China’s tech giant Douyin has come a long way since its inception, from its humble beginnings as a short video platform to what now looks like up-and-coming shopping software. This new and improved look, however, bears a close resemblance to Pinduoduo, a mobile marketplace already established in the Chinese market.
Since March this year, Douyin began adding new features to its app from memberships to subscriptions in order to keep up with the latest news posted by online shops. Second-hand shopping was also recently integrated into the platform, with digital products and watches reigning supreme.
Users have already spotted certain changes on the platform. For instance, the “Friends” icon in the navigation bar at the bottom of the Douyin homepage, has been replaced with a subtle “Shop” icon. This, along with buzzwords boasting ultra-low prices, followed by a UI design that bears an uncanny resemblance to Pinduoduo, has led users to suspect that Douyin has jumped on the e-commerce bandwagon.
Pinduoduo’s strong suit has always been its M2C (manufacturer-to-consumer) model. By eliminating the middleman, they connect the user directly to the manufacturer, thereby guaranteeing their customers the lowest prices. While it is unclear if Douyin will be able to have the same swift success as Pinduoduo, integrating the shop into their app will certainly boost sales, as previously, Douyin tried with little success to divert its traffic to a separate app.
While this new change is promising for retailers looking to sell their products on the new platform, many challenges remain such as dealing with an already saturated market, an insufficient supply chain, and finding a balance between its short video content and its e-commerce business. How they tackle these issues will determine whether Douyin will manage to outperform its e-commerce competitors.