TikTok Ecommerce: What You Need to Know Today

TikTok Ecommerce: What You Need to Know Today

A discussion of TikTok would not truly be complete without a look into the way the social media platform makes ecommerce possible. Although TikTok is certainly no stranger to children and teenagers, using TikTok for business is also a commonplace practice, whether through an affiliate program, or by reaching a company or brand directly through a Shopify integration. What do you need to know to make sure social commerce will work in your favor using TikTok? I have put together the most important considerations to take into account when using TikTok Shop or affiliate marketing on the platform to boost sales and support ecommerce. 

TikTok Ecommerce Explained

YouTube video

First, let’s take a closer look at TikTok as a platform, and how TikTok for business typically works. TikTok is a short-form video platform. The platform boasts over a billion active users around the world, and has begun a shopping integration that allows businesses and brands to leverage their social presence to support sales. TikTok ecommerce, in particular, allows business users to sell products and services directly to users. 

TikTok’s audience continues to grow and remains engaged and youthful, making it an ideal social commerce platform. Using TikTok for business is wise not only through affiliate marketing, but also through the product links used through TikTok Shop. TikTok ecommerce is continuing to grow in popularity, as more brands use TikTok for business, and shoppable videos become increasingly preferred and utilized by audiences. 

Benefits of Using TikTok Ecommerce

There are countless ecommerce platforms out there on which to place your product catalog–why choose TikTok Shop? TikTok is rife with users, a significant portion of them Gen Z and millennials. This means that the platform has a truly massive audience of potential customers, while offering a seamless shopping experience that is likely to appeal to users who are accustomed to being able to simply click on shoppable links or browse a shopping tab within the platform. 

Videos are powerful tools to showcase products and services in a way that is engaging and captivating. Whether video content is simple, showing how to use a product, or more integrated, showing a product seamlessly flowing into someone’s routine, video content can easily form the basis of a brand’s ecommerce strategy with great results. TikTok’s unique algorithms can also come into play here; while the social shopping platform could result in the next viral video, this type of mass exposure is not necessary. TikTok algorithms target specific demographics and interests, making it easier to garner the attention of your desired audience. 

User-generated content and influencer marketing can also contribute to TikTok commerce, while building brand awareness and establishing credibility. Because TokTok is first and foremost a user-generated platform, a TikTok store can benefit from product discovery tied to an existing profile or an established influencer. The viral potential of TikTok can also be leveraged through TikTok Shop and influencer marketing and user-generated content, as even a short video with an influencer’s favorite products can result in a veritable explosion of interest and exposure from one day to the next. 

How to Get Started with TikTok Ecommerce

These are the foundational basics you should be doing to get set up right for TikTok ecommerce:

1. Create a TikTok Business Account

Make sure your profile is optimized for ecommerce. TikTok for ecommerce will look a little bit different than the profiles and set ups of your favorite creators–or those of your audience–because the goal will be on making use of viral hashtags, popular hashtags, and content to reach your niche audience for the purpose of promoting purchases. 

2. Develop Your Content Strategy.

Advertising campaigns look different across demographics and intentions, so make sure your strategy aligns with your target audience and brand identity. Leaping onto every new hashtag challenge or viral audio clip can be useful, but it can also be detrimental if it is not successfully linked back to your brand. 

3. Invest in TikTok Ads

TikTok’s advertising tools can help you reach a wider audience and drive traffic to your website or online store, so take the time to familiarize yourself with the available tools on the platform. Templates and editing tools intended for marketing are two of the offerings provided directly by TikTok, as well as a management platform from which to monitor, change, and target your TikTok ads. 

Further Reading: TikTok Ads Guide: 7 Steps to Get Started (and 6 Opportunities You Don’t Want to Miss Out On)

4. Collaborate

Influencer collaborations are also valuable marketing avenues, in order to effectively promote your products and services to a whole new audience. One of the key reasons influencer marketing is so effective is the trust built between influencers and their audiences. When a product or service is promoted by an influencer, it is capitalizing on an existing trust-based relationship, without having to do the additional work of building that brand trust from scratch. 

5. Don’t Forget to Be Social

Finally, make sure you respond to comments and messages and continually engage with your audience to build and maintain relationships. One of the most significant ways to stand out is to make sure your customers or potential customers feel seen and heard. Simply producing shoppable content isn’t enough, nor is developing affiliate links for your influencer collaborations; instead, you are working to create a connection, and continue to support that connection to create a sense of loyalty from current and incoming customers. 

