In one of the most anticipated and least surprising moves in recent years, TikTok has officially rolled out its commerce offering, TikTok Shop, to the U.S. market.
For brands looking to amplify their efforts in the upcoming holiday season, it’s the perfect opportunity to invest in TikTok, even if they’ve mostly stayed away until now.
TikTok has always been a powerful sales generator. Some brands went from obscurity to must-have on the back of TikTok exposure (see the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit), but now it will make selling on the platform even easier. In fact, 78 percent of TikTok users purchased a product after seeing it featured in TikTok creator content. Now, it can supercharge that number by enabling brands to directly sell their products to consumers without needing them to leave the app.
And consumers are increasingly interested in buying products through their mobile phones. By 2027, Insider Intelligence believes mobile commerce will be nearly 50 percent of all e-commerce sales.
Even though TikTok has grown in popularity since launching in 2017, growing to 150 million users, not every brand has harnessed the platform’s power to connect with existing and potential customers. That’s why it’s so important to identify the right partner to help you navigate this opportunity.
Even if your brand hasn’t done much more than setting up a TikTok account, now is the time to build a presence on the platform aggressively. You can work to build up your organic content while trying out the commerce feature, with the right partner.
Now that it’s a certifiable e-commerce platform, everyone can sell directly on TikTok. The opportunity to use TikTok Shop as a new sales channel should appeal to everyone.
Here’s What You Need to Know
1. Make the right decision.
TikTok users have two options for how they can sell: in-feed video and live shopping. The former is akin to a product placement video, where users upload a video that mentions the product and provides a link where products are one click away. TikTok accounts also can sell products through livestreams like the infomercials of yore.
In addition, brands need to decide whether to sell products on their branded accounts or work directly with influencers to market their products to their audiences. Brands making this decision should verbalize their goals.
If they need to maximize sales opportunities quickly, an influencer may make sense for immediate impact. TikTok connects brands with creators through its affiliate program, which is connected to TikTok Shop.
But if the main goal is to boost TikTok account growth, brands can sell exclusive or limited-edition products on their accounts, enticing consumers to follow their accounts to receive alerts when a new product is offered. Brands can also use both influencers and their channels in a strategic way, working with influencers to drive their followers to a brand’s account, where the brand sells its products.
2. Look to Asia.
While social commerce is relatively new to the U.S. market, it has been a successful mainstay in the Asian market. Livestreams have generated billions of dollars in purchases. Many young professionals are building standalone careers as livestreaming hosts. And now that Indonesia has banned commerce on social media, it’s even more important that it grows the U.S. market.
3. Keep sales goals reasonable.
When targeting sales, remember that many TikTok users are conditioned to consume content instead of actively searching for things to buy like they would on Amazon.com. That behavior will likely change as more brands roll out TikTok Shop presences, but, for now, keep sales expectations modest until it becomes more common and more people look to TikTok for shopping.
4. Connect your trusted partners.
TikTok wisely launched with hundreds of app integrations, from commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce to multichannel platforms like ChannelAdvisor and Pipe17, and shipping services like Flowspace and Easyship. That way, brands that already have a robust e-commerce process can replicate most or all of it on TikTok, keeping their workflow efficient.
5. Begin small.
Few TikTok users will feel comfortable with buying something expensive on the platform, at least initially. The best way to try out the commerce option is to offer something inexpensive, but exclusive (e.g., a limited number of products or something only available to purchase on TikTok).
6. Allocate a campaign budget for testing.
TikTok Shop has some robust targeting tools, which could be useful for mass-market brands that may be trialing a niche product. In this scenario, the brand would be worth supplementing its work promoting products to its organic audience by investing in Shop Ads that can increase product discovery.
7. Work with the right partner.
All of the above can seem daunting to brands that have hesitated to use social commerce. However, TikTok has demonstrated the value of commerce on the platform in other markets, and U.S. consumers — especially those in Gen Z — are ready to purchase on the platform. The right partner, especially those with direct relationships with TikTok, can easily navigate this space to advise the right strategy that will produce a strong return on investment. Now is the time to invest in TikTok if a brand hasn’t before and to supercharge a presence for the brands that have been active since the beginning.
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