The Rise of Social Commerce on TikTok

The Rise of Social Commerce on TikTok

TikTok has exploded in growth in recent years, fueled partly by the pandemic and the ‘extra time’ many of us had on our hands. In fact, the app hit a massive 1 billion annual active users in 2021, making it the fourth-biggest social media platform after Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. 

With so much social clout, it is hardly surprising that brands and influencers are turning to TikTok to help drive product and service sales. However, until recently the commerce functionality of the video-first social platform has been lacking. 

In this article, we are going to explore the rise of social commerce on TikTok and what that may mean for the future. 

The Selling Power of TikTok

TikTok is quickly becoming the favourite platform for influencers and brands alike. But why is this? 

The first and most obvious reason is the video-first nature of the platforms. One study by mention found that, on average, video social media content received over 2 x the amount of engagement (comments) than still images. 

Videos allow influencers and brands to create a more personal relationship with their followers – as video content is often seen as more genuine than images that can be heavily edited. 

Another reason why TikTok is favoured by brands and influencers as a tool to help engage and sell to users is the huge organic reach the platform offers. In fact, organic reach on TikTok averages 188% – which is huge when compared to platforms such as Facebook (5.2%) and Instagram (7.57%).

Ultimately, if you want to get your products in front of more people without having to fork out for a huge ad spend – TikTok is by far the best platform. 

TikTok Commerce: History

Due to the interactive and engaging nature of the TikTok platform, it has always been a hub of influencers and brands demonstrating and singing the virtues of the latest products. 

However, historically TikTok hasn’t offered tools to users to make commerce on the platform easier. Although influencers and brands would use the platform to talk about products, with no ability to publish hyperlinks, let alone an ability to make purchases directly through the app, selling via TikTok has always led consumers to conduct their own internet searches in order to find the products they see on the platform. 

Arguably, the lack of commerce functionality is a little strange for a platform that has given birth to countless ‘viral products’ ranging from sunset lamps and milk frothers to countless beauty products. 

Up until recently, this has put TikTok at a disadvantage when compared with the advanced and ever-growing commerce functionality of competitors such as Facebook and Instagram. 

TikTok Commerce: Now 

TikTok has identified an opportunity to better facilitate commerce on their platform and have made recent changes to make promoting products easier for everyone. 

For some time, those with a business account on TikTok could include a link to their bio, similar to Instagram. This was helpful for businesses that wanted to link through to their e-commerce pages, but unhelpful for other users such as influencers without specialist business accounts. 

However, TikTok made a change in 2021 that offers all accounts the option to include a dedicated link in their bio. This has allowed influencers and brands to mention products in their videos and direct the audience to find out more or purchase through their link. 

More excitingly, TikTok is now rolling out direct e-commerce functionality on the platform, allowing a select number of accounts to include links in their short-form videos to buy products. As part of this update, the platform is also offering complete e-commerce functionality to businesses which covers everything from product upload and point of purchase – through to fulfilment. 

This update is being achieved by developing strategic partnerships with:

  • Shopify
  • Square
  • Ecwid
  • Prestashop

…and more to be announced shortly. 

Not only are TikTok catching up with their competitors by rolling out helpful commerce features, but they are also leading from the cutting edge with LIVE Shopping. This allows certain accounts to go live whilst pinning products to their live feed – making it super easy to promote and direct viewers to find out more or make a purchase. 

The Rise of TikTok Commerce: What Does This Mean? 

It is clear that TikTok has identified commerce as a valuable space in the market. We will likely see the company continue to make investments in developing their commerce functionality as they begin to further monetise brands and influencers who use the platform to promote products and make direct sales. 

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