Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has soared in popularity. Now the social media platform of choice for Gen Z, marketers have had to turn their attention to the video-focused networking service to ensure they’re reaching the younger generation. 

With any social media platform comes product discovery, and TikTok is no different. Ecommerce giants such as ASOS and Gymshark were quick to set up accounts and start posting content, but with no real ecommerce features, monetising the platform has been difficult until recent months. 

With Instagram, Facebook and YouTube way ahead in the ecommerce game, TikTok risked losing their top creators if they failed to embrace revenue streams in the same way. There’s no doubt they have the audience, but they severely lacked any kind of advertising system that their competitors had long had in place until fairly recently. 

Why is TikTok so popular?

It’s easy to see why Gen Z and young millennials enjoy TikTok. It’s trend-focused, creative and provides hours of entertainment, whether you’re watching dance challenges or beauty hacks. It gives users the chance to respond to current events instantly. 

TikTok content tends to be more instructional than other platforms. On Instagram, for example, you’re likely to find images titled ‘outfit of the day’, whereas on TikTok, you can find short videos telling you how to achieve that look or imitate your favourite style icons. It can be assumed, then, that TikTok is more engaging, and dare we say empowering, than an image or text-focused platforms. 

Is TikTok ‘shoppable’?

For many retailers, the app offers the ideal format for showcasing products. But with no ‘shoppable’ features like Instagram and Facebook, it’s not easy to get your product links in front of consumers, or to track the success of your posts. Fashion, lifestyle, gadgets etc are what TikTok app users spend their disposable income on, and TikTok is the perfect place to showcase these, meaning ecommerce features were a natural next step for the app. 

In 2020, TikTok announced that three new ecommerce integrations were in development. 

1. A affiliate tool that lets TikTok’s most popular users share links to products and earn commission when a user makes a purchase 

The TikTok For Business marketing suite offers an ad manager tool, which allows the most followed accounts to generate affiliate links. When a purchase is made through said link, the user will be paid commission. Brands can recruit the most followed TikTok creators to promote their products via affiliate links placed in their videos, which receive thousands of views. 

2. The ability for brands to showcase product catalogues via Shopify integration

TikTok and Shopify integration was made available last autumn, allowing merchants to widen their paid social media presence and reach the platform’s 1 billion monthly users

Does Shopify work with TikTok?

This global partnership allows more than a million merchants to run promotions on TikTok without leaving their Shopify dashboard. After being launched in the US, Shopify expanded their TikTok partnership into 14 additional countries. This means that UK-based Shopify merchants of all sizes can access the core functions of TikTok For Business Ad Manager from their own Shopify accounts alongside other social media marketing tools, keeping your processes as streamlined as possible. 

How do I connect TikTok to Shopify? 

Connecting your TikTok and Shopify accounts is very simple. Shopify users will be familiar with the way apps work within the platform. Simply search for TikTok in the Shopify App Store and press the ‘Add App’ button. The TikTok app is free to install. 

Once set up, the TikTok app should appear in the ‘Marketing’ section of your Shopify dashboard. From here you can create paid TikTok ads, adding links to specific products from your store’s catalogue. When creating an ad, you’ll be able to choose from various video options, allowing you to publish professional, high quality ads without any videography or design skills. 

3. Live streamed shopping videos, similar to TV shopping channels

When you think of Gen Z, QVC-style shopping probably doesn’t come to mind. But TikTok is set to modernise the TV shopping model by launching a live video streaming ecommerce function that allows merchants to showcase products, and viewers to purchase them with a few taps. The Chinese company has stated that the feature is similar to traditional TV shopping channels, but has been adapted for mobile. This feature is set to be rolled out this year, having been tested in the US by Walmart, so watch this space. 

Walmart TikTok Live Stream
Image Credit: TechCrunch

Is video the future of ecommerce? 

As TikTok continues to invest in new tools and integrations, it’s clear that the app isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and is only set to grow.

If TikTok remains the social networking platform of choice for the younger generations, retailers may see a shift in the types of content that users respond to. Ecommerce optimisation is clearly a key area of focus for TikTok, meaning retailers, and in particular Shopify merchants, should take notice and begin to strategise if they haven’t already. 

The above tools have been a key element in the monetisation of the Chinese version of the app, and after proven success, a couple were rolled out across other markets including the UK. In-app purchases now generate the majority of Douyin’s revenue, so it’s not surprising that TikTok will follow suit across the globe. 

Need help with your brand’s ecommerce strategy? Send us a message and we’ll be in touch.