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September 15, 2023

TikTok's new Shop feature lets users buy and sell products directly through the app

The platform is currently flooded with videos featuring shoppable links as the social media company establishes its new e-commerce strategy

Users scrolling through TikTok may be wondering why they're seeing numerous ads woven into the usual videos about puppies, sports or celebrities on their curated For You feeds.

The reason for this stream of sponsored content is that the social media company is launching its TikTok Shop e-commerce platform in the U.S. this weekmaking it easier for users to open their wallets for their favorite creators. 

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TikTok Shop gives brands and creators tools to sell merchandise directly through the TikTok app and puts shoppable videos and livestreams onto users' feeds. 

To buy products from a shoppable video (like this example), users can click the Shop link — located next to an orange shopping cart icon above the caption — and head to the product details page. There, users can select from customizable options before checking out.

tiktok shop appProvided Image/TikTok

The new TikTok Shop feature allows users to click a link on a video and purchase the product shown.

Merchants can also curate and showcase selected products directly on their profile pages and display their products in a new marketplace. On a TikTok profile page, customers can click on a "Shop" link in the bio to access the marketplace. TikTok Shop also allows creators to connect with sellers for commission-based marketing opportunities.

TikTok previously allowed users to sell products through a "storefronts" feature that integrated with existing e-commerce platforms like Shopify. TikTok shut down the storefronts feature in anticipation of the Shop rollout.

The fact that TikTok is breaking away from other e-commerce apps and promoting its own shows how it is looking to become an avenue for entrepreneurs to successfully bring their products to market.

"If TikTok thought that it was just a social media network, with a tiny bit of e-commerce attached to it, you would likely not do something like this," Rick Watson, the CEO and founder of RMW Commerce Consulting, told Insider. "However, if you plan to create a new center of gravity for creators, influencers and entrepreneurs to grow, perhaps one that does not even need Shopify for some time, then an app store is one of the first things that I would do."

While selling products through TikTok may seem like a no-brainer, other apps like Instagram have followed similar strategies with little success. To boost success of the Shop rollout, TikTok is "actively driving" shoppable videos and giving heavy discounts to users who purchase items through the app.

“We have a very aggressive plan to make a splash in the industry and make sure that people out there understand that TikTok is a place for shopping,” Nico Le Bourgeois, an executive overseeing TikTok Shop, told The New York Times. “We’ll be very present for Black Friday and Cyber Monday through a combination of traffic, free shipping and deals.”

Along with the new e-commerce platform, TikTok has partnered with Billboard to launch the TikTok Billboard Top 50 Chart, a weekly chart that ranks the most popular songs on the social media platform in the U.S. TikTok has also begun rolling out its own music streaming service, TikTok Music, to compete with companies like Spotify and Apple Music.

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