Further Reading: 10 Ways to Leverage Social Media in eCommerce

What is the TikTok Shop?

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The TikTok shop is an addition to the app that allows you to buy services and products through videos that have links directly to the product in question–all without leaving the app. Creators and brands can tag products in their videos, which allows viewers to both shop and check out the products they see in the organic content produced by content creators and the targeted content produced by brands. Video ads are notoriously effective, and combining advertisements with the social media giant that is TikTok can further push advertising campaigns to the next level. TikTok shop is one of the many ways that next level is reached. 

TikTok launched its shopping feature in the US in 2023. Through this update to the platform, brands and merchants were given the ability to create “shoppable” videos, which allow users to tap on products to view details on the item in question, and actually purchase items in-app. 

TikTok Ecommerce Success Stories

TkTok is not merely promoting its shop abilities without some evidence to back up their claims; instead, several instances of success through TikTok Shop have been recorded and looked into, to demonstrate the value of using TikTok as a source of ecommerce. I have highlighted some of the most significant success stories below. 

Sugar Island Clothing

Grew its online sales significantly through viral TikTok videos promoting its clothing line. [1] 

Sugar Island Clothing wanted to increase sales directly through the TikTok app, and started a campaign using Video Shopping Ads. At the conclusion of Sugar Island’s shopping ads campaign, which took advantage of popular hashtags, Sugar Island Clothing reported strong numbers, including over 1,000 new followers, more than 1.3 thousand in completed sales, and a CTR of 3.57%. 

Brand Pierre

@brandpierre

Shout out Texas Roadhouse for the newest addition to my personal ring collection. #brandpierre #spoonring #handmaderings

♬ original sound – BRAND PIERRE

Known as “One spoon changed his life”, saw huge success by promoting his wooden spoon carvings on TikTok which drove more traffic to his ecommerce site. [2]

Brand Pierre went from engaging in a hobby, to bringing in over 1 million dollars. Brand Pierre uses TikTok in the way it is best used: by keeping on top of trends, creating engaging content (including videos in which he hides his rings and encourages followers to find them), and consistently being available to his audience, with rings available for purchase, he has leveraged TikTok to build himself a well-functioning and successful business. 

Shein

@shein_official

GRWM: Pinterest Girl Edition! 👯✨ Proof that warm & chic go wonderfully hand in hand 🤝 @sweetinstabella #SHEINstyle #SHEINhaul #ootd #fashion #chic #fyp

♬ original sound – SHEIN

A major clothing brand, utilized TikTok effectively to boost its ecommerce business through viral content on the platform. [3]

Shein is arguably one of the greatest success stories currently using TikTok as an ecommerce platform. Shein has successfully leveraged trends, influencer marketing practices, and TikTok shopping to bring in greater numbers of sales, followers, and a thriving and robust system in which trendy clothing is churned out ad nauseam, without a pause and with coupon codes, influencer marketing, and viral videos being released in a steady stream. 

5 Tips for TikTok Ecommerce Success

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TikTok ecommerce is on the rise, as the information above can attest. Implementing a new strategy using TikTok Shop, however, may not be as straightforward as simply throwing your product links up on the platform and calling it a day. I have put together 5 of my best tips to support TikTok ecommerce success to make sure your TikTok Shop links are a success, and you enjoy the full potential of the platform.

Further Reading: The 5 Most Powerful Ecommerce Digital Marketing Strategies 

1. Utilize high-quality visuals and captivating captions to grab attention

Although TikTok is a highly accessible app, in that virtually anyone with a smartphone can begin posting videos, quality matters when it comes to matters of business. Employ professional tools, or hire a photographer with professional equipment to ensure image quality and crisp professionalism in your images and videos. 

Once you have made sure that your tools are professional-level tools, make sure you combine visuals with compelling storytelling to create a narrative that captures your audience’s interest. From captions to video concepts and more, consider why you are creating each video–know its precise purpose, and how you intend to go about achieving that purpose. Storytelling is half of the battle, here, as throwaway videos are forgettable. Storytelling keeps your audience interested and coming back for more. 

