TikTok is expanding its relationship with Shopify to provide more ways for Shopify merchants to promote their products direct to their audience in the app.
As explained by Shopify:
"Shopify merchants with a TikTok For Business account will soon be able to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles and sync their product catalogues to create a mini-storefront that links directly to their online store for checkout."
So it's not direct, in-stream shopping, as such, with users referred back to the merchant's Shopify store for purchase. But it's another big step in TikTok's broader eCommerce push, facilitating direct product promotion within a dedicated storefront space, which is very similar to Instagram's in-app Shops option.
Which, of course, is also integrated with Shopify, while Shopify has previously established direct connection with TikTok for product promotions, and Pinterest as well. So the real winners, overall, are Shopify merchants, who now have another way to directly promote their products within another social app - but for TikTok, it's another advance that will help it maximize its business potential, and provide more ways for users to more directly monetize their TikTok presence.
Which is a critical next step for the app. Back in the day, Vine withered away because it couldn't work out a viable path to sustainable monetization for short-form video, and if TikTok can't facilitate direct connection between its video clips and revenue for creators, they'll eventually follow the same path as Vine stars and migrate over to YouTube and Instagram instead, where they can make big bucks.
As such, the more that users can attribute TikTok video views to actual purchases made, the better, and while this new addition won't facilitate direct purchases in the app, it will better connect in-app activity to purchase behavior, providing more insight into that performance.
Which is a big, important step, and following on from this, you can expect TikTok to keep adding similar integrations and tools to facilitate direct selling, while also expanding the same to influencer partnerships in order to help the big names of the platform make more money from their clips.
Which is where the Chinese version of TikTok, called 'Douyin', has seen major success, with the majority of its revenue now coming from eCommerce transactions. Indeed, according to reports, Douyin saw e-commerce transactions triple over the last year, reflecting both the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the evolving shift towards online shopping.
If you wanted to get an idea of where TikTok is headed, Douyin is the blueprint, with the lessons it's learning in the Chinese market, where Douyin has 600 million users, then streamlining its approaches in other regions.
Which is also why TikTok has been able to advance so quickly - because for many of its new additions, they're not totally new experiments or tests, as they would be if they were in other start-up apps. TikTok has a solid foundation already, and a solid understanding of what will likely see the best response. Because they already have, in a market with hundreds of millions of users that, in some ways, works as a test pool for TikTok additions.
And as noted, Douyin is well ahead of much of its western competition when it comes to eCommerce. As such, you can expect to see more, similar advances in the near future.
The new Shopify shop tab pilot program is now open to Shopify merchants with a TikTok for Business account in the US and UK, while a select group of Canadian merchants will also be invited to participate in the initial launch. Shopify merchants can request early access to the TikTok Shopping pilot via Shopify’s TikTok channel.