TikTok’s audience of over 1 billion active users may soon be able to buy viral products without leaving the app.
AdAge has reported that social media giant TikTok has ‘quietly’ launched an in-app checkout feature for direct product sales. The feature, called TikTok Shop began testing in the US in November last year but has recently invited well known pop culture brands to use the feature. Boutiques Pacsun, Revolve, Willow Boutique, and viral beauty brand KimChi Chic now offer their products on the app under a small bag icon on their profiles. Users can explore a product catalogue with images, videos, description, and prices. According to the report, users can also add products from different stores to the same cart before checking out, all without leaving the app.
TikTok Shop has been available in select markets for years now in the form of live streaming sales that redirect customers to a shopping link. It has been most successful in Indonesia and other parts of Asia.
In July last year, TechCrunch reported TikTok had dropped plans to expand its initiative to the United States and additional parts of Europe. The company launched TikTok Shop in the UK in 2021, its first market outside Asia, allowing companies and influencers to sell products through QVC-style livestreams. Reportedly, the expansion were abandoned after influencers dropped out of the project in the UK and the venture struggled to gain traction with users.
This trial in the United States comes as reports that people, especially young people, are using social medias such as TikTok as their preferred search engine. Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President at Google said at The Brainstorm Tech 2022 conference last year that, “In our studies, something like almost 40 percent of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.” According to The New York Times, Gen Z-ers crowdsource recommendations from TikTok videos to pinpoint what they are looking for, watching video after video to cull the content. Then they verify the veracity of a suggestion based on comments posted in response to the videos.
This trust in the algorithm, and the ability to complete tasks without leaving the app, makes it an ideal platform for in-app ecommerce sales. Currently, when people tap on TikTok ads or links, the app defaults to a TikTok-made in-app browser. This new shop tab however will offer broader opportunities for the platform to keep more of its operations in-house and directly deliver product listings to customer feeds.
Many brands across online and in store already cash in on the “TikTok made me buy it” tag. The hashtag has over 42 billion views on the app itself. “As seen on TikTok” is its own Amazon tag and a product tab on a variety of high profile ecommerce websites such as Casetify and Tarte Cosmetics.
Fellow social media platform Instagram has recently confirmed its own shopping feature will be shutting down as its shifts its efforts from ecommerce to advertisements. Shopping features on Instagram were added in 2018 and became a dedicated tab in the app in 2020. Last week, parent company Meta confirmed the tab would be removed along with the Live Shopping feature which allows creators to tag products in live broadcasts. “You will still be able to set up and run your shop on Instagram as we continue to invest in shopping experiences for people and businesses across feed, stories, Reels, ads, and more,” reads the Instagram support page.
Currently, there is no reports of when TikTok Shop’s in-app checkout feature will make its way to Australia.
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