A few years ago, it may have been enough for a brand to run its China e-commerce operation via a Tmall and JD.com shopfront, with a WeChat mini-program to take care of social media. In 2021, that’s no longer the case, as both the social media and e-commerce landscapes have become more fragmented, yet with each individual strand more tightly interwoven into a web of social commerce. For e-commerce brands in particular, Douyin and Xiaohongshu stores are a crucial point of brand accessibility and exposure.
While most social platforms offer some kind of integration with off-platform e-commerce providers like Tmall, many have also built out the capacity to manage transactions within their own apps. This offers brands the option to open in-app Douyin and Xiaohongshu stores, both of which are huge drivers of consumer chatter and ultimately conversions.
Today we’ll break down, step by step, the process brands need to follow to get set up with their own Douyin and Xiaohongshu stores, and ready to take on 2021 with renewed purpose.
1. Create an account and get verified.
When opening Douyin and Xiaohongshu stores, the process starts with downloading the app and registering your account. On Xiaohongshu, users start by registering a personal account then applying for an upgrade to an official account. Prospective store owners need to provide a variety of information about the business to be approved for an official account. This includes basic business information, information about the owner, as well as the company’s logo, trademarks, and business license. On Douyin, the critical step is to get the account verified, which we’ll discuss in step 3.
2. Select the type of store you’ll need
Douyin has a variety of options for store type, each of which serves a slightly different purpose with different functionalities. Stores are tailored to different types of vendors and brands, and some will be better suited to your specific circumstances than others. Select the format that best lines up with the brand’s needs and circumstances.
Douyin’s “basic” store (普通店) is available both to companies and solo entrepreneurs alike, and can be used to sell a single brand’s stock or multiple brands. However, to qualify for a basic account, the store must fall within one of four industries: sports, clothing, shoes or kitchenware. The “flagship” option is intended specifically for brands to sell their own products, while “specialty” stores are for authorized resellers of a single brand’s goods. Finally, Douyin “franchises” are multi-brand stores, required to stock a minimum of two brands per category of goods. Franchise store owners must show trademarks for each brand they stock.
Xiaohongshu stores are more straightforward, but users still have a choice between opening their own store or selling wholesale through the platform. Obviously, running your own store has its benefits in terms of branding and retaining control over marketing and customer communications.
3. Verify the store
Verification is a critical hurdle to pass before the store can interact and do business with KOLs. As such, it’s vital that the store owner understands what documentation they will need to submit to make the grade for the specific type of store they wish to operate. For Douyin users, head to this page for verification. Douyin typically responds swiftly to verification requests – expect a decision within one or two business days.
Predictably enough, the list of requirements for verifying a basic store is shorter than for other store types. Basic store owners need to provide a range of information about the owner/operator, the company, and its legal representative, including submitting contact data, the organization’s business license, and the legal representative’s ID. The store must also specify which category it is operating within.
Flagship stores must submit all of the above information and documents along with trademark documents and the brand’s names in English and Chinese. Specialty and franchise stores should supplement their application with any reseller agreements they have secured.
Store operators have to pay a deposit before their Douyin store is verified. The deposit for a basic store is $500, while other stores range $4,000-$20,000 depending on what industry the brand is in.
To open your own store on Xiaohongshu, follow the instructions outlined in step 1, but register the account on Xiaohongshu’s business portal with a company email. Xiaohongshu doesn’t allow individual vendors to open their own stores as some e-commerce platforms like Taobao do. To apply for a Xiaohongshu store, the brand has to submit company documentation as well as bank details. If you’re selling another brand’s products, you need to submit any reseller agreements to Xiaohongshu. The review process typically takes around three days, after which Xiaohongshu will ask you to sign the user agreement.
The final hurdle for Xiaohongshu users to clear is to work through a series of training modules.
4. Douyin and Xiaohongshu stores: Get to work!
Once verified, you can get down to business. Douyin and Xiaohongshu stores can be used to drop e-commerce links into content, including videos and live streams. But critically, verified stores enable the store owner to partner with KOLs, who can post your store’s product links into their own content. This is great for running campaigns in partnership with KOLs.
Xiaohongshu stores are user-friendly, featuring well-integrated product pages and seamless transactions. Owners can manage transactions, run campaigns, post content and connect with consumers via their store pages. Verified brand accounts can use Xiaohongshu’s KOL platform to identify suitable KOLs to partner with on campaigns. Store owners can also outsource logistics to Xiaohongshu’s shipping service, taking advantage of the platform’s storage facilities and logistics management capabilities.