Douyin Denies Suspension of E-Commerce App Douyin Box

According to a report by 36Kr on September 7, an independent e-commerce app called “Douyin Box,” owned by ByteDance, will soon suspend operations, although Douyin has denied the news.

People familiar with the matter told 36Kr that ByteDance had suspended input into Douyin Box and that informal internal communication had been made so that employees could return to Douyin’s e-commerce division and other teams through internal transfers. Another source close to Douyin said that internal employees of Douyin Box had started the reorientation process.

Over the last two years, Douyin’s e-commerce business has been on a tear. According to official data from Douyin, its e-commerce GMV over the past year was already 2.2 times higher than that of the previous period, by the end of April this year. Moreover, Douyin box is an independent endeavor by Douyin’s e-commerce business.

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High expectations were attached to the launch of Douyin Box in December 2021. Firstly, commercialization was bound to erode the content ecosystem, with the rapid expansion of Douyin’s e-commerce business, and Douyin Box was an attempt to resolve this contradiction. Secondly, as an independent e-commerce app, it was also expected to capture new traffic from outside.

However, Douyin Box didn’t make a splash. “In the end, it turned out that the influencers and content were not retained. People would not remember that influencers were from Douyin Box, and would only remember that the influencers were from Douyin,” an insider said.

When Douyin Box was officially launched, it was initially positioned as a “trendy fashion e-commerce platform,” attracting many influencers to join, with a large number of subsidies. In terms of products, it only connected to Douyin with the payment module, while merchants and the number of followers were separated from Douyin.

Merchants hoped traffic could be driven from Douyin, which has 600 million active users, to Douyin Box. But statistics from Sensor Tower showed that the DAUs of Douyin Box dropped to about 50,000 and that its MAUs were around 350,000. Streamers were having a hard time getting traffic on the platform quickly, and therefore they had no incentive to make new content.

Xu Luran, the manager of Douyin Box, used to be a product manager of ByteDance’s social app “Duoshan.” Afterward, she joined Volcano Engine, then the Douyin e-commerce team. A source briefed on the matter said that she might be in charge of other sections of ByteDance’s e-commerce business in the future.