The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.
Shopping on social media is nothing new. Meta launched shops on both Facebook and Instagram back in 2020, with the introduction of in-app checkout streamlining the purchase process for consumers. Since then, there’s been an explosion of in-app shopping features, with the first iteration of TikTok shops following in 2021.
Now, TikTok is looking to take its ecommerce offering to the next level by introducing the “Shop” tab for users globally. While the previous TikTok product shops allowed brands to set up their own virtual storefronts, the new feature combines product listings from multiple retailers, giving users the freedom to browse a range of products and categories and shop without leaving TikTok. This is a bold move for TikTok, placing it in competition with ecommerce giants like Amazon.
Recent developments and what’s in store for social ecommerce
TikTok has already established itself as a key player in product discovery, with up to 40% of Gen Z using the platform as a search engine. However, this has not necessarily translated into demand for ecommerce solutions, as TikTok shops got off to a relatively slow start in the U.S. last year. Consumer confidence is clearly a factor here, with Hubspot research suggesting only 37% of users would trust social media platforms with their card details. Similarly, there’s a perception that products sold through social media are of lower quality, with only 21% of users rating these products as “high quality.”
Although these concerns remain, there has been a shift in recent months, with increasing numbers of luxury brands now present on TikTok. For example, Balenciaga recently leveraged TikTok’s premium TopView placement in a shoppable campaign.
Beauty brands have also leaned into TikTok shops, including LVMH-owned brand Benefit, which launched an awareness campaign promoting its TikTok shop at the end of 2022.
These examples suggest that brands are becoming more open to social commerce on TikTok, provided they can maintain control over how their brand appears to TikTok’s vast audience.
What marketers need to consider
TikTok shops could present an interesting opportunity for ecommerce brands with a younger audience. Since the tool is still new, it may be beneficial to test the waters before committing to a full product inventory. For example, retailers could launch with one product category initially to see how it performs. It’s also worth noting that on TikTok, creative remains king. Authenticity will always resonate well, so brands should seek to be approachable and share content that is native to the platform.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that this journey should go beyond sales and transactions; it should revolve around creating remarkable brand experiences. To achieve this, embrace TikTok’s unique culture and language to nurture a sense of community and establish genuine connections with our followers. Once you get there, TikTok’s “Shop” option will seamlessly integrate into the overall brand experience.