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

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 lixin@technode.com.

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