TikTok continues its drive to make its app a shopping destination by connecting more brands to its Shop initiative, which allows businesses to sell their goods directly in the app with a full checkout experience. TikTok started testing Shop in the US last November and we now know of a few more brands that are part of this initial testing phase.
According to a report from Ad Age, companies including clothing brands like Pacsun, Revolve and Willow Boutique, as well as beauty brand KimChi Chic are now part of this shopping experiment. Users who want to purchase products from these brands can tap the shopping cart icon on the brand’s profile to view their catalogs and complete the checkout process without leaving the TikTok app.
The company confirmed to AapkaDost that TikTok Shop in the US is “still in the testing phase” as it has been since November, but did not disclose the timeline for a wider launch.
While users have been able to purchase products through ads on TikTok for quite some time, they were previously directed to an in-app browser to make their purchase. With TikTok Shop, the checkout process takes place directly in the app, making the experience feel more natural and seamless. This is also how Instagram Shop works.
Outside of the US, TikTok Shop has been available in select markets including Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore for nearly a year. Previous reports indicated that TikTok had dropped plans to bring Shop to the US and other parts of Europe after the venture reportedly struggled to gain traction in the UK. However, TikTok seems to believe there is a market for Shop in the US given this ongoing testing.
In addition to TikTok Shop, the company has also invested in other shopping features. Last March, the app partnered with Instacart to let food creators create shoppable lists linked to recipe videos. Later in June, it began testing a dedicated shopping feed, which served as a hub for products sold in TikTok Shop, including in select markets. In addition, it experimented with live shopping in various markets such as the UK and several countries in South East Asia.
As TikTok continues to work on shopping features, its competitors’ apps are scaling back some of their ecommerce efforts. Instagram removed the shopping tab in January and announced this month that it is ending live shopping. Facebook also discontinued its live shopping feature in August 2022. Amazon, meanwhile, experimented with live shopping in various markets. In addition, YouTube introduced new live shopping features last May, such as letting two creators stream together.
However, there is little evidence that these experiments work to boost significant amounts of online commerce in Western markets, such as in Asia. Reports suggested that social commerce accounts for only 5% of e-commerce sales in the US.
That may be due to cultural differences in how apps are used between markets. But it’s also hard to keep track of all the shopping conversions that come from being influenced to buy a product in a social space. Some of those ecommerce transactions may not happen instantly using the direct links shared by a brand or creator. But the brand’s video content or ad can serve to drive a sale at a later date after the consumer has seen more digital ads or searched for the product themselves through a search on Google or Amazon, or through a visit to the retailer’s website.
However, the phrase “TikTok made me buy it” has gained popularity due to the video app’s ability to drive impulse sales. The term now even has 7.4 billion views on TikTok and the hashtag 42.6 billion. In-app shopping features can not only drive more of those sales, but can also make them trackable for brands and businesses.