With 1.5 billion monthly active users, ByteDance pivots toward e-commerce

An e-commerce app is still absent in the app factory which has created TikTok and Jinri Toutiao.

Photo:Stock.tuchong.com

China-based startup ByteDance started an e-commerce project to develop a new standalone app, mini-programs, and web portals in February, using NetEase’s Yanxuan e-commerce platform as a benchmark, reported 36Kr, citing people familiar to the matter.

The project has not entered the testing period and does not have a name, only a codename formed with letters and numbers, according to 36Kr’s sources.

In response, ByteDance confirmed towards 36Kr that the company does have an e-commerce plan, but it’s not referencing NetEase’s Yanxuan and it’s not a new, standalone app.

Instead, ByteDance told 36Kr, the project is based on the existing e-commerce platform of smartphone maker Smartisan, that sells accessories and smartphone derivatives. The phone maker was acquired by ByteDance after it ran out of cash.

When contacted by KrASIA on Tuesday, a spokeswoman from ByteDance simply said the firm does not “have plans to develop a new e-commerce app.”

ByteDance has already made steps to revive the Smartisan e-commerce platform. The website, which was once not even accessible anymore, is now selling  products as diverse as travel suitcases and DNA testing kits, along with smartphones, phone rechargers, and air purifiers. Smartisan also has a mobile app called Changhuxi, which sells the same products as its e-commerce website.

ByteDance now has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users on all of its apps including short video apps such as Douyin and TikTok.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.