TikTok really wants to make in-stream shopping a thing, following the success of its shopping initiatives in China, which have become the key revenue driver for local version of the app.
And while Western audiences have yet to warm to TikTok shopping, the platform’s not giving up just yet, launching a new push with a range of sellers designed to boost shopping take-up in the app.
As reported by Insider, TikTok’s currently inviting selected retailers to join its in-app shopping push, offering them big subsidies on shipping and sales to help maximize interest.
As per Insider:
“In recent weeks, TikTok has invited new US sellers to create shops on its app and promote their goods via clickable links in videos and livestreams. It's also incentivized influencers to push items in videos by offering sales commissions in a new affiliate-marketing program. As it looks to bring on new stores and encourage TikTok users to purchase through its app, the company is fronting the cost of free shipping and discount coupons.”
That could work – TikTok’s recently seen big success in boosting its new app Lemon8 in several markets by enlisting TikTok influencers to promote the more product-focused platform.
Lemon8 was downloaded over 650,000 times in the US over the last week and half, which saw it reach the top 10 in the ‘Lifestyle’ category. That shows the level of influence that TikTok can have on interest and usage trends, which bodes well for this new shopping push in the app.
Though as noted, thus far, western audiences haven’t shown much interest in live-stream shopping, which has been the big winner for Douyin, the Chinese version of the app.
Douyin reported a 320% increase in eCommerce sales last year, largely driven by surging demand in live-stream shopping. The Chinese live shopping economy is projected to be worth more than $500 billion in 2023, which would equate to around half of all US eCommerce activity.
These are the types of figures that have sparked massive interest in in-stream shopping in virtually every social app over the past two years. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest – almost every app tried out some form of in-stream shopping on the back of the COVID lockdowns, which many viewed as a key bridge to the next stage of online spending.
But then, once physical stores re-opened, sales trends normalized, and most people went back to their regular habits, rather than sticking with online buying. That’s since seen most apps scale back their eCommerce efforts – but for TikTok, it really wants this to work, both as a new paradigm, from which it can glean maximal benefit, and as a means to get its top creators paid, by providing them with a means to make money from their in-app presence.
That, seemingly, is what Lemon8 is about. Lemon8 enables influencers to showcase products, from which they can then earn affiliate commissions. This new push on in-stream shopping, by incentivizing sellers, is another element, which could help to make it a more habitual, commonplace behavior, expanding TikTok’s business horizons.
It still has a way to go, but maybe, by shifting usage behaviors, TikTok can still make its in-stream sales a thing, which would open up many more monetization opportunities for the app.
That is, of course, if it’s not banned first. That’s still a significant possibility, but barring that outcome, eCommerce remains a key focus for the app.