ByteDance, the TikTok owner, sees e-commerce revenue up 76% in China

January 11, 2023 0:25 am

ByteDance, the Beijing-headquartered company that owns TikTok, has seen strong growth in its e-commerce business in the past year, particularly in the Chinese and Southeast Asian markets.

Last year, Chinese consumers spent 1.41 trillion yuan ($208 billion) on Douyin, TikTok's sister app for mainland China, an increase of 76% from 2021, The Information reported, citing sources with knowledge of the internal data. 

By comparison, the gross merchandise volume of Douyin's e-commerce saw a boost of 320% in 2021 over the previous year.

Meanwhile, spending by TikTok shoppers in Southeast Asia has more than quadrupled, with the GMV reaching $4.4 billion, the sources said.

According to the sources, TikTok has been discussing plans to expand its e-commerce efforts this year to more countries such as the US, Brazil, Spain, and Australia.

In November, TikTok began testing its e-commerce feature, TikTok Shop, in the US, allowing users to make a purchase within the short video app.

Previously, TikTok launched the shopping service in the UK but it did not go well. Citing employees familiar with the business, the Financial Times reported that a toxic work culture, low consumer awareness, and lukewarm adoption have kept things from going exactly as planned in the UK.

While the e-commerce numbers look staggering, the company as a whole did not grow as quickly as had been anticipated. In a recent town hall meeting, Liang Rubo, CEO of ByteDance, said, "despite an increase in total daily active users over the past year, the company has still missed the target it set for itself in early 2022, and revenue growth has slowed." 

In 2022, the company has conducted multiple rounds of layoffs in non-core businesses. The most recent job cuts came in December, when hundreds of employees across multiple divisions, including Douyin, its gaming business, and its real estate business, were laid off as part of the company's efforts to streamline its operations.

While scaling back its domestic operations, the social media giant has been aggressively hiring in the US over the past 12 months to support its fast-growing TikTok business.

The viral short video app plans to nearly double its workforce in Mountain View, California, to about 2,000. The plan is part of TikTok's efforts to win more trust from US lawmakers and regulators.