Shopping on TikTok is nothing new. In fact, it’s a bonafide phenomenon, which is why the world anxiously awaits the impact of TikTok Shopping—a new TikTok platform for brands to sell directly within their TikTok businesses, right on the app.
One of the most fascinating TikTok rabbit holes to go down, especially if you’re the owner of a TikTok business account or you just love to shop? Browsing #tiktokmademebuyit.
The hashtag has 14.4 billion views and counting. It is a collection of product posts—a menagerie of accounts giving presentations on how their items work and why you should buy them, each hoping for a rush of orders, each hoping for the virality that TikTok’s famed algorithm makes easier for the small business owner.
This hashtag is so mesmerizing because you never know what you’re going to find. Or what will blow up. Or why.
Indeed, TikTok is responsible for creating sell-out sensations out of random items with great marketing like laser printers, cereal dispensers, and even a countertop dishwasher. A few months ago a tattoo artist in Utah got a video to go viral and now he says he’s booked solid, earning $20,000 a month.
TikTok Users Love to Shop
TikTok may be best known for short videos and dance crazes, but it has long been seen as a wellspring of shopping. Whether intended or not.
The New York Times used the phrase “The TikTok Feta Affect,” to describe what happened when Anne Saxelby, the founder and co-owner of Saxelby Cheesemongers, in New York City, created so much demand with her TikTok recipe it create a Feta cheese shortage.
So many products have gone viral on TikTok, there are now brick-and-mortar stores that just sell viral products. There’s Viral Trends NY, which carries omnipresent TikTok stuff like mushroom pillows and decompression cubes, and a store called Salty Passion an Indiana store featuring plenty of knickknacks that are only “seen on social media.” Downtown Manhattan even has its own “TikTok Block,” aka Stanton Street, once the playground of Millennial hipsters, is now best known for several clothing shops opened by TikTok creators.
TikTok Is Already a Shopping Platform
So strong is the combination of shopping and TikTok, a study they conducted in partnership with market researchers, Material found that 67% of their community members say TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so. The same study found that they’re 1.3x more likely to feel euphoric about a purchase they made on TikTok versus other platforms.
TikTok makes shopping cool, makes it fun, and makes it instant. With TikTok, it is easy to sell to current customers, find new customers, and inspire product discovery.
In 2020, TikTok dug into its goal to offer the best global business solutions for sales when it launched the Business Resource Center to provide more resources to the small businesses that were finding success on its platform. There you can get tips and tricks on how to optimize your TikTok account, including for shopping.
For a long time, TikTok’s ability to drive sales had been despite the platform. Users saw a product they liked and manually had to go find the website to buy it.
Now, with TikTok Shopping, those purchases can be completed from within the app itself, changing not just your sales funnel, but your customer’s TikTok shopping experience.
So, What Is TikTok Shopping?
TikTok Shopping is a new feature that allows users to browse and purchase products directly from TikTok videos. Announced in August 2021 and first soft-launched in the UK, TikTok shopping is currently in beta and only available to a limited number of users, but it is expected to roll out more broadly in the near future.
Astute followers of TikTok will note that the platform already offers some level of in-app shopping. Its Hashtag Challenge Plus feature allows brands to sell a product they feature in the hashtag challenge to be purchased directly through TikTok.
Now, you can sell your entire catalog, whether it’s one or two items or over a million.
Who Can Use TikTok Shopping? (You Need a TikTok Business Account)
Anyone can shop on TikTok shopping but not anyone can open a store. To sell on TikTok Shopping, you need to have a TikTok for a business account, which requires you to have 1000 or more followers.
Your TikTok shop integrates with your product catalog on Shopify, Square, Ecwid, and PrestaShop and according to the TikTok website, “expect Wix, SHOPLINE, OpenCart, and BASE to be available soon.”
If you don’t have a compatible eCommerce platform it will be difficult to sell on TikTok Shopping.
Where Can You Find TikTok’s Online Store?
You can find your TikTok shop as a shopping tab on your profile marked by a shopping bag.
TikTok Shopping is also available on both the TikTok app and the TikTok website.
How Does TikTok Shopping Work?
If you’re familiar with Instagram or Facebook shopping, the concept of TikTok shopping is incredibly easy and won’t seem revolutionary.
- The customer is served an ad or organic content featuring a link to the product you are promoting
- They click on the link and are taken to the content in the TikTok shopping tab where they can purchase the product.
- The customer finds your TikTok account on their own, locates the shopping tab, and shops directly from the social media platform.
Your eCommerce partner should have an app or plugin that allows you to upload your catalog directly to your TikTok shop, and all TikTok profiles need a TikTok business account in order to participate.