Finally, make sure you maintain attention by creating highly engaging content. Action-oriented language in captions is an effective way to drive user engagement; if you were to post a video with the caption “Busily packing your orders!” and nothing more, the video is static and easily consumed and scrolled past. If, however, you post with the caption, “Busily packing your orders! Who’s eagerly waiting on their package today?” you invite your audience to engage and interact. 

Further Reading: Trending Techniques: Staying Ahead of the Curve in Ecommerce Photography

2. Incorporate relevant hashtags to reach a wider audience

Prior to posting, conduct hashtag research to determine what your target audience is interested in and following. Strike a balance between niche hashtags, identifying key words and phrases within your industry, and popular hashtags that keep you in the loop with the most recent trends. By balancing both, you will be able to broaden your reach and maintain relevance in your industry and on TikTok. 

Once you have posted, however, the work is not quite done. After you have selected your hashtags and posted, monitor your hashtag performance and adapt your strategy as necessary. Some hashtags will not draw in the audience you want, so if you find that your block of hashtags are not drawing in as many new followers or hits as you’d hoped, adjust to include different hashtags within your niche or select popular hashtags that more closely relate to your standard content. 

Further Reading: TikTok Hashtags: Where to Find and How to Use to Grow Your TikTok

3. Post consistently and at optimal times to maximize visibility

TikTok analytics are important measures to evaluate, as they can let you know when and how to post. Analytics tools can determine when your audience is most active. Try to post within that window, as it is more likely your audience will actually lay eyes on your content. It is not always possible to hop on to a social site to post during your audience’s busy times (if your audience is more likely to be up and scrolling during the night, for instance or on days you are not available to create content), so create a backlog of content that you can upload to prevent having gaps in your posting schedule. Consistency is king among virtually all social media platforms, and TikTok is no exception. 

To take your posting schedule one step further, automate your posts by selecting tools that align with TikTok’s API. Before selecting your scheduling tool, do your research and determine how compatible it is with TikTok’s unique structure, and internal framework. Many social tools claim to work indiscriminately across all platforms, but this is often not the case, so verify compatibility and measure success according to your metrics and goals. 

4. Analyze your performance and refine your strategies based on data

You have to start somewhere, and your initial efforts may not be as thoroughly backed by data, due to a lack of posts with measurable analytics. As you go on, however, set measurable goals and use the insights embedded within the platform to determine which strategies yield the best return on investment. Your highest-performing videos can be analyzed and gone over with a fine-toothed comb to determine what drives its performance. 

After you have established what seems to be driving your highest-performing posts, pivot and incorporate those practices into your posts. Analytic trends will help identify the best route forward, as will consumer feedback. There is likely no shortage of consumers willing to tell you precisely what you are and are not doing right, so make sure you take those thoughts into account and bring those into your strategies. 

Further Reading: 17 Best TikTok Management Apps for Scheduling, Analytics & Much More!

TikTok is an ever-evolving machine, and updates its practices and algorithms on what is suspected to be a high turnaround rate. Following TikTok-focused marketing blogs and influencers can help you stay abreast of any changes made to TikTok–including any changes that will significantly impact the success of your performance. 

Apart from research through blogs and articles, make sure you are staying on top of TikTok trends by participating in new challenges and taking advantage of new features. Remaining relevant is the lifeblood of TikTok performance, as it is the most significant factor driving viewership and engagement. As you see new trends, challenges, audio clips, and ideas pop up, incorporate them into your own posts. 

Finally, attend webinars, trainings, and talks to continuously improve your TikTok marketing skills and to make sure you understand any and all changes being made to the app. Again, because TikTok is such a dynamic entity, remaining relevant and up to date may require a bit more effort and intention than you may be accustomed to with other social sites. 

Conclusion

TikTok’s entry into ecommerce is a game-changer for many companies looking to maximize their sales and growth on the platform. Shoppable videos make TikTok an excellent addition to your overall social media lineup and the ability to engage in social commerce makes using TikTok for business a unique business opportunity with enormous potential for payoff. That being said, the highly changeable nature of TikTok comes with its own set of challenges and requirements to remain relevant. using the steps and tools I have outlined above, you can feel confident and comfortable navigating TikTok for your business. 

Do you feel comfortable using TikTok for business? Let me know in the comments! 

Hero Photo by Jordan González on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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2 Comments

  1. Recently I read so many articles about this TikTok ecommerce. But your article is so good. You add more details here. You deserved thank you.

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