TikTok’s eCommerce Conquest Blazes On

Social media has experienced an evolutionary arc from social engagement to commerce. Though the former is still primary, social channels like Instagram are increasingly shoppable. This is a natural pairing as people like to share tastes and brand affinity, thus offering products a viral kick.

This phenomenon has applied to Facebook’s News Feed, Instagram, and Snapchat among others. And shoppable formats often follow these channels’ organic formats — everything from scrolling feed/post interfaces to more animated fare like stories. This makes shopping integrations more natural.

But the wild card in the world of social media is TikTok. Now that its geopolitical uncertainties have mosly settled, the questions shift to how its discovery-based use case translates to effective ad formats. Much like the above channels, those formats will be modeled after their organic counterparts.

And the wheels are already turning for TikTok, as it reports the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag — applied when users boast TikTok inspired purchases — has grown to 4.6 billion cumulative uses. TikTok users are also 1.7 times more likely purchase products directly through its app shopping features.

Is TikTok the Next eCommerce Greenfield?

Step Forward

All of the above has continued to chug along given TikTok’s shopping features and integrations. For example, its recently-expanded partnership with Shopify bakes TikTok’s ad creation and distribution workflow directly within Shopify’s pervasive merchant-facing dashboard.

This followed the previous release earlier this year for TikTok Shopping. This essentially lets Shopify merchants that have a TikTok For Business account add a ‘Shopping’ tab to their TikTok profiles. That in turn lets them sync product catalogs and create mini-storefronts on TikTok.

These efforts took a step forward this week with a new slate of partnerships. They include Square, Ecwid, PrestaShop (active immediately); and Wix, SHOPLINE, OpenCart, and BASE (coming soon). Each of these gives its respective users direct integrations for TikTok Shopping.

For example, like the Shopify integration, merchants on the  above platforms can access TikTok ad programs right within their dashboards. Also like Shopify’s integration, merchants in some cases can set up shops and eCommerce functionality on TikTok, thus amplifying their distribution.

In all of these integrations, it’s about creating a better one-stop so merchants can sell their wares on TikTok with less friction. For example, consumers can discover, transact, and checkout – all without leaving TikTok. Sidenote: this is a progression that Instagram has been pushing for a while.

Shopify Extends Shop Pay to Google and Facebook

Early Efforts

Looking forward, TikTok has announced that the above integrations are only the beginning. We’ll see more partnerships develop wherever there are companies that work directly with merchants. That will likely include eCommerce platforms as well as website builders and others.

TikTok has also announced that other shopping integrations are coming, including a shopping API. As APIs go, this will bring many of the above integrations to a wider range of companies. In other words, partnerships won’t necessarily be needed for various services to plug in to TikTok.

TikTok also plans to generally add more features to its user experience that make it more shoppable. In other words, similar to Instagram’s product tags and stickers, these features let brands highlight products within organic TikTok videos, which link directly to product detail pages.

Meanwhile, a new live shopping feature creates a sort of QVC format within TikTok. This lets brands stream live shopping content — an increasingly popular mobile format — including product links and checkout pages. Altogether, it’s clear that TikTok is launching an all-out shopping blitz.

These shopping features will be monetized in a few ways, with most roads leading back to its core ad revenue model (following in the footsteps of Facebook, Instagram and Snap). So rather than transaction/affiliate revenue, all of the above will be a sort of stimulant for TikTok’s ad business.

There will be much to examine as that unfolds… We’ll keep our radar up new signals.

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