Seems simple but like all things with TikTok, prepare for TikTok Shopping to be… a little different.
What Marketing Features Come in TikTok Shopping?
TikTok’s content is unlike other platforms so it follows that there will be different bells and whistles. Each of these features eases your sales funnel in new and creative ways and could improve how you approach TikTok for business use.
Put Product Links Directly in Your Videos
Including a link directly in both your paid and organic TikTok video puts your products right at the community’s fingertips. They can now go directly from viewing your content to the shopping tab to purchase without having to leave the platform.
You can create organic content, drop a link into your product, and if you played your cards right, watch it sell out of all your online stores and more.
With so many TikTok users confessing to making spontaneous purchases, the implications couldn’t be greater. The fewer clicks between the viewer and the product, the less of a chance for doubt to steer them off course.
Live Shopping has an uncertain future but let’s dive in anyway. It allows brands to build shopping-enabled live content so you can sell to your most loyal customers or design content to offer product discovery to new audiences…all in real-time. Kind of like QVC or HSN.
However, early reports on this feature are mixed. UK Influencers who used the platform found the work not worth the pay. Keep an eye on this feature as TikTok smooths things out from the Beta launch.
We hope TikTok and the creator community are able to find a way forward because this feature offers great opportunities for just the right brand, especially B2B brands with extensive needs for product demonstration.
Collection Ads let you place product cards in your In-feed ads so when someone taps on an item featured in a card, they get sent to a gallery or product page where the next step is to make a purchase.
Collection Ads can be used to:
Drive traffic to an eCommerce store
Share limited-time offers
Showcase top items
The card helps transform the creative from something to dream about to something they can buy right now.
Dynamic Showcase Ads
Dynamic Showcase Ads (DSA) lets brands automatically advertise thousands of products and personalized video ads. Dynamic Product Ads are a type of social promotion that allows businesses with large product portfolios to advertise on apps and social advertising platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.
TikTok’s Dynamic Showcase Ads (DSAs) are customizable video ads, created in real-time based on an ad template that empowers marketers to promote as many as a million or more SKUs through personalized, targeted ads.
The templates have the same authentic look and feel native to TikTok, allowing you to tap into content popular within the TikTok community such as music, copy, and clips while still feeling highly personalized.
Attention B2B: Lead Generation Ads
Ok, so lead generation technically isn’t something you buy or sell in any store, let alone a social media one. But within its new shopping platform, TikTok is also offering sales tools to marketers with longer leads.
Lead generation TikTok ads allow you to offer easy and secure forms in your in-feed ads for customers to share contact information. Their program integrates with It cuts down manual input by connecting directly with your CRM in real-time. You can use it to promote launches and drum up buzz about new products.
Setting Up A TikTok Shopping Account
For A Successful Tiktok Shop
Before getting started, here are a few tips to get your online store in top order. Start off with some engaging TikToks to draw people to your TikTok Shopping storefront.
Optimize Your Online Store
Your TikTok storefront is located in the shopping tab on your profile. Since that’s where you’ll be directing shoppers, it’s a good idea to optimize your product catalog to align with the platform and the content your customers expect.
Images—Your product photos should resemble the way you market your brand on TikTok and across all other channels.
Copy—TikTok has a 34-character limit for product titles, which can be tricky when uploading from sites like Shopify where there are longer character counts. When reviewing your product listing online, double-check that the titles are at or below the character limit or, they’ll get cut off. Use the description to include as many details as possible, just keep in mind you can’t include links. We didn’t make the rules.
Structure—Organize your products according to popularity. organized based on popularity so your biggest sellers are what people see first.
Partner with TikTok Influencers and Creators
We don’t want to throw too many numbers at you, but the engagement rate for micro-influencers on TikTok stands at 18% compared to platforms like Instagram (3.86%) and YouTube (1.63%). It’s hard to deny that creators and influencers are the keys to TikTok.
Influencers are one of the best advertising options on TikTok for many brands. Companies have partnered with big names on things like makeup tutorials,
A few ways to get started?
Create an affiliate program, offering a commission to creators and influencers in exchange for content.
Make engaging content and sell products in a way that has the ability to go viral and TikTok users will do your work for you.
Reach out to your target influencers and explore ways your brands can work together.
TikTok’s Business Center has a collaboration tool to help that is incredibly easy to help you find creators who fall into your niche market, but if you want help with influencer management, there are agencies that can help.
Hashtag challenges encourage creators to publish unique content around a specific topic. Think dance, meme, and makeup challenges. Users who participate are highly engaged and given the success of the Branded Hashtag feature, it’s a safe bet to harness challenges for direct sales.
Take Advantage of Paid Advertising
Like any store, when it opens, you have to let people know. There are quite a few different ad types on TikTok you can take advantage of, and some are exclusive to “managed brands,” those who work with a TikTok ad sales rep. Collections ads, lead gen ads, and dynamic showcase ads, are available to all TikTok for business accounts and let you use product links.
Other types of TikTok ads for promoting shopping:
Branded Hashtag Challenge
Branded stickers, filters, and special effects
Highlight Your TikTok Feed on Your Website
Let your audience know there are even more creative ways to shop for their favorite items! Besides, embedding TikTok is a great way to showcase your creativity to customers who may not be on the platform.
Include a CTA
As in any sales-driven communication. Let your audience know where they want to go. Make it clear and enticing. Make sure they see your product links.
Speak in TikTok
In other words, don’t become a used car salesman just because someone can purchase the product directly from your post. Be authentic, be funny, and stay on top of the trends.
Small business owners and TikTok creators don’t have to be influencers to help spread the word about your products. They simply have to love the product enough to share it with their account, which you can then re-share.
It works because this content reaches the audience most likely to buy your products plus it intrigues the audience who won’t buy them, creating a full spectrum buzz.
Brands Killing it With TikTok-All Aces
Making it on TikTok is unlike anywhere else. There are many ways it can be done, but you’ll usually find a mixture of tactics that work. A solid campaign. The genuine adoration of influencers and creators. And an approach that meets the audience all the way.
The Campaign: ASOS
ASOS, a trend-leading online fashion retailer, was one of the first to take part in Branded Hashtag Challenge Plus with #AySauceChallenge—wherein they invited the community to “channel their ASOS vibe” by modeling their three best outfits. To get the word out, they use TopView and In-Feed ads and teamed up on creative with several creators.
The results? 1.2 billion video views across the globe in just six days. 176,000 users. 488,000 videos were created. An engagement rate of 15.79%. ASOS later released a Brand Lift Study for the campaign showing it a 25% increase in aided brand awareness, a 10% lift in brand association with the word “trendy,” and a 50% increase in ad recall.
We couldn’t find public metrics on point of sales from the eCommerce store, but engagement results suggest the campaign activated a large segment of their community to pick out a new outfit to show off.
They’ve since had a dress you can wear 18 ways go viral, and gone viral again with a dress you can wear 12 ways. When something works…
The Influence: Vaseline
Vaseline is a great example of the power of influencers, existing trends, and the mindset of authenticity. The petroleum jelly brand that has been around 1870 is killing it on TikTok! Influencers around the globe discovered a South Korea called “slugging” where you cover your face in Vaseline overnight to keep your skin moisturized. Almost overnight, this 19th-century product became a 21st-century sensation.
In one of the most memorable viral moments of 2022, influencer, Brooke Paradise, rubbed her lips with Vaseline and said head-on: “The girls that get it, get it. The girls that don’t, don’t.”
According to the data-driven influencer marketing platform, Traacker reported in the New York Times, Vaseline mentions rose by 46%. The video mentions Vaselines by 93%. And according to Unilever, the owner of Vaseline, they say a year-over-year 327% increase in social media mentions during their viral moment.
The best part for Vaseline is that they didn’t have to do anything. If this all sounds a little like hocus pocus, there’s certainly a little of that, but this same thing is possible for any brand with enough influential fans.
The Bigger Picture: Duo Lingo
Duo Lingo is a digital language learning resource with a TikTok strategy that might seem surprising.
Instead of offering up creative ways to highlight the features and benefits, instead of offering up aspirational visions of life with their product, instead of talking about themselves, they’ve created a channel that publishes a Duo Lingo sitcom that simply entertains—and it has earned them 4.4 million followers, opening them up to completely new audiences.
Global Social Media Manager, Zaria Parvez has said that many of the storylines reflect what they see and hear amongst their fans. For example, memes about how Duo Lingo liked Dua Lipa were worked into one of their storylines.
Parvez also note views decrease when they stray from this formula to talk about their product features. But, Duo Lingo also raised its full-year revenue forecast from up to $342 million to up to $358 million this year. More creativity, more sales.
TikTok Shopping: The Future of Online Stores
Shopping is changing fast. It’s hard to believe that just 20 years ago the primary way people bought products was to physically go into a store. Just 10 years ago, the Amazon craze began to sweep across the country. And today? It’s all about creating a seamless shopping experience directly from social media apps. TikTok has known this for a while and they’re about to level things up with Tiktok shopping. Will you be ready?