If you thought that TikTok was just another fad that we would inevitably grow out of, it’s time to reconsider. Since it first emerged three years ago, we have seen TikTok evolve beyond a stage for teens to share their dance moves into a cultural hub, a political platform—and now, a shopping mall.
Last week, the video-sharing tech company announced exciting new features that will transform the social media platform into a full-on e-commerce site with TikTok Shopping. These features will allow creators to share and consumers to shop for the products they see in TikToks, in what the company describes as an “immersive” shopping experience. After 18 months in the works, TikTokers can expect to see features like links to products, Livestream shopping and ads that feature multiple, targeted products in one place. Creators will also have access to some nifty e-commerce tools. Influencers will be able to connect with brands, generate leads and collect and analyze data, just to name a few tricks.
Beyond these user-facing elements, TikTok has announced that they are expanding their integration partners to encompass more e-commerce platforms. These include industry names like Square, Equis, PrestaShop, Wix, SHOPLINE, OpenCart and BASE, as well as their pilot platform, Shopify.
The rise of social commerce
Social commerce is essentially the selling and advertising of goods or services using social media – and with online retail therapy bigger than ever thanks to the COVID19 pandemic, it has really taken off. According to data collected by Insider Intelligence, social commerce is set to generate over $36 billion in the US in 2021, growing more than 35%—and that’s not even the biggest market! That title currently resides with China, with around 424 million consumers expected to make at least one purchase via social commerce this year.
While shopping on social media platforms is hardly a new concept, TikTok’s announcement is generating a lot of interest in the digital marketing space, as it’s expected to rival heavy-hitters like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest – platforms that dominate the social commerce world.
What makes TikTok different from other platforms?
First up, TikTok has shown that it is uncannily optimized for online shopping. The video format is naturally set up for demonstration and sharing experiences, and organic videos can highlight one or more products. TikTok has also proven its potential to generate viral trends featuring products across multiple categories—like food, fashion, technology and life-hacking or home-improving gadgets. Over the last 12 months, TikTok has both encouraged and taken advantage of the uptick in online shopping, generating a viral phenomenon where users are purchasing products seen in TikTok videos using the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. These videos have garnered a total of 4.6 billion views and even inspired Amazon to include a product page dedicated to the latest viral products. According to a 2021 study by Material, TikTokers were 1.7 times more likely to purchase the products they saw in the app.
We also have to mention that TikTok’s new “immersive” approach means that shoppers can experience the purchasing experience end-to-end without ever leaving the app! In other words, audiences can view a product, see details and then checkout all on the TikTok app, in what company spokespeople call a “closed loop”—although brands can still opt to redirect users to their site if they wish, using links and stickers in a similar way to Instagram. TikTok’s managing director and global head of product strategy, Ray Cao, said in an interview with WWD “It can be [an] extremely safe shopping environment. People can really see what they’re actually buying and also directly checkout in the app.”
How does TikTok Shopping impact marketing strategy?
As an e-commerce marketing agency, we are so excited by innovation in the digital market and can’t wait to see the changes roll out.
We also understand how daunting it can be to keep up with another platform.
E-commerce brands need to understand these changes if they want to thrive in this dynamic online world. Lucky for you, being across new technology and ways of communicating with consumers is our specialty—let us guide you through it.
Here are some of our tips to help you navigate the changes.
- Visual storytelling and sales: As we mentioned earlier, the rise of TikTok marks a watershed moment in how we interact and communicate with brands. Ensure you are giving your customers visual content and storytelling, which suits TikTok to a tee.
- Beyond a Gen Z market: These changes are driven by the creators and viewers that make TikTok unique and have given the platform access to a Gen Z consumer market. Marketers will need to take advantage of a younger market base than other platforms like Facebook and tailor their strategies for TikTok customers.
- Attract and interact: Marketing will trend towards interaction and data collection. Ads on TikTok are expected to be more visual and interactive, so collect conversions and data by encouraging taps, swipes and other gestures to control the results or even conduct the storytelling.
Growing your brand is all about looking for new ways to engage and rolling with the times – we should know, we are Growth Gurus after all. Find out how you can grow with the Growth Gurus industry-leading digital marketing capabilities.