While its in-app shopping experience hasn’t caught on as it would have hoped just yet, TikTok is slowly expanding its in-app shopping options, and making in-stream commerce a bigger focus, with the platform launching the first stage of its TikTok Shops integration in the US late last week.
As you can see in this example, TikTok Shops live on profiles, in a separate tab, where users can browse products, and even make a purchase, without leaving the app.
TikTok first launched Shops in the UK last year, and in Southeast Asia after that, but it hasn’t yet become an all-encompassing commerce solution within the app just yet.
In the UK, TikTok’s Shops rollout was plagued with problems, which were worsened by internal issues around staff management and unachievable incentive targets. That forced TikTok to scale back its plans for an expansion into Europe, but now, it’s making a move into the US market, which could be a much more lucrative push.
If it can get it right.
The launch of shops with selected US brands is the latest of several steps that TikTok’s taking to make in-stream shopping a bigger focus.
TikTok has also been working to highlight shopping live-streams to boost commerce engagement, while even more interestingly, it’s been recruiting for jobs in US-based fulfillment centers, which would provide streamlined delivery and returns for customers.
That could be a big step in building the platform into an eCommerce giant, optimizing delivery performance and response, based on sales activity within the app.
Ideally, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance will be looking to replicate the success that it’s seen with in-stream commerce in China, with the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, now generating the majority of its revenue from direct sales in the app.
As you can see in these images, on Douyin, eCommerce is already well-embedded, with various dedicated presentation features and discovery elements designed to drive shopping activity.
TikTok is following a similar trajectory, in that it’s already become a key discovery platform for younger audiences, who often now search for products and businesses in the app, as opposed to switching to Google for such.
If TikTok can marry this behavioral shift with enhanced shop displays, that could be a gold mine for the app, as it has been in China, which would facilitate revenue growth both for ByteDance and for TikTok creators.
It remains to be seen whether western audiences will ever be as receptive to in-app shopping as their Asian counterparts, but TikTok’s clearly making a bigger push, which could soon transform your in-app experience, while also opening up new potential for brands.
If it works.
We’ll keep you updated on any progress.