TikTok is expanding into e-commerce, with the addition of in-app retail features.
The feature is part of an expansion of the social network’s existing partnership with Shopify, which was first announced in October 2020. The collaboration initially centred around the creation of video ads that would link users to Shopify storefronts, but the aim now appears to be to streamline that process further.
Now, “TikTok Shopping” is to be piloted with a “select group” of existing Shopify outlets in the US, UK and Canada. It will add “new features that help Shopify merchants create engaging, organic content” and steer customers directly to make purchases.
Blake Chandlee, president of global business solutions at TikTok, commented: “TikTok is uniquely placed at the center of content and commerce, and these new solutions make it even easier for businesses of all sizes to create engaging content that drives consumers directly to the digital point of purchase.
“We’re thrilled to be expanding our partnership with Shopify and making TikTok more accessible than ever for their merchants.”
Even though the feature is just being piloted for now, it appears that businesses that want to use it in future will need both a Shopify store and a TikTok for Business account. Participating merchants will be able to add a specific shopping tab to their TikTok profiles.
Alongside the in-app storefront feature, TikTok also announced that Shopify merchants will soon be able to add product links to their ordinary posts in the app. Users who click on those tags will be brought either to the business’ in-app storefront or to their online shop to complete purchase of the relevant product.
One of the brands involved in the pilot programme is Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics. Jenner commented: “I built my business on social media; it’s where my fans go first to look for what’s new from Kylie Cosmetics.
“I have so much fun creating TikTok videos, and I love sharing posts of my fans using the products. That’s why I’m excited for Kylie Cosmetics to be one of the first to let customers shop directly on our TikTok!”
This is not the app’s first foray into the world of e-commerce, and it has been hinting that this development would take place for some time. In February it began trialling shopping channel-style content.
Other social media platforms have looked to retail as a revenue stream too, including Facebook’s Shops and Marketplace, efforts that also extend to Instagram. TikTok has also experimented with other new ways to make use of its audience, including job-application features.
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