Bytedance is revamping Smartisan’s online store after purchasing the embattled smartphone maker’s education hardware patents and e-commerce operations earlier this year.

Why it matters: Spurred by the increasing use of content in e-commerce, Bytedance, the parent of content creation hubs Douyin and Toutiao, is boosting its e-commerce capabilities in an attempt to diversify revenue sources.

  • Bytedance-backed Toutiao rolled out a factory-to-store e-commerce platform Zhidian last year, while a separate e-commerce project dubbed Xincao underway.
  • Bytedance’s e-commerce program will likely remain in the experimental phase for the next few years.
  • The company’s approach to e-commerce will put it in competition with incumbents like Alibaba and Pinduoduo, which are also trying to boost their growth through content.

“We don’t have plans to develop a new e-commerce app. The e-commerce product in question is the existing Smartisan official website, which has always been a platform selling Smartisan phones and accessories.”

– Bytedance spokesperson

Details: Chinese media Tech Xingqiu reported that Bytedance is working on a new incubation project that takes the model of NetEase’s private-label e-commerce platform NetEase Yanxuan.

  • Smartisan’s online store now includes new product categories such as t-shirts, sneakers, backpacks, and even genetic testing kits.
  • The site ran out of most products after Smartisan’s cash crunch last year.

Is NetEase’s Yanxuan the new trendsetter for China’s e-commerce industry?

Context: Bytedance is taking over some of Smartisan’s most valuable assets as the niche smartphone maker faces a series of crises.

  • Bytedance acquired some of Smartisan’s tech-related patents to develop hardware for the education sector.
  • Some employees of Smartisan were transferred to Bytedance as part of what the latter company called a “normal flow of talent.”
  • Bytedance said earlier this year it was developing a smartphone through a partnership with Smartisan.

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at More by Emma Lee

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