Will TikTok’s owner ByteDance go head-to-head with Amazon?

ByteDance plans to release an independent export e-commerce platform in October, looking to tap into China’s massive cross-border e-commerce market – the overall export value between January to July this year reached 603.6 billion RMB ($93.31 billion). 

Before this move, the tech giant had already seen a huge success in its domestic commence business. Last year, ByteDance’s GMV on Douyin e-commerce rose to 500 billion RMB ($77.3 billion), even though its e-commerce department was just created last June.

An industry insider said that ByteDance is likely to expand its export business to Southeast Asia or the United States. Southeast Asia has a growing e-commerce market with developed logistics infrastructure, thanks to Alibaba-owned Lazada and Shopee-backed Sea, two major online shopping platforms in the region. Moreover, ByteDance has racked up its Southeast Asian user base with a news aggregation app BaBe purchased in 2018, and a social music streaming app Resso launched in 2020. 

On the other hand, the US has a more mature market with fierce competition. However, ByteDance has strong support from its short-video platform TikTok with some 80 million monthly active users in the country – 80% of them are aged between 16 to 34, who embrace online shopping. In addition, a large number of Chinese brands are now looking for new marketplaces, after around 600 of them having been banned by Amazon. If ByteDance enters the US e-commerce market, it will be going head-to-head with the global giant – 63% of the merchants on Amazon’s US website are Chinese.

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