2022: Why and How to Sell on Douyin, China’s #1 Video App

What Is Douyin? It Is Not TikTok

International audiences are often told that Douyin is TikTok, which they will no doubt be familiar with, given that it’s the most successful short video app in history. While TikTok was born out of Douyin, and while it shares many common features, the two should be thought of as distinct. First off, Douyin can only be downloaded and installed by users in Mainland China. Vice versa, TikTok is only accessible outside of Mainland China. Second, Douyin’s livestreaming features are more developed than TikTok’s – it is possible to do group livestreams, screen recording and place voice comments. Third, significantly for businesses looking to sell on Douyin, it’s worth noting the difference in the demographics of users. While TikTok is dominated by Gen-Z, Douyin is dominated by both millennials and Gen-Z, with 35% of the 670 million users under 35.

Content and expectations are different on TikTok and Douyin. On TikTok, brands tend to highlight user generated content by reposting it. On Douyin, brands are expected to, and do, make original content, such as guides, educational videos, product releases and tips and tricks. Finally, while the most popular TikTok accounts have often made names for themselves in the app itself, the most popular Douyin accounts usually have a large following before launching an account on Douyin. This has implications for how brands interact with KOLs (key opinion leaders, aka influencers).

 

Douyin VS TikTok

Source: adchina.io

 

Adding products to videos Douyin

“Adding products to videos” – Source: walkthechat.com

 

Douyin Joins the E-Commerce Game

As with other social media apps like WeChat, Xiaohongshu and Weibo, Douyin recently decided to cash in on its enormous reach and expand its e-commerce component. It comes in the form of ‘flagship’ stores. Launched in March 2021, the stores look much like those on other apps, with banners, tiles, in-store search bars, categories and enriched features such as vouchers and animated elements.

A whole host of brands have joined since the launch, and Douyin is now slated to become a dominant player in China’s e-commerce market. This year it reported a 320% growth in gross merchandise value, selling more than 10 billion products. Estimates put the annual GMV at around RMB 800 billion, which is expected to rise to RMB 1 trillion over the next year. This eclipses TikTok’s annual GMV of RMB 6 billion. Put in simple terms: this is big business.

 

Douyin Gross Merchandise Value

“Douyin Gross Merchandise Value” – Source: Statista.com

 

Why Choose Douyin Over Other E-Commerce Platforms

The best strategy for e-commerce in China is to diversify across various platforms, however, with so many to choose from, brands do need to be a little selective as to where to invest their money and time. There are a few things that set Douyin apart, that may make it a better fit than its rivals.

  • Active users. Of its 670+ million users, 600 million of them use the app at least once per month. This is only just shy of e-commerce top dog Taobao, which reports 670 million monthly active users.
  • High user engagement. The average time spent on the app per active user per day is around an hour, which is considerably higher than most other apps.
  • The Douyin algorithm is the gold standard of suggesting content that will appeal to users on a person-by-person basis; so much so that it is frequently described as addictive.
  • Social element. While e-commerce giants Taobao and Tmall are now integrating more social features, for Douyin, the social nature of the app is at its core. Sharing, communication, and social proofing underlay the success of the app.
  • The app is highly intuitive, with the user experience featuring very few steps in order to arrive at a desired location. A user can open the app, see a video, view a related product, purchase and pay in just 4 or 5 taps.
  • The short video format endows brands an ability to showcase their creativity. It is an extra tool with which to stand out from the crowd.

 

How to Set Up a Brand Account

Douyin offers four types of account certification: individual, musician, company and public organisation. Before setting up a store, it is necessary to have a brand account, for which company certification needs to be applied for. This can be done on the PC, via douyin.com, or through the app itself. It requires that you submit a form with company information for validation, and pay a 600RMB service fee.

 

Create brand account on Douyin on PC

 

Create brand account on Douyin on mobile

 

After your brand account is activated, you will gain access to a few extra functions, including a smart editing tool for products, coupons and campaigns, the ability to list official website and telephone number, the ability to do a company livestream, as well as CRM tools like private chat, fan tagging and creating custom portraits for fans.

 

How to Set Up a Store

Setting up a store requires a few additional steps, which are completed on https://fxg.jinritemai.com. Here you will be required to select what sort of entity your company is, and what category of products it intends to sell. Commission rates vary according to industry, for instance for fashion products it’s 5%, but for beauty products it’s 4%.

You will also be required to submit the usual information that’s required of e-commerce accounts in China: business license, legal representative identity information, bank information, and a logo. For non-mainland business entities, a corporate bank card number may be submitted instead of ID. Once completed, for domestic entities the review will be completed in 1-3 working days, and for cross-border entities, 1-5 working days. If the application is approved, users must then pay a deposit, which ranges from RMB100,000 up to RMB400,000 depending on size and scope of operations. After that, the store is ready to go!

 

Luxury brand stores on Douyin

“Luxury brand stores on Douyin” – Source: chinamktginsights.com

 

Once set up, the store operates in much the same way as any other e-commerce platform. When uploading products, brands simply need to select categories, input shipping costs and times, and upload pictures and product info.

 

Peacebird Douyin Store

“Peacebird Douyin Store” – Source: chinamktginsights.com

 

The Chinese Social Commerce ecosystem is a fast-paced one. Brands need to constantly be on-trend in terms of content angles and design, as Douyin is a social platform first and an eCommerce one after. At Sekkei Studio, and thanks to 13 years of experience in the Chinese Search, Social and Ecommerce channels, we help brand activate and prosper their Douyin accounts and estores. Contact us to learn more about how we can help take your Brand’s Social commerce operations to the next level.

 

Hamza Ouarit

Marketing Consultant and General Manager of Sekkei Studio, a 13 years old digital marketing agency in Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong. Hamza has been helping brands, corporations, and governments with their China Digital Marketing strategies and contributes actively to seminars and conferences.

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