Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2021. Since then, TikTok has fully launched TikTok Shopping. The benefits and opportunities discussed in this blog still stand, but you can learn more about the official launch here: TikTok Officially Launches TikTok Shopping.
Ecommerce just took a new victim.
In TikTok news, the platform announced Tuesday that they are now pilot testing TikTok Shopping, an expansion to their partnership with Shopify.
This means that TikTok has officially joined the ranks of social media platforms with in-app shopping capabilities.
What Is TikTok Shopping?
TikTok Shopping is TikTok’s newest ecommerce selling tool. It allows Shopify merchants with a TikTok for Business account to add a Shopping tab to their TikTok profile. On this tab, you can sync all your products, creating a mini-storefront for users.
Ecommerce businesses with a TikTok shop will also be able to tag products in organic videos via product links. When clicked, the links redirect users to your Shopify store – no advertisement required.
Part of what distinguishes the new feature from competitors like Facebook Shops and Instagram Checkout is that it consists of in-app shopping, not purchasing. When TikTok users go to explore or buy a product, the link takes them to the business’s Shopify store to complete the transaction. While in-app purchases are considered smoother for users, transferring potential buyers to your website allows you to maintain more control over the purchasing experience and user data.
In addition to browsing products within the TikTok app, we found that users can favorite products the way they would a video, hashtag, sound or effect. However, when we tested it out, the product didn’t show up in our favorites, so this feature may not be functioning yet.
As for what TikTok Shopping will cost sellers, there has yet to be any announcement. Presumably, it would be free during these testing stages. Based on competitor actions, TikTok will probably charge a service or per-order fee once the feature rolls out.
Who Has Access?
TikTok is piloting the Shopping tab in the US and UK, with plans to expand to Canada in the coming weeks and other regions in the coming months. You need both a storefront through Shopify and a TikTok for Business account to use it, and right now, only select merchants can access the feature.
The first big brand to test it out is Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Jenner’s makeup brand. To see it in action, visit @kyliecosmetics TikTok profile from the mobile app.
How Do I Make My TikTok Shoppable?
To make your TikTok profile shoppable, request to join the shopping pilot. According to Shopify, merchants can request to join through Shopify’s TikTok channel or through this page here.
Why a TikTok Shop Is Great for Ecommerce Businesses
If you haven’t heard of TikTok, you don’t exist. The rapidly growing platform knows when to strike, and it’s chosen a fantastic time to push into social commerce.
While many tout that TikTok created shoppable profiles to compete with Facebook, the truth is that ecommerce is booming. It just so happens that Facebook will be TikTok’s biggest competitor in the social commerce space.
But online shopping isn’t the only thing on the rise – or else we would have been more excited about Twitter’s recent venture.
A Youthful, Growing and Engaged Audience
TikTok’s growth is explosive. At the beginning of 2021, TikTok had 689 million active global users and has since become the first non-Facebook-owned app to reach over 3 billion installs.
To further appeal to businesses, the app entertains users of all age groups, but its audience skews young. Approximately 32.5% of its audience is between the ages of 10 and 19, and 29.5% is between the ages of 20 and 29.
The app’s audience is also highly engaged. Statista found that the average US TikTok influencer has a whopping engagement rate of 17.99%.
While big ecommerce brands can throw down their name and harvest a large following anywhere, the platform gives smaller brands an unrivaled opportunity to be discovered by consumers. Unlike Facebook, you don’t have to depend on ads or shares for users who don’t follow your business to see your content.
Instagram gets closer with Discover feeds and hashtags, but within the TikTok app, users don’t have to make any effort to find something new to stumble across your content. Instead, the app suggests videos within the user’s regular feed, so users can see content with 13 thousand likes and 2 likes back to back.
To top it off, when this happens, your video takes up the entire screen, so you’re not competing for attention.
More Than Visual
When it comes to social commerce, the visual element is integral. Not only is seeing believing, but visual platforms are more engaging and memorable. TikTok takes the engagement up a notch by being visual like Instagram but prioritizing video over photography.
Between the movement, sound and quick nature of its content, the platform requires and captures users’ full attention.
TikTok also thrives on trends, which means easy content inspiration for ecommerce newcomers and a lot of potential to become a trend-setter.
As Blake Chandlee, President of TikTok’s Global Business Solutions, puts it:
“Our community has transformed shopping into an experience that’s rooted in discovery, connection, and entertainment, creating unparalleled opportunities for brands to capture consumers’ attention.”
Users Love Products: #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt
We know we expressed little hope for Twitter’s shop module, but that’s because Twitter’s platform isn’t particularly conducive to online shopping. Users go there for quick news, hot takes and funny quips. User’s don’t visit profiles often, and it’s a text-based medium.
TikTok, on the other hand, is perfect for showing off your ecommerce products in a fun way. Better yet, its users want to be sold to.
One of TikTok’s biggest current trends is #tiktokmademebuyit, where users share items that TikTok inspired them to buy. At the time of this article, the hashtag has over 4.7 billion views.
Will TikTok Shopping Stick Around?
Chances are that TikTok shopping is here to stay – and expand.
The Shopify-TikTok partnership was first announced in October of 2020 to improve TikTok ads for Shopify businesses. It allowed Shopify’s merchants to create, manage and track their TikTok campaigns from a dashboard within Shopify.
Then TikTok installs across Shopify’s social commerce channels increased by 76%.
Furthermore, TikTok began testing a shopping feature in Europe back in May in hopes that it would rock the ecommerce market like its cousin company in China, Douyin. Douyin, also owned by ByteDance, scored $26 billion in ecommerce transactions in its first year alone.
The fact that Douyin and the Shopify-TikTok partnership have done so well and that TikTok is pushing forward after testing these features is promising news.
The TikTok shop also wouldn’t be the company’s first successful ecommerce venture. Over the past couple of years, TikTok has implemented features that its ecommerce partners have successfully used to sell on the platform. Walmart’s livestream shopping events and Levi’s use of TikTok’s Shop Now buttons are but two examples.
In its current state, TikTok Shopping does have glaring limitations in the form of accessibility.
As an extension of TikTok’s Shopify partnership, the feature is only available to ecommerce websites hosted through Shopify. This means that even after it rolls out, you won’t be able to make your TikTok shoppable unless you have a Shopify website.
Hopefully, as TikTok Shopping racks up dollars, the platform will create new partnerships or features that allow other ecommerce websites to take advantage of selling on the platform.
Since the company has plans to expand into social commerce, selling on TikTok through Shopify may very well be the test for launching much greater undertakings in the ecommerce space.