TikTok is living proof that social media helps 87% of eCommerce shoppers make purchase decisions.1 There are over 17 billion views across TikTok videos tagged #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.2 A quick scroll through the hashtag reveals a plethora of unboxings, shopping hauls, product reviews, and “life hack” demonstrations, with creators sharing items they purchased after seeing them on TikTok.
Although it’s not a new concept for social media to affect our buying habits, the platform with over one billion monthly active users is poised to capitalise on the opportunities of the eCommerce market.3 In fact, beyond the lip syncing, dancing, and public prank videos, TikTok is quickly becoming a product recommendation engine that drives eCommerce. Many online retailers have already discovered the huge potential TikTok has for advertising and selling products – and the platform has continued to respond to the demand to make social commerce easier and more seamless.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce refers to the buying and selling of products or services directly within a social media app like TikTok, Instagram or Facebook. With social commerce, the entire shopping experience – from product discovery and research, to checkout and recommendation – happens in one place. As such, social media shopping ultimately removes friction from the customer journey, making it easier for customers to follow through with an online purchase.
TikTok joins the eCommerce revolution
In 2020 – when the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a dramatic surge in online shopping – TikTok launched TikTok for Business, giving online retailers the ability to reach new audiences and drive more sales through advertising on TikTok. This move was bolstered by TikTok’s partnership with Shopify in October 2020, enabling TikTok for Business account holders to deploy in-feed shoppable video ads directly within Shopify.4 Merchants simply select which product they would like to feature, and video ads are automatically generated that drive TikTok users to the merchant’s Shopify store for checkout.
Spotting a crucial gap in the market, TikTok expanded its partnership with Shopify in August 2021 and launched TikTok Shopping among a select group of Shopify merchants across the US, UK, and Canada.5 TikTok Shopping is the app’s dedicated platform for retailers and creators to sell products directly to users on TikTok through in-feed videos, LIVEs, and the product showcase tab. This represents a significant step in a rapidly developing social commerce space that combines video-centric virality with a frictionless, in-app shopping experience.
Whilst adoption of TikTok Shopping has been initially slow among western audiences, there’s clearly huge potential for those that can get it right. Refusing to let TikTok dominate another element of online video engagement, YouTube has also partnered with Shopify to offer users a means of featuring their products across their YouTube channels and content.6
Get ahead with in-app shopping
According to research from MarketingWeek, 79% of TikTok users in the UK alone have discovered new brands through the platform, while 54% have purchased from a brand after seeing it on TikTok.7 With TikTok Shop fully rolled out in the UK (and expected to launch in many other countries in the coming months), now is the best time for online businesses to get ahead of the competition and start taking advantage of TikTok’s consumer influence. Read on to learn how to set up a TikTok Shop and optimise the in-app shopping experience for your TikTok customers.
How to set up a TikTok Shop
Online businesses can set up a TikTok Shop in just a few simple steps:
Navigate to the relevant TikTok Shop Seller Center for your region to register. For the UK, this would be https://www.seller-uk.tiktok.com. You can register via phone and email address or with your TikTok or TikTok for Business account. TikTok will verify your details. Follow the on-screen instructions until registration is complete.
2. Verify documents
Once registration is complete, read TikTok’s Terms & Conditions before selecting “Start Selling” from the pop-up window. You will be directed to set up your TikTok Shop, which starts with verifying the relevant documents (e.g. passport/driver’s licence/Certificate of Incorporation) and stating your shop name.
3. Upload your products
Start to upload information about the products you want to sell on TikTok, whether it's clothes, cosmetics, books, small homeware, toys and games, and more. As this is the first time you are adding products to your TikTok Shop, you will need to specify your warehouse/shop pickup address.
4. Link your bank account
Link the bank account you wish TikTok Shop payments to be made to. Ensure you provide the correct bank account details to prevent errors or delays in payment processing. It’s important to note that your bank account can only be linked once document verification has been completed.
