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Shopifying TikTok - new opportunities in social commerce

TikTok partners with Shopify to enