TikTok Owner Bytedance Puts Social E-Commerce On A Pedestal

What Happened 

Bytedance, the owner of the short video platform Douyin and its overseas version TikTok, has formed an e-commerce business unit to oversee a group-wide e-commerce businesses, the Chinese tech media LatePost reported

The move, in essence, is a facelift to the tech giant’s existing e-commerce department within Douyin. The new unit, which directly reports to its China CEO Zhang Nan and Chairman Zhang Lidong, would supervise e-commerce operations on Douyin, the AI-driven news app Toutiao, the short-video platform Xigua video, and other products. 

Bytedance has previously dabbled in social e-commerce. In March 2018, Douyin launched an e-commerce feature in a partnership with Alibaba, while TikTok did so overseas in 2019, allowing its 1.5 billion monthly active users to shop while binging 15-second videos. Bloomberg reported this May that the fast-growing company generated over $17 billion in revenue last year, doubling its 2018 results. 

Jing Take

Bytedance holds the key to luxury brands’ aspiring customers — heavy social media users and news consumers born after the 90s or 00s’ in China and rest of the world — that every brand drools over. Opening an e-commerce business unit is a strategic move after two years of trial and error and suggests that the company sees e-commerce as an important revenue stream for its future. 

Brands should keep a close eye on what it’s up to next, given that many of them already have a Douyin/TikTok presence. By the time of publishing, Bytedance’s group job site has over 300 openings with the word “e-commerce” in China, Jing Daily observed. About a dozen of these positions are for livestreaming e-commerce, shedding light on the company’s ambition in growing this new sales driver for brands. 

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.