TikTok recently announced an expanded partnership with Shopify and a pilot test of TikTok Shopping.
Among other things, 2020 will go down as the year that Chinese brands finally made it on the world stage. Surprisingly, it was neither an Alibaba e-commerce platform nor a Tencent-owned social app that gained traction overseas, but two younger upstarts that managed to win the respective attention and wallets of global Gen Z: TikTok and the ultrafast-fashion brand Shein.
TikTok Takes Over the World
As short-video platform TikTok dangles the promise of e-commerce — announcing an expanded partnership with Shopify and a pilot test of TikTok Shopping in August 2021 — its Chinese sibling Douyin is already offering it. Over the course of 2020, the short-video platform TikTok became one of the world’s most popular apps, peaking with 112 million global downloads in May 2020. Its parent, Beijing-based tech giant Bytedance, operates a counterpart in mainland China called Douyin, which hints at the future of global e-commerce fueled by content.
A relative latecomer to e-commerce in China, Bytedance, through Douyin, is taking on established players such as Alibaba and JD.com. In late 2020, it barred links to third-party e-commerce platforms from livestreams hosted on Douyin, directing users to Douyin online stores instead. In March 2021, Douyin introduced flagship stores for brands with official accounts on the platform and began building centers for logistics and product quality inspection around China, as well as cross-border warehousing for goods imported from Southeast Asia and the United Kingdom. To top it all, the platform also introduced its own digital payment system, Douyin Pay, in early 2021.
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