5. Start selling on TikTok
You’re ready to sell on TikTok! Start by producing some fun and engaging TikTok content to attract your target audience and get them excited about your products. You’ll be able to manage your inventory, orders, promotions, and more from the TikTok Shop Seller Center.
6. Fulfil your TikTok Shop orders
As TikTok users browse and buy products from your TikTok Shop, you will need to pick and pack the orders, before shipping them to your customers. You can choose to fulfil your TikTok orders in-house or outsource order fulfilment to a trusted 3PL (third-party logistics) provider like Zendbox, who can use its own technology to integrate with the back-end system of your TikTok Shop to begin handling the process on your behalf for maximum ease.
Five tips for driving sales through your TikTok Shop
Similarly to platforms like Instagram, TikTok is becoming a must-have tool among eCommerce businesses to strengthen their brand, develop customer relationships, and – ultimately – drive product sales. Here are five tips to help you get the most out of your TikTok Shop:
1. Optimise your product catalogue
The storefront for your TikTok Shop can be found on the shopping tab of your TikTok profile. Here, you’ll want your product catalogue looking its best to appeal to customers and encourage them to buy. Focus on quality and style when adding product images, which should be easily recognisable as your brand by maintaining consistency with the rest of your TikTok aesthetic.
2. Think like a creator, not a brand
Now that your TikTok Shop is live, you’ll want to get to the fun part: creating TikTok videos to promote your products. It’s important to approach this as a creator, not a brand, in order to succeed. Consumers want to feel connected to the people behind their favourite brands and when this happens, 57% of customers will increase their spending with that brand, whilst 76% will buy from them over a competitor.8
Connection breeds loyalty and, consequently, bottom line growth. As such, don’t be afraid to get creative on TikTok so you produce the most authentic content with a strong brand identity. Investing in bespoke packaging and promotional material enables you to stand out from competitors, whilst ensuring the customer journey - including unboxing – is always camera-ready.
It’s also important to actively and consistently engage with users that like, share and comment on your TikTok content. This will demonstrate that you’re not just there to make a quick sale, but to build a community around your brand.
3. Promote user-generated content
On the topic of content creation, it’s important to remember that there’s a reason why “TikTok Made Me Buy It” is a household phrase. Many eCommerce brands go viral on the platform solely because of everyday TikTok users posting a video of themselves raving about products they bought. Take advantage of this opportunity by creating your own hashtag or TikTok challenge that encourages your audience to share videos of themselves with your products. It’s ultimately free advertising that also helps familiarise potential customers with your brand and products.
4. Leverage influencer marketing
TikTok creators and influencers – especially those who form part of your target audience – can help you reach new customers and significantly grow awareness around your brand. Considering 80% of consumers have purchased something based on an influencer’s recommendation, this is one area of your marketing strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked.9
To find a TikTok creator that falls into your niche, try searching for hashtags or phrases that relate to your products, and browse the top videos to see if there are any influencers that align with your business goals and ethos.
As your TikTok Shop grows, you might find yourself reaching a point where you are unable to keep up with increased demand, which could mean your customers suffer from a lower-quality service. At this stage, it might be time to consider working with a reliable 3PL (third-party logistics) provider to fulfil your TikTok Shop orders with speed, accuracy, and cost-efficiency.
By combining content, creators, and commerce, social media platforms like TikTok are transforming online selling and creating immersive shopping and product discovery experiences that feel more organic for consumers. Brands are now facing a future where products can be readily purchased anywhere online, not just from eStores. Those that act on the opportunities presented by this space now will ultimately set the trends for the competition to follow.
Gilson leads the dynamic marketing team at Zendbox in producing insightful content designed to help eCommerce businesses scale up. With over 20 years of digital marketing experience, Gilson is highly adept at discovering business hacks and providing solutions to impossible problems.
1Friedman, B. (2018) Social Networks and eCommerce [Infographic]. Social Media Today. Link: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/social-networks-and-ecommerce-infographic/517583/. [Last accessed: 21.07.22]