Chinese retailer Suning.com partners with short video platform Douyin on social e-commerce

Jane Zhang
·4-min read

Suning.com is the latest online Chinese retailer to partner with a live streaming platform to promote products amid changing consumer behaviour amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nanjing-based company, which has seen its online sales boom during Covid-19, will partner with ByteDance’s popular short video platform Douyin in providing live streamed branding and supply chain services.

Under the initiative, consumers can purchase Suning.com products directly from Douyin’s e-commerce live-streaming platform without being re-redirected, and Suning.com will provide delivery and after-sales service, the retailer said in a statement on Thursday.

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The company’s push for social e-commerce and further digitalisation of its offline stores saw Suning.com’s online sales rise 20.19 per cent year on year in the first half of 2020 despite a net loss of 161 million yuan (US$23 million) due to the impact of Covid-19.

Online sales accounted for about 70 per cent of total sales during the same period, according to the company’s financial report published on Thursday.

Homes, trucks and even rocket launches are sold via live streaming in China

“Douyin’s e-commerce platform is a platform that can help users find good products at good prices,” said Fan Chunyan, vice-president of Suning.com. “Through in-depth cooperation [with Douyin], Suning can further reach young consumers and get insights about their needs so [we can] provide more high-quality services.”

The partnership comes ahead of the company’s 30th-anniversary – to be celebrated by the 818 shopping festival in mid-August – when the new service will be officially launched. Suning.com said it will explore a new model with a super buyers’ live-streaming room with famous actors, singers and influencers.

Tapping into live streaming has become a hot trend in China this year as more merchants and consumers moved sales and shopping online amid the lockdowns and quarantine measures imposed nationwide to contain the spread of the virus.

Data shows that the live streaming format is becoming a key sales channel. In the first half of this year, there were over 10 million e-commerce related live streaming sessions in China, attracting more than 50 billion views as live streaming’s application scenarios are becoming richer and more diversified, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

“Live streaming has become the new engine for the development of e-commerce,” Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said in an online press conference on Thursday.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba saw gross merchandise volume generated from live streaming soar 100 per cent year on year in the first quarter. JD.com, the country’s second-largest e-commerce platform, joined the Tencent-backed short video platform Kuaishou to boost its presence in live streaming in May before the country’s midyear shopping festival.

With the mix of e-commerce and entertainment helping to spur its adoption, the number of live streaming video users in China is projected to reach 526 million this year, up from 504 million in 2019, according to iiMedia Research.

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