Short Video Storms China E-commerce – How Brands Should React
by Maggie Yu & Davy Huang
In March 2022, Chinese e-commerce company JD.com announced a major update, with short videos gradually replacing text and images as the main formats for product information in the JD.com app. Over 70% of the updated homepage content will be more focused on short videos.
Shortly after the JD.com app update, the platform released new short video production specifications and algorithm rule changes to merchants. Merchants are advised to increase the proportion of short-video uploading for their products and feed to get more exposure opportunities in the app. The JD.com app is one of the largest e-commerce marketplaces in China, boasting over 570 million daily active users in the company’s FY 2021 annual report.
In addition to JD.com, online platforms Taobao and Pinduoduo have also increased the exposure of short-video content on their homepages since 2021. Short video is gradually becoming a trend, gaining more and more weightage on major e-commerce platforms in terms of exposure opportunities.
E-commerce platforms prioritize the display of short videos
Since 2020, Taobao has slowly shifted its graphic-based content to short videos. Recently, there is also news that content-based strategy will be the focus of Taobao's development in 2022, of which short video is an important part of the strategy.
Currently on the Taobao app, short videos are mainly found in two major positions. One is the first-level entrance of the Taobao app homepage, "Guang Guang," launched at the end of 2020.
The "Guang Guang" section is an upgrade from "Weitao", which aggregates content, such as buyers' shows and sellers' shows. Video content is usually presented in the formats of both livestreaming clips and short videos. According to Tmall public data, the "Guang Guang" section had monthly activity of over 250 million users and daily activity of 50 million users in 2021, placing it in the top three content platforms in China, ranked after fashion and luxury platform Little Red Book and Douyin, China’s original TikTok.
Guang Guang's recommendation mechanism uses big data to recommend content that users are interested in, based on their daily searches and purchases. For example, if users searched for a lipstick recently, they will find a lot of lipstick-related content, including graphics and short videos. Users can click on the content recommended by Guang Guang to directly display the product link, and click twice to jump to the product page and place a purchase order.
The second is Taobao's "You may also like" recommendation. " You may also like " is mainly laid out in the "shopping cart", "to be shipped" and "to be received" sections. According to Azoya’s internal research, for every 20 products that appear in the recommendation section, there will be 3-4 short videos that lead to a product detail page.
After the update of the content section, a number of merchants have very clearly felt the tremendous growth of store traffic and orders. According to public data, as of November 2021, 1/3 of the orders on Taobao (directly & indirectly) came from “Guang Guang” community seeding.
In addition, Pinduoduo has also started to increase its efforts in the short-video track. Pinduoduo has upgraded its short-video section to the first-level entrance at the bottom of its app entrance homepage - Duo Duo Video. But the video content is unrelated to e-commerce; instead, it is full of entertainment content. Market speculation is that Pinduoduo wants to increase the length of time users use its app through the video section. After all, the longer users stay, the more likely they are to convert into purchasing customers.
What can short-video content bring to brands?
• Upgrade the main product picture to short video, which can improve part of the conversion into stores. Compared with the traditional method of introducing products with static images, short video can provide much more information in a shorter time span. Vividly introducing a product’s characteristics and functions to customers also creates a deeper impression. Compared with pictures, video can prolong the length of time users stay on the product description page and promote product conversion.
The general manager of Taobao's content ecosystem division has mentioned that Taobao will continue to enrich media-based content and short videos, as one of the highlights, are launched with the greatest intensity. At present, Taobao’s short-video content is getting more popular and has a positive impact on sales. Public data showing that the conversion rate of the short-video section is as high as 70% or more.
Watch brand CASIO has been laying out Taobao short videos since 2020, and currently publishes more than 20 short videos daily. "Compared with the traditional graphic form, short videos spread information more efficiently. Our previous best performance of a short video can bring more than 80,000 RMB sales in a single month. We do not focus on the sales conversion from short videos, but the benefits of attracting traffic and return purchases," according to CASIO’s marketing leader.
During the 2021 March 1st to March 8th Queen's Day campaign, the number of CASIO official flagship store’s daily short-video guide visitors exceeded overall visitors in February. Within 8 days, short-video guide visitors accounted for 7.54% of store visitors, up 96.9% from the previous month.
• Short video has the official traffic support of e-commerce platforms, which can improve store exposure. At present, traditional e-commerce platforms have attached great importance to short-video content, and JD.com has a traffic preference for high-quality short video. 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.
Taobao also encouraged merchants to increase the output of high-quality short videos during Singles' Day last year, and some types of merchants need to release a certain number of short videos to get exposure during the Singles' Day campaign. If no short video is released, the brand's products may not be seen in "You may also like" and other sections.
How do international brands do short-video marketing on e-commerce platforms?
Australia Youthit Bilberry Complex -- Given the popularity of electronic products, attention to eye health has become an issue of importance to consumers. Youthit uses the product feature of eye protection to match the lifestyles of its target consumers, such as prolonged use of cell phones and game consoles and working on computers for a long time, causing eye interference, fatigue, etc. Youthit presents this content through short videos that engage consumers and generate interest in purchasing.
Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation -- The content of short video in product description page of Bobbi Brown tests foundations at high temperatures and compares the results with those of other brands. The final test results showed that Bobbi Brown foundations last longer and do not dry out in hot environments. Bobbi Brown used the results of the experiment to draw out the selling points of the product in a more creative way to attract consumers to buy, and also played a role in educating consumers.
Armani Beauty Lip Maestro Liquid Lipstick -- Through the lipstick trial video of the brand's celebrity spokesperson, it gives consumers a more intuitive viewing experience. On the other hand, it also uses the fan economy effect to attract potential consumers to buy.
Guerlain Parure Gold Radiance Foundation -- When consumers search for foundation on Taobao, Guerlain will appear in the Masonry Layouts position on the foundation product page. Instead of the traditional product graphic introduction, Guerlain used a certain livestreaming clip of Austin Li and edited it into the form of short video to attract consumers' attention. When consumers click on the short video, they can jump to Guerlain's official flagship Tmall store. This kind of short video, using livestreaming material for secondary editing, also has a good consumer acquisition effect. In the field of e-commerce, short video has an important role of traffic entrance and content seeding.
• Compared with graphic information, short videos are more vivid, interesting, and conducive to social sharing. In addition, short-video product introduction plays an important role in driving traffic and increasing conversion rates.
• Brands need to adjust their content marketing strategies and master short-video production capabilities to gain more exposure in e-commerce platforms.
• For a transaction-driven platforms like Taobao and JD.com, content within short videos has to focus more on actual product uses and consumer needs to drive direct conversions.
 Ebrun: In the JD update, will merchants get new short video traffic? 2022; URL
 Wangyi: E-commerce platforms have invested in the short video track, 2022; URL
 Sohu: Taobao short video section cannot miss the key information, 2018; URL
 Tencent: Taobao set up a content-based group to increase the code of short video, 2022; URL