Douyin has added portals that lead to online shops of its popular video posters. People browsing Douyin can now tap through to the personal store of the accounts they follow and purchase products. Previously, users wanting to buy from a Douyin publisher would see the products tagged and be redirected straight through to Taobao.

Why is such a tiny change worth reporting on? User experience and scale. Any additional step in the customer journey will see users abandon their purchase. Scale this up to Douyin’s 66 million active daily users–the short video app recently became the most downloaded non-game app in the world–and reducing customer drop off has a massive impact.

The development suggests not that Douyin or Bytedance apps in general are becoming online retail platforms in their own right, but that they are tightening their grip on sending traffic to existing retailers such as JD and Alibaba’s Taobao and TMall.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...