The Changing Landscape of E-Commerce Platforms

The world of e-commerce is constantly evolving, with new platforms and technologies emerging to meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers. In recent years, we have witnessed a significant shift in user behavior, with the rise of content-based platforms like Douyin (also known as TikTok) and Kuaishou. These platforms have transformed the way people engage with online shopping, placing a greater emphasis on the consumer-influencer relationship. In this article, we will explore how these platforms are disrupting the traditional e-commerce model, the impact they are having on incumbent players like Alibaba and, and the importance of prioritizing the consumer-influencer relationship in the e-commerce industry.

The Rise of Douyin and Kuaishou

In September 2021, a mother started sharing daily conversations with her daughters on Douyin, the Chinese sister app of TikTok. These videos, featuring funny arguments and conflicts in the context of conversations between a mother and a princess in an ancient Chinese harem, quickly gained popularity among parents and children alike. As a result, the family amassed a large following of 2.5 million on Douyin.

What set these videos apart was the way they seamlessly integrated e-commerce into the content. The family began selling tea during live streams, with a “buy” button conveniently located at the bottom of the screen. Despite the tea having no direct connection to the video content, their fans still eagerly purchased it. This phenomenon of impulse buying has propelled Douyin’s gross merchandise value (GMV) to an impressive 1.2 trillion RMB by 2022, with an annual growth rate of 75%. Kuaishou, a similar platform, has also experienced significant growth, reaching a GMV of 0.7 trillion RMB in the same year.

The Concerns of Incumbent Platforms

The rapid success of Douyin and Kuaishou has raised concerns among established e-commerce platforms like Alibaba and Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba, has warned that without innovative measures, Alibaba’s core e-commerce group may face severe competition and suffer a fate similar to Nokia on the eve of its mobile phone collapse. In response to these challenges, Alibaba has undergone a radical restructuring, dividing itself into six independent business units, each with its own CEOs and boards of directors. has also taken measures to address the shifting landscape by replacing its top team and reshaping its strategy to focus on price, quality, and service.

The Content-Based Model of Short-Video Platforms

The success of platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou lies in their content-based approach to e-commerce. Unlike traditional e-commerce platforms, where users log on with a specific shopping need in mind, short-video platforms offer users a continuous stream of engaging and entertaining content. These platforms integrate product recommendations seamlessly into the videos, allowing users to make purchases based on emotional attachment and resonance with the content they are viewing.

When users interact with the content on these platforms, they develop a sense of friendship or even love towards the influencers, creating a strong motivation to buy the products they promote. In this model, customers are driven by engagement and fun rather than purely fulfilling a need. Even if the purchased item turns out to be unnecessary, the overall experience leaves them feeling satisfied.

The Shifting Behavior of Online Users

As people spend more and more time watching short videos and live streams, the amount of time they dedicate to browsing and buying products on traditional e-commerce platforms has decreased. A survey conducted by revealed that users spend an average of four to five hours on content browsing, with TikTok accounting for half of that time. This shift in user behavior has major implications for traditional e-commerce platforms, as they face the challenge of capturing the attention and loyalty of consumers who are increasingly drawn to the captivating content offered by short video platforms.

The Importance of the Consumer-Influencer Relationship

The rise of platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou highlights the growing significance of the consumer-influencer relationship in the e-commerce industry. Influencers, through their engaging content and authentic interactions, have the power to cultivate a sense of trust and loyalty among their followers. As a result, consumers are more inclined to make purchases based on the recommendations and endorsements of these influencers.

To succeed in this new landscape, e-commerce platforms must prioritize building and nurturing these relationships. By collaborating with influencers and providing them with the tools and resources to create compelling content, platforms can enhance the overall user experience and drive sales. Additionally, platforms can leverage user-generated content to further amplify the influence of their community of consumers and influencers.

Implications for Traditional E-Commerce Platforms

The rise of content-based e-commerce platforms poses significant challenges for traditional players like Alibaba and These platforms must adapt to the changing needs and preferences of consumers by embracing the content-driven approach and prioritizing the consumer-influencer relationship. Failure to do so could result in declining market share and relevance in an increasingly competitive industry.

To stay competitive, traditional e-commerce platforms should consider integrating video content into their platforms, fostering partnerships with influencers, and leveraging data analytics to personalize the shopping experience. By embracing these strategies, traditional players can tap into the power of engaging content and influencer marketing to drive growth and retain customers.


The landscape of e-commerce is undergoing a transformation, with content-based platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou reshaping the way people engage with online shopping. These platforms have demonstrated the power of the consumer-influencer relationship and the importance of prioritizing engagement and entertainment in the e-commerce experience.

As the industry continues to evolve, traditional e-commerce platforms must adapt to these changes or risk losing relevance. By embracing the content-driven approach, nurturing the consumer-influencer relationship, and leveraging data analytics, these platforms can position themselves for success in the new era of e-commerce.

Remember, the success of e-commerce platforms lies in their ability to understand and cater to the evolving needs and preferences of consumers. By prioritizing the consumer-influencer relationship and embracing innovative strategies, platforms can create a compelling and engaging shopping experience that resonates with users and drives growth in the competitive e-commerce landscape.

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