TikTok Plans to Enter E-Commerce Business in 2021 with Livestream Shopping

As of Feb.8, Chinese video-sharing social networking app TikTok was reportedly planning to enter the e-commerce business in 2021, according to the Financial Times.

According to people familiar with the matter, TikTok has briefed advertisers on several new features they will launch in 2021, including a tool to let TikTok influencers share product links and automatically earn commissions on sales. This will allow popular users to link to any products they enjoy, without needing to be formally sponsored by the brand.

Following a partnership with Walmart to test run live-streamed shopping last year, Tik Tok aims to offer brands a platform to showcase their product catalogs. Basically, this feature might become a mobile version of TV shopping hosted by TikTok stars.

Last week, TikTok announced its first major deal with the advertising agency WPP, granting the London-based firm early access to its latest ad features.

“Culturally, TikTok is well placed for livestreamed commerce to capture the dissolving distinction between content and commerce because it doesn’t feel as polished as other platforms,” said Jack Smyth, creative technology officer at WPP.

Source: Walmart

Under former president Donald Trump’s administration, TikTok faced a series of problems in the States. Though the Biden administration has not revealed its take on TikTok’s woes, many advertisers seem more relaxed about the app.

“The latest changes in the political leadership in the U.S. has clients more comfortable in the platform,” said Kris Hoet, global chief innovation officer at ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding. He was echoed by Karyn Spencer, chief marketing officer at influencer marketing group Whalar, according to whom: “With TikTok, you are looking at campaigns in the billions [of views]. Most of the time on other platforms . . . the campaigns are in the millions.”

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Last October, TikTok partnered with e-commerce platform Shopify to explore in-app shopping features and allow Shopify to reach TikTok’s younger audience and drive sales. This will likely further the firm’s competition with social media giants Facebook and Twitter.

According to sources quoted by the Financial Times, the company said that 40% of people on TikTok do not have a Facebook account and that 63% are not on Twitter.