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How short videos make a big difference in China’s e-commerce 

by uma


By: Elena Gatti, MD of Azoya Europe – https://www.azoyagroup.com

Digital marketing has accelerated in most industries in the recent years, especially due to the pandemic, lockdowns and the overall stay at home economy. On that note, when it comes to e-commerce, one trend is clearly visible in China. Short video formats are the new hype. And it’s definitely not a small thing, as they have a big influence on raising a brand’s profile and engaging customers with creative content. 

Even though the rise of short videos and their platforms has attracted a lot of attention from media, brands, and consumers for the past three years, there is still space for brands to start campaigns on emerging platforms such as Douyin, Xiaohongshu and Kuaishou, as some already do with more mature social media like WeChat and Weibo. 

For a brand that can only mean one thing. If you want to connect with potential consumers efficiently and build relationships with them, you should incorporate short video in your strategy.

Short video format – new playground for brands in China

The switch towards video has been gradual and steady. The JD app is one of the largest e-commerce marketplaces in China, boasting over 570 million daily active users in the FY 2021 annual report. Just in March, JD.com announced a major update, with short videos gradually replacing text and images as the main formats of product information in the app. Over 70% of the updated home page content will be more focused on short videos and merchants are advised to increase the proportion of short video uploading for its products and feed to get more exposure. In terms of opportunities, Pinduoduo and Taobao have also increased the exposure of short videos content on their homepages since 2021, with Taobao having it in its focus throughout 2022. 

Short videos can be used for various types of promotional materials, such as product reviews, product showcases, promoting brand culture, and more. So it doesn’t come as a surprise to see how popular short video apps actually are. According to KrASIA, as of 2020 the biggest number of monthly active users on Chinese short-video apps are on Douyin (550 million), Kuaishou (490 million) and Xigua Video (270 million).


How and where to look for short video format

If we use the example of Taobao, currently short videos are mainly found in two major positions. One is the first-level entrance of Taobao home page “Guang Guang”, the section upgraded from “Weitao”, which aggregates content such as buyers’ shows and sellers’ shows. According to Tmall public data, “Guang Guang” section with a monthly activity of over 250 million users and a daily activity of 50 million users in 2021, is in the top three of content platforms in China, ranking after Little Red Book and Douyin. Guang Guang’s recommendation mechanism uses big data to recommend content that users are interested in, based on their daily searches, and they can access the product link and purchase directly. According to public data, as of November 2021,one third of the orders on Taobao came from “Guang Guang” community seeding. The data also shows that the conversion rate of the short video section is as high as 70% or more.

The second is Taobao’s “you may also like” recommendation, which is mainly laid out in the “shopping cart”, “to be shipped” and “to be received”. According to Azoya’s internal research, for every 20 products appeared in the recommendation section, there will be around three or four  short videos that lead to a product detail page.  

What short video content brings to brands

The focus on actual products and consumer needs will drive direct conversions, and short video has shown to be a worthy trend follow to get to these results. In that sense, it has a lot of benefits for brands. 

With short video a brand can upgrade the main product picture and video can improve part of the conversion into stores. Simply because short video is capable of providing much more information in a shorter time span, while vividly introducing the characteristics and functions of the product to customers it creates a deeper impressions. Compared to pictures, video can prolong user’s stay time in the product description page and promote product conversion.

Short video also has the official traffic support of e-commerce platforms, which can improve store exposure. For example, after merchants upload short videos to JD.com, official reviewers will label some short videos with “preferred” and “selected” according to certain rules, and the exposure rate of selected short videos will increase accordingly.

Brands need to adjust their content marketing strategies and master short video production capabilities to gain more exposure in e-commerce platforms. Because, put simply and briefly, short videos have a significant role in driving traffic and increasing conversion rates. This trend isn’t going away fast and will have a big effect longterm.


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