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TikTok and Shopify team up to launch TikTok Shopping

Video now crucial to online selling (Image: Shutterstock)

The first retailers can now sell direct to UK customers on TikTok, through a new Shopify pilot. 

A limited number of retailers are now taking part in a TikTok Shopping pilot via Shopify. Soon all merchants that sell via Shopify will be able to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profile that enables them to sync their product catalogues in order to create a mini-storefront. That, says Shopify, makes it easier for TikTok creators to sell directly to their customers on the social media platform. 

Shopify is also working with TikTok to launch product links that its merchants can use to tag products in organic TikTok posts and send consumers directly to their online store for checkout. From there, shoppers can either buy directly from the merchant’s storefront or click on a tagged product in a TikTok post.

The pilot comes at a time when retailers and content creators are seeing social commerce grow quickly. Shopify says that between February 2020 and February 2021, its social commerce channels were installed 76% more often than in the previous year. And its 2021 Future of Commerce report found that 54% of younger consumers discover brands via social media. Facebook and Instagram already support social commerce, while Twitter last month looked again at social commerce and launched a Shop module in a pilot earlier this summer, six years after its first foray into selling via social. 

Lisa Friedrich, head of SMB at TikTok EMEA, says: “The businesses thriving today innovate to find the best ways to engage with customers, and TikTok has provided brands a creative outlet to authentically do this. As the home of joyful creativity, and with a hugely diverse audience, we are thrilled to expand our partnership with Shopify as it means we can go even further to help support brands on this journey. We hope that this partnership will continue to be a game-changer for Shopify merchants in Europe, helping them to quickly, effectively and accurately connect with our community in the UK.

“We are committed to helping support our platform with innovative shopping solutions, and work towards ensuring these businesses are at the heart of future economic growth.”

The TikTok Shopping pilot is currently being used by Shopify merchants in the US and UK. A select group of merchants in Canada will be added to the pilot in coming weeks, before the feature rolls out more widely. Those selling via Shopify can request early access to the TikTok Shopping pilot.

Shimona Mehta, managing director EMEA at Shopify, says: “We are excited to bring new shopping experiences to one of the world’s most popular social and entertainment platforms. Social commerce has fundamentally changed the way we shop as people now expect to be able to browse and purchase through the platforms where they spend most of their time. The expansion of our partnership with TikTok will mean that our merchants can reach the platform’s hundreds of millions of highly engaged users across the UK.

“By more deeply integrating commerce with TikTok, we will help merchants to reach consumers where they like to shop and help creators and merchants deepen their relationships. We look forward to continuing to push the boundaries together with TikTok as social commerce and the creator economy continue to grow.”

Irish athleisure brand Gym & Coffee, which has UK shops in Belfast, London and Manchester, was involved in the beta testing for the new feature. Diarmuid McSweeney, co-founder and chief marketing and community officer at Gym + Coffee, says: “Since launching in 2017, we’ve seen phenomenal 300% year on year growth and social commerce has played a big role in helping us to achieve that. TT Shopping will enable us to increase brand awareness of Gym+Coffee and engage with our customers on a platform we know they love to use.  The strength of our brand lies in our community and the new storefronts feature will mean we can connect more authentically with both new and existing customers.”

Commenting, Megan Leedy Jones, VP of marketing and partner at January Digital, says: “TikTok and Shopify’s partnership now enables in-app shopping features, like what already exists on Instagram and Facebook. It’s a smart move on TikTok’s behalf, given the opportunity brands have to provide direct commerce channels after a viral social media moment. A recent example is #BamaRush earlier this month, a brand name-dropping trend that garnered visibility for the likes of Kendra Scott and Dolce Vita. 

“This new in-app shopping ability on TikTok is a reminder to brands that if they are looking to connect with particular customer demographics such as Gen-Z, they need to ensure their digital strategy incorporates a social commerce component. These trends showcase that brands cannot possibly create a long-term customer engagement strategy if they are not meeting them on the platform of their choice. Brands who are already capitalising on these capabilities are not thriving by coincidence; they’ve prepared for it and they’ve researched this consumer. And most importantly, they’ve put forth and invested in a strategy that thrives in this sort of environment.”

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