China’s Instagram-like lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu has merged its e-commerce and livestreaming operations, establishing a new trading division in parallel with its community division, according to a report by local media outlet LatePost.

Why it matters: With the platform having met its milestone of 100 million daily active users earlier this year, Xiaohongshu has moved to solidify its previously vague strategy in e-commerce, aiming to diversify a revenue stream that has to date relied mainly on advertising.

Details: Xiaohongshu’s chief operating officer, widely known by the nickname Ke Nan, will assume leadership of the new department.

  • While gross merchandise volume (GMV) or order volume are key metrics that help mainstream e-commerce platforms monitor business tendencies, LatePost revealed that Xiaohongshu prioritizes tracking daily purchasing user numbers.
  • Promoting purchases through high-quality posts and livestreamed content seems to be “a more fitting growth model for Xiaohongshu’s e-commerce effort,” LatePost cited an internal employee as saying. The reference to “high-quality content” is based on the soft-sell techniques employed by actresses Dong Jie and Teresa Cheung, which bolstered the platform’s presence in the livestreamed shopping arena this year.
  • A senior member of staff at a multi-channel network (MCN) agency, which manages livestreamers, told LatePost that Xiaohongshu places less emphasis on fan numbers when seeking hosts, but instead appreciates those with aesthetic sensibilities or professional capabilities in certain fields.
  • The actress Dong Jie for example, engages with livestream viewers relatively gently, sharing her feelings and experiences when using or wearing showcased products in a calm manner compared to some other personalities in the livestreamed e-commerce sphere. Items for sale undergo pre-selection by her team to ensure alignment with Dong’s personal style. Most are designer garments valued at several thousand yuan. 

Context: While safeguarding its community content ecosystem remains a priority, Xiaohongshu has kept a quiet eye on the evolving e-commerce arena in recent years. Reports in March noted that the platform had elevated livestreaming operations to a standalone division, a move that centralized the oversight of livestreamed content and e-commerce activities.

  • The number of brand merchants selling on Xiaohongshu more than doubled from March to May this year compared to a year earlier, according to tech media outlet 36Kr.

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]