In June, ByteDance, the company behind short-video apps Douyin and TikTok, renewed its e-commerce ambitions by establishing a new e-commerce business unit, betting on China’s burgeoning livestreaming sector. The unit will serve as a first-level business department operating in parallel with the firm’s news aggregator Toutiao as well as Douyin.
This is not the first time for ByteDance to attempt entry into the e-commerce sector. Back in 2014, the Beijing-based firm launched an e-commerce feature within Toutiao, although the pursuit ended in failure.
Now, with the rise of e-commerce livestreaming, ByteDance sees a renewed opportunity, as buying products while viewing livestreams has become a popular way for Chinese netizens to shop, while Douyin has become a favorite platform for e-commerce livestreaming sessions.
In April 2019, Douyin launched a feature for account owners to set up online stores within the app. To attract more users, Douyin also invited Luo Yonghao, the founder of smartphone brand Smartisan, who sold USD 15.5 million goods and gained 200 million new followers on the platform following his first e-commerce livestream.
ByteDance’s e-commerce unit marks larger ambitions in one of the most competitive arenas in China’s tech industry, with rivals including established e-commerce companies such as Alibaba, JD.com, and Pinduoduo.
Can ByteDance succeed? Learn more in the first episode of Beyond TikTok, a series that looks at ByteDance’s ambitions to diversify its business.
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