TikTok is continuing its push toward making its app a shopping destination by onboarding more brands for its Shop initiative, which lets companies sell their goods directly on the app with a full checkout experience. TikTok began testing Shop in the U.S. this past November, and we now know a few more brands that are part of this initial testing phase.
According to a report from Ad Age, companies including apparel brands like PacSun, Revolve and Willow Boutique as well as beauty brand KimChi Chic are now part of this shopping experiment. Users who want to shop these brands’ products can tap on the shopping bag icon on the brand’s profile to view their catalogs and complete the checkout process without leaving TikTok’s app.
The company confirmed to TechCrunch that TikTok Shop in the U.S. is “still in the testing phase,” as it has been since November, but didn’t provide any information about the timeline for a wider launch.
Although users have been able to purchase products through ads on TikTok for quite some time now, they were previously taken to an in-app browser to make their purchase. With TikTok Shop, the checkout process takes place directly within the app, which makes the experience feel more native and seamless. This is also how Instagram Shop works.
Outside the U.S., TikTok Shop has been available in select markets, including Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore, for nearly a year. Prior reports indicated that TikTok had dropped plans to bring Shop to the U.S. and additional parts of Europe after the venture reportedly struggled to gain traction in the U.K. However, TikTok seems to believe there is a market for Shop in the U.S. given these ongoing tests.
Beyond TikTok Shop, the company has been investing in other shopping features as well. Last March, the app teamed up with Instacart to let food creators make shoppable lists linked to recipe videos. Later in June, it started testing a dedicated shopping feed, which served as a hub for products being sold in TikTok Shop, also in select markets. In addition, it experimented with live shopping in different markets such as the U.K. and several countries in Southeast Asia.
As TikTok continues to work on shopping features, its competitor apps are scaling back on some of their e-commerce efforts. Instagram removed the shop tab in January and announced this month that it is dropping the live shopping efforts. Facebook also shut down its live shopping feature in August 2022. Amazon, meanwhile, experimented with live shopping in various markets. Plus, YouTube last May introduced new live shopping features like allowing two creators to stream together.
However, there is little evidence that these experiments are working to drive significant amounts of online commerce in Western markets as they have in Asia. Reports suggested that in the U.S., social commerce accounts for just 5% of e-commerce sales.
That could be because of cultural differences in how apps are used between markets. But it’s also difficult to track all the shopping conversions that come from being influenced to buy a product in a social space. Some of those e-commerce transactions may not take place immediately using the direct links shared by a brand or creator, in fact. But the video content or brand’s ad may serve to drive a sale at a later date after the consumer sees more digital ads or seeks out the product themselves through a search on Google or Amazon, or through a visit to the retailer’s website.
The phrase “TikTok made me buy it,” has become popular, however, for the video app’s ability to drive impulse sales. The term now has 7.4 billion views on TikTok, in fact, and the hashtag has 42.6 billion. In-app shopping features could not only drive more of those sales, it could make them trackable for brands and businesses, as well.