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EDITORIAL TikTok live shopping cements the rise of mobile – and will hit the high street hard

Image: AdobeStock

Image: AdobeStock

TikTok is leveraging its 1 billion-plus viewers this week with a live streamed shopping and entertainment event that aims to catapult the social site into the heart of Gen Z ecommerce.

Building on previous forays into online selling, the social media platform is going all out to bring together its huge user base, its creators, brands and celebs to create what it sees as a new and unique way for people to shop.

Social commerce has garnered increasing interest over the past three years and has really started to take shape during lockdown, with a raft of younger users who traditionally looked to sites like TikTok for entertainment now also seeing them as a way to shop.

The power that social sites wield is enormous: they are packed full of influencers and provide the perfect platform for new, more subtle ways for brands to market to younger shoppers.

This is exactly where TikTok sees its opportunity. With its top creators joining established artists, musicians and entertainers in the social site’s latest live stream, it is perfectly blending all the things it does so well and delivering it up to the brands and retailers that are getting involved. All TikTok has to do is sit back and take its cut.

This stealth approach to creating social commerce by the back door is canny. Where Facebook went all out with a shop and Instagram took the middle ground of taking its retailer stories and linking them to check out pages, TikTok is very much opting to be much more subtle. For TikTok ecommerce is being dressed up as just another fun and entertaining thing that you can do while you are on TikTok.

Watch the funny dance and product demo and, hey, you want to buy it? Just click here. This is ecommerce as entertainment and is a canny move from TikTok.

The social site is also striking at just the right time. It has taken it 5.1 years to hit 1 billion viewers, just shy of the 4.9 years it took Facebook messenger, and making it perhaps the most successful social media site of all time.

As it has grown and evolved, so it has attracted – and more importantly retained – users. Adding ecommerce now cements that. It is also likely to attract even more users, particularly in older segments of the market as it becomes a new way to shop.

This is also likely to attract more brands to sell through the site as this growth continues. A win-win-win for TikTok.

It also continues to press the case for ecommerce becoming increasingly mobile in nature. The move certainly chimes with what the Black Friday numbers are showing, with mobile now dominating in terms of both retail traffic and sales. According to research, 67% of traffic and 53% of ecommerce sales came through mobile, albeit of a shrinking total volume of both, with ecommerce traffic dropping 7% this year.

The data, from Nosto, also points out that the biggest growth sectors were fashion and health & beauty, each growing by 12 and 7% respectively – sadly at the expense of food and beverage.

But be warned, says a logistics study: paying for delivery and overly complicated and costly returns policies are starting to put off shoppers from buying clothing online.

This surge in sales of fashion and beauty is also being seen in the wider retail world, with beauty shoppers buying more than ever this peak. However, data suggests that many of them are increasingly looking to ‘try and buy’ in stores – with 25% claiming to have made bad purchase decisions online that they now regret.

This shift to the high street among beauty shoppers is at odds with all other shoppers, however, with a separate study showing that more than half of consumers now believe that stores are less important, with the ‘Amazon experience’ making more people choose to shop online.

With TikTok starting to ramp up socoal commerce, one can only wonder if 2022 isn’t going to see yet more changes the high street. TikShop outlet store and live music venue anyone?

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