Everything You Need To Know About TikTok eCommerce

Like many other social media platforms, as TikTok rapidly grows they have been looking at ways to monetise their short form video content platform. A key part of this process will be through eCommerce and allowing users to make in-app purchases.

Despite its rapid growth, TikTok is still young in the world of social media. The platform remains at risk of losing its top creators to more established platforms. Therefore, by creating a stronger monetisation process, they will provide an incentive for creators to use the platform, as opposed to posting their content elsewhere.

TikTok eCommerce background

In April 2021, TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide, with more than 59 million installs.

TikTok claims that 47% of its users have made a purchase as a result of something they have seen on the platform. Therefore, the next logical step for the platform is to provide more promotional opportunities. Bloomberg has reported that “TikTok has begun working with merchants in markets including the UK on ways they can sell products directly to millions of users within the app.”

Last May, Facebook released new tools to improve shopping experience on the platform, as well as photo-sharing app Instagram. Pinterest also edged more into eCommerce by channeling buyers to merchant websites. 

It’s fair to say that, as a new app, TikTok is growing rapidly, but how do they plan on keeping up with their competitors?

TikTik eCommerce features are born…

Recently, TikTok have been trialling new in-app eCommerce features with selected brands and creators.

Since 2019, TikTok has also been working on eCommerce offerings to allow creators ways of making money on the app. Starting with basic shopping links within clips, similar to affiliate marketing links that we are all used to seeing across social media. 

They then moved onto developing in-platform selling tools, like live-stream shopping events and a Shopify integration to display in-stream product ads. Live-stream shopping was experimented with Walmart in 2020, to enable them to authentically engage with their community. According to WARC data, live-streaming commerce in China is expected to more than double this year to $171 billion. As social media trends normally come from trends within the Chinese market, live-streaming seems like a logical option for the app.

TikTok have also teased new ‘Promo tiles’ and ‘Showcase tiles’. Promo tiles will allow businesses using the platform to overlay customised promotional alerts or messaging over their videos. Whereas showcase tiles will allow creators to promote products directly in their video uploads.

As well as these new features, brands can create, measure and optimise their ads themselves; therefore giving them full control over their budget and strategy.

Currently, we don’t known when these features will be formally launched and available to the masses. TikTok has commented on this saying “ We will provide updates as we explore these important avenues for our community of users, creators and brands”… so, watch this space!

Benefits of TikTok eCommerce

As a new platform, creators are likely to show more interest in understanding the effectiveness of the new TikTok ads. Let’s look at the key strengths that we have seen so far in a Kantar and TikTok study.

Ads on TikTok inspire users

72% of respondents from the study perceive TikTok ads to be inspiring.

For brands who choose to utilise the app, it shows that content specifically made for this channel can really appeal to the audience. Natural and engaging content which shows a product in action can produce strong positive responses via promotions. 

When TikTok users are scrolling through the ‘For You’ feed, they are in a discovery mindset and are receptive to new and inspirational content.

Trendsetting sets ads apart

Almost 7 out of 10 people in the study agreed that compared to other ads, those on TikTik were more ‘trendsetting’. 

Innovative ad formats such as the Branded Hashtag Challenge provide brands with tools to enable their audiences to create trends. Based on branded sounds, actions, effects or storylines these trends can travel freely across the platform’s community and beyond.

Ads are enjoyable and optimistic

Many TikTok users spend time on the app to find uplifting content. Content is easy to absorb and the algorithm helps to show users more of what they engage with.

TikTok ads are natively embedded into the user experience, therefore they benefit from a positive and authentic experience.

Capturing attention

67% of the participants agreed that ads seen on TikTok captured their attention. This was 10% more when compared to ads on other platforms. 

The format of TikTok lends itself to video ads; with a vertical, full-screen format, users are focusing fully on one video at a time. It’s also easy to mistake an ad for a normal piece of content as the format and style of the ads is very authentic in comparison to other advertising methods.

Ads have a ‘halo effect’

The study found that TikTok has an average of 10% better ad receptivity when compared to other tested platforms.

Additionally, many of the ad attributes tested were consistent with the way in which TikTok as a platform was perceived. This is positive for brands who choose to use the platform to promote products. It seems that people perceive these ads to be authentic and native part of the community and app experience.

Compared to other platforms where ads are quite invasive, it’s positive to know that ads aren’t really perceived as annoying or intrusive. Instead, the ads are generally positively received.

Rounding up…

TikTok has seen immense growth and success in building a huge community on the platform. That said, it’s still in the early stages of providing creators and brands ways to monetise the platform.

The shift towards eCommerce makes perfect sense for the platform. We’ve seen some previews and insights within the area of TikTok eCommerce. From what we’ve seen, it looks like the platform will be providing a comparable monetisation model. This should help to prevent top users and brands from switching over to alternative platforms.

With new eCommerce features, it will open up a huge range of opportunities. This provides new and exciting ways for brands to connect with and promote products to engaged users of the app. 

Given the right products or services, we see this as a huge opportunity for marketers. So, let’s see how things unfold and what implications it may have as these new features develop over time.

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