The lines between e-commerce and content platforms in China are starting to blur and Taobao, the country’s pre-eminent e-commerce platform, sees short videos playing an essential role in driving traffic and strengthening user stickiness; it’s a development that has implications for next month’s Singles Day.

“As the main gateway for consumers to enter branded Tmall stores and access Luxury Pavilion, changes to the Taobao ecosystem will reverberate through the industry,” says Alexander Wei, digital content manager at the Digital Luxury Group.

Among the changes understood to be coming are the relocation of banner ads previously found at the top of the page (Zuan Zhan or 钻展), and the reshuffling of entry points in the recommendation feed. However, the most significant change, he explains, is the weighting of content-related elements – mainly short videos and livestreaming – on the homepage.

“With the removal of categories from the home page, the recommendation feed (which consists of both product listings and videos) now takes centre stage. Feeds are built up with content, and this change further iterates Taobao’s focus on its content offering,” Wei elaborates. “Short videos will also reportedly gradually replace the text-image model.”

The new, or more accurately, renewed focus on short video (back in 2016 Taobao President Jiang Fan stated that “in the future, 90% of content on Taobao will be videos, including livestreams”) means that merchants are expected to have a certain number of short videos uploaded ahead of Singles Day in order to get a recommendation slot on the Taobao front page.

The move is in part a reaction to the growth of platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou – China’s two short-video giants – which have amassed nearly 800 million cumulative daily active users and to Douyin’s decision that livestreams on the platform will cease to support third-party e-commerce links (including links to Taobao/Tmall) from 9 October.

However, the platforms are not in direct competition when it comes to the consumer journey, Wei notes, and brands will have to adapt video content to each.

For a transaction-driven platform like Taobao, he suggests, content within videos has to be more focused on actual product uses, reviews and recommendations that will drive direct conversions.

However, a platform like Douyin, which is more suitable for awareness generation and brand-building, calls for inspirational and engaging short-video content.

For more details, read Alexander Wei’s article on WARC: Taobao is doubling down on short videos ahead of Singles Day. What does this mean for the industry?

Sourced from WARC