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Is TikTok Shopping the Future of Social Commerce?

Updated on November 23, 2020
6 minute read

We look at TikTok’s rise as an e-commerce destination and share our predictions on how TikTok will impact social commerce.

Published November 23, 2020

TikTok’s popularity is skyrocketing, and not just with Gen Z.

As the platform continues to roll-out new shopping features, including a brand new partnership with Shopify, e-commerce brands are beginning to see TikTok’s potential too.

But is shopping on TikTok the future of social commerce?

Below, we look at TikTok’s rise as an e-commerce destination and share our predictions on how TikTok will impact social commerce in 2021 and beyond:

Is TikTok the Future of Social Commerce?

E-commerce brands have recognized the importance of social media for many years, but it’s only recently that social platforms have incorporated shopping into their experience.

Facebook was the first to do it, and its success helped lock in its dominance. But now, almost every major social media platform has its own fully integrated e-commerce system, from Pinterest to Snapchat.

While much of the focus has been on Facebook and Instagram, the conversation seems to be shifting to TikTok, a relative newcomer in the social media world.

But what makes TikTok special? Why is it getting so much recognition as a social commerce platform?

Well, a number of reasons come to mind.

Social media is increasingly being driven by visual experiences, and nowhere is this more evident than on TikTok, which specializes in rich and diverse short-form video content.

E-commerce brands that capitalize on this opportunity can build large and engaged followings, and ultimately create a community around their products.

TikTok’s audience is also typically younger than other social platforms, which creates an opportunity for brands hoping to access (and drive revenue from) younger audiences — like millennials and the first wave of Gen Z.

Compare this with Facebook’s audience, which is more diverse age-wise but skews older, and you can see why so many brands are treating TikTok as one the best opportunities to reach young consumers.

TikTok is also poised to be the next “big” social commerce platform thanks to the rollout of several new shopping features.

To date, TikTok has experimented with allowing users to add e-commerce links to their bios, launched “Shop Now” buttons for brands’ video ads, and introduced the “Hashtag Challenge Plus” e-commerce feature which allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored hashtag.

But TikTok’s biggest foray into social shopping was just recently announced (more on that later).

Want to know how to make more sales on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Social Selling now!

TikTok Officially Moves Into the Social Commerce Space with New Shopify Deal

In late October, TikTok announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with the e-commerce platform, Shopify. According to Satish Kanwar, Vice President of Product at Shopify, the partnership is aimed to make it easier for Shopify’s over 1 million merchants to reach TikTok’s younger audience and drive sales.

“TikTok is one of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment platforms with over 100 million highly engaged users in the U.S. alone,” Kanwar said in an interview with TechCrunch.

“The TikTok channel means Shopify merchants — even those without a strong TikTok following of their own yet — can connect with these new audiences using content that feels authentic and genuine to the TikTok experience.”

Image credit: Shopify

Merchants who get access to the program will be able to connect their TikTok for Business account with their Shopify account and sell products on TikTok via in-feed shoppable video ads.

The best part? Everything is managed via Shopify’s dashboard, including ad creation, targeting (gender, age, user behavior, and video category), optimization, and tracking.

Image credit: Shopify

Shopify merchants can also install or connect their “TikTok Pixel” — a tool that helps track conversions driven by their TikTok ad campaigns.

Like the Facebook Pixel, Shopify merchants will be able to use the TikTok Pixel to track user actions like a user browsing their page, adding items to their cart, placing an order, and completing the payment.

While businesses have been able to run targeted ad campaigns on TikTok for some time now, this new partnership represents TikTok’s biggest leap towards integrating e-commerce into its platform — and it’s only just the beginning!

We expect TikTok to launch a number of new e-commerce features in the near future, including native checkout, shopping-specific channels, and new ad formats.

Looking for an easy way to give your TikTok content a boost? Plan, schedule, and post to TikTok with Later!

3 Predictions About TikTok Social Commerce

Although still new, social commerce on TikTok has already proven to be massively appealing to brands. Below, we highlight a few of our predictions for how TikTok will impact social commerce in 2021 and beyond:

#1: Brands Will Be Able to Tap Into Younger Audiences

It’s hard to overstate how popular TikTok is with younger demographics, especially Gen Z. In fact, according to a recent report, over 60% of TikTok users belong to this emerging consumer generation.

This presents a huge opportunity for brands looking to engage with younger audiences.

But it also means that businesses need to understand the characteristics that drive Gen Z and their purchasing decisions — like authenticity, brand purpose, and self-expression.

Want to know more? Check out our guide to Gen Z marketing in 2021!

#2: Brands Will Have to Tailor Their Content to the Aesthetic of the Platform

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and other platforms have a very different visual aesthetic than TikTok, so it isn’t enough to simply repurpose your in-feed ads from those platforms.

In order to create ads that convert on TikTok, brands will need to embrace the platform’s dynamic, high-energy, storytelling style. And that means creating ads that look and feel like a native piece of TikTok content.

If you’re just getting started with TikTok and haven’t mastered the style yet, it might be worthwhile to collaborate with a TikTok creator to give your ad content a more native and organic feel — lifestyle and apparel brand Aerie does this quite often.

TikTok’s recently launched Creator Marketplace is a good place to start for identifying influencers to collaborate with.

Learn everything you need to know about creating TikTok ads in our free guide!

#3: Short-form Video Advertising Will Become Even More Important

The TikTok-Shopify partnership will likely produce a number of new social commerce features in the future, but for the time being, in-feed video ads are your best shot at driving e-commerce sales on TikTok.

As such, it’s important to get comfortable with short-form video ads that capture users’ attention and interest within the first few seconds.

As the partnership between TikTok and Shopify continues to develop, we e-commerce to become an even bigger part of TikTok’s environment.

Will it surpass Instagram or Facebook in terms of its ability to drive sales for brands? That remains to be seen.

If you’re looking for even more TikTok tips and tricks, watch our free 30-minute TikTok workshop below.

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About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist

Benjamin is a Content Marketing Strategist based in Toronto.

Plan, schedule, and automatically publish your social media posts with Later.

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