Social Commerce: TikTok x Shopify
November 14, 2020

Industry AnalysisSocial Commerce: TikTok x Shopify

Social commerce is evolving beyond China, and it's exciting! TikTok is partnering with Shopify and rivaling Facebook.
    • TikTok has over 100 million highly engaged users in the US alone
    • Social commerce will grow to $253 billion by the end of this year in China, and it’s currently valued at just $20 billion in the US. That’s a lot of room for growth
    • TikTok’s partnership with Shopify in the US is paving the way for smaller businesses – diverting people away from the Walmarts and Amazons of the internet. Currently in the US, TikTok is due to roll out social commerce functionality in Europe and South East Asia in 2021.

Okay, so I’ve wanted to write about this for a couple of weeks but a lot has been happening.

Finally… I hope you’ve seen this already, as the news came out 2 weeks ago. If not, I do promise to keep you updated with everything you should know about the industry here, so here you go:

Remember when I covered TikTok and social commerce in Issue #1 of the newsletter? Well, a lot has happened since then! TikTok is partnering with Shopify! The partnership has already been rolled out in the US, and is due to launch in Europe and South East Asia in 2021. This is big news in the world of social media because it means that TikTok is now rivaling Facebook. TikTok now has over 100 million highly engaged user in the US alone, according to VP of Product at TikTok, Satish Kanwar.

Social commerce is in its infancy in the West

TikTok VP of Global Business Solutions Blake Chandlee has been quoted saying this partnership will help merchants “reach new audiences and drive sales on TikTok”. Social commerce has been massive in China for years now, driven by the likes of WeChat, Pinduoduo and Kuaishou and potentially more platforms. It’s massive with many apps like WeChat having in-built wallets in the apps. eMarketer predicts that social commerce will grow to $253Bn by the end of 2020 in China, while the US market is in its infancy, currently valued at $20Bn. Although TikTok is now attempting to change that.

Competition for Facebook

In May, Facebook launched its Shops platform where brands could have digital storefronts – how appropriate when much of the world is still in lockdown and can’t get to the physical shops! And there has been some “direct to checkout” functionality on Instagram since last year now, and there are no surprises that this functionality has been popular with brands who work with influencers with large followings such as Adidas, Nike, H&M among others.

Empowering D2C

Since so much of the general public use social media as a “discovery” tool these days, there is so much opportunity for social media to really empower and enable the direct-to-consumer model of business. Instead of having to discover a product and then switch to another platform, TikTok and Facebook are taking one step out of the consumption process – reducing friction in the system. This is a good thing in terms of convenience – which people want. Although on the flip side, it’s enabling more consumption, which, in a environmentally conscious epoch is slightly ironic.

How to use TikTok as your sales channel

If you’re based in the US, or you’re waiting for this new social commerce functionality to hit your country these are your next steps:
1. Install the TikTok channel app and create your TikTok for Business account.
2. Then you need to install the one-clock pixel.
3. Once you’ve done this you can deploy your shoppable content in people’s feeds.
4. Use the TikTok ad templates, as these are designed specifically for social commerce.
5. Launch your shoppable social content!

What’s next?

TikTok hasn’t released a full roadmap for what’s next, but word on the street is there’s a plan to make shopping on the app as easy as possible. There’s a (alleged) plan to allow users to proactive browse merchant’s products and shop directly as opposed to via an ad. Shopify has been clear that the decision to partner with TikTok is in an attempt to empower smaller businesses to compete against the Walmarts and Amazons of the world. Based on this motivation, it’s may only be a matter of time before other merchants can partner with TikTok too… After the Shopify exclusive is done that is.
As exciting, and potentially gamechanging as this all is, we’ll have to be patient and wait for TikTok to launch new functionality to a limited group of beta testers prior to mainstream roll out. Standard. Watch this space for updates.

You can read the original Anthro look at social commerce here in the first issue of the Anthro Community newsletter or the full article here.

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