ByteDance Tests Food Delivery Service to Potentially Rival Alibaba’s

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
ByteDance Tests Food Delivery Service to Potentially Rival Alibaba’s
Photo: Unsplash

TikTok parent ByteDance has tested a Douyin food delivery service in three Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. 

ByteDance Ltd is reportedly testing a food delivery service in China via its Douyin short video app. According to CNBC, the TikTok parent is test-running a service that facilitates merchant promotion and sales of ‘group-buying’ packages. Although ByteDance has restricted these food delivery tests to Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu, the company is considering extending the service beyond the trial.

The food delivery service could pit ByteDance against major e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba and Meituan. However, reports state that ByteDance’s business model differs from Alibaba and Meituan’s, which are both on-demand services similar to Uber Eats.

A Douyin spokesperson explained how the ByteDance food delivery works. According to the spokesperson, restaurateurs often livestream on Douyin to market their businesses. These restaurant owners can now offer discounts and coupons for their food products to viewers of the videos. Furthermore, users could purchase available offers and choose a preferred delivery time within two days.

On the possibility of expanding beyond the Chinese trial cities, the Douyin spokesperson said:

“We would consider expanding the feature to more cities in the future depending on the testing results. There is no detailed timeline yet.”

ByteDance Has Been Testing Food Delivery Services since Last December

ByteDance has been testing the food delivery feature since December. With this service, the internet tech company hopes to carve out a respectable market share in an industry dominated by Meituan and Last year, research firm IMARC Group said that the Chinese food delivery market was worth $66.4 billion.

ByteDance has also been exploring other areas of online shopping outside of China. The Beijing-based Chinese tech mainstay launched international e-commerce websites late last year to attract foreign buyers.

In October, ByteDance launched a fashion website called If Yooou, which ships to Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. Around the same time, one of China’s biggest e-commerce companies, Pinduoduo, also launched a US shopping site, Temu.

Speaking on ByteDance and Pinduoduo’s Western online initiatives at the time, WPIC chief executive Jacob Cooke noted:

“I think ByteDance and [Pinduoduo] are seizing an opportunity to apply their unique social commerce innovations [to markets abroad].”

With the launch, both Chinese e-commerce platforms also look to replicate the success of the Chinese fast fashion brand Shein. As of last October, Shein was worth $100 billion and had secured a substantial customer base in the United States and beyond. In July 2022, reports stated that the company sought an American initial public offering (IPO) by 2024.

China Downsizing

In other recent ByteDance news, the TikTok parent cut hundreds of Chinese jobs early last month to streamline operations. According to two inside sources, ByteDance downsized across its multiple departments amid broader unpopular policies initiated by Beijing.

Furthermore, the job cuts also came as China grappled with the widespread effects of the second wave of Covid breakouts. In 2022, other tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent also cut thousands of jobs.

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