Taobao announced in May 2018 the development of an independent short video application. And almost four months later, “Luke” was released on September 17.
Luke short video app
The Luke app is a short video community app of living consumption. It aims to help users find interesting people and things and solve problems in their daily lives by giving all users the opportunity to share their shopping experiences.
It contains eight sections in the top menu bar of the app, namely "Follow", "Hot", "Beauty", "Travel", "Home", "Food", "Child" and "Pet". There are four navigation options in the bottom menu bar: "Discover", "Recommend", "Message" and "Me". A single video display is available under "Recommend”.
Luke gives two shooting options, free shooting and Q&A shooting. The free shooting provides the same functions as other short video apps do. Q&A shooting allows users to create content based on a question asked by the app. Most of the questions are related to food and makeup on Taobao. For example, "What's the most amazing thing you've ever bought on Taobao?", "What do you have for a quick breakfast during the week?" and so on. Currently, most users who upload content on the app are mainly e-commerce institutions.
The key information that e-commerce businesses receive from this short video app relates to its e-commerce features: each video display screen has an icon for the shopping bag in the lower left corner. The product window will pop up on the screen when users click the icon. Clicking “Details” on the pop-up will direct users to the product page of the Taobao app.
For e-commerce companies that have flagship stores on Taobao, Luke could be a new promotion portal to attract potential customers. Short video content such as Q&A not only enhances brand exposure, but also improves the interaction between brands and users, thereby cultivating long-term consumers.
Why is Taobao developing an independent short video application?
In March 2018, TikTok unveiled a shopping cart button on its short video screen, directing users to the Taobao store. In May, the company opened its own store entrance where users can enter the private store for shopping. In addition to the advertising channels, all short video applications focus on traffic monetisation. Although TikTok has not yet built a dedicated e-commerce platform, its high traffic (more than 150 million daily) with a good transaction conversion rate is creating enormous competitive pressure on Alibaba and JD in e-commerce.
The monetisation of traffic in Taobao is resolved by directing it to the shops of its distributors, from whom Taobao receives advertising and transaction fees per order. In terms of long-term development strategy, Taobao, as the leader in Chinese e-commerce, can not be dependent on any third-party’s traffic entrance. This may be one of the reasons why Taobao launches its own short video app for the integration of its shopping links, namely to reduce the dependence on TikTok in a collaboration.
The value of a short video app in e-commerce
So far, the short video on Taobao has been shown more than 100 million times, indicating that users are developing a habit of browsing goods in short videos. The launch of Luke App can better satisfy users accustomed to discovering and selecting products with short videos as it will create a new and interesting shopping experience.
Shopping in different places creates different experiences. People usually go to supermarkets with the intention to buy something, while people often hang out casually in shopping malls. To give users a unique shopping experience, shopping malls provide a variety of entertainment services and integrate products into them. Live broadcasts and short videos are designed to make online shopping more entertaining. Today, live broadcasts have become a major e-commerce shopping guide, ensuring that the video is not “modified” when users see it, helping them to make shopping decisions more effectively than before. The demonstration and explanation of the hosts will further increase the users’ desire to place order.
The short video also has the value of a live broadcast for e-commerce. In addition, short video content costs less than a live broadcast. It is not necessary for the video host to stay online all the time, and the recording time for short videos is less than for live broadcasting. The video can be played multiple times, which meets the needs of users for fragmented shopping.
Taobao embarked early on in content strategy, actively seeking to gain traffic by displaying text, short videos, live broadcasts and other forms of content. Tmall, JD, VipShop, Jumei and other online shopping platforms have also launched their own short video services. According to data released by JD late last year, 25% of JD users will actively watch a video before buying. All show how important the short video is in improving sales on e-commerce platforms.
How can Luke and its e-commerce merchants get more user traffic?
Luke’s core competitiveness lies in the large-scale redirection support from e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Tmall, and a number of Alibaba products to attract the first batch of users. On the one hand, more short video content is exported to the platform to satisfy these users; on the other hand, some short videos are shared outside the station to attract more users and traffic. As an independent short video platform, Luke also has the ability to gather more high-quality video creators, create more social contents for the platform and continuously strengthen user stickiness.
In the fierce competition with short video apps like TikTok, Alibaba's Luke can pay attention to the following points to stand out:
In addition to the unique positioning of the e-commerce short video app, Luke wants to improve the unique functions of its online shopping guide and Q&A, etc, which are different from TikTok.
There is no big difference between the features on each short video platform. As a content platform, essentially the most important thing for a short video app to attract and retain users is the content itself. Only well-produced video content (commodity related content) can provide a sustainable ability to deliver content and retain users. (Here is an in-depth analysis on content marketing for reference)
E-commerce merchants who want to participate in the content platforms and attract more users should consider using superior video content to increase interaction with individual users, attract their attention, and encourage them to share videos and bring more potential customers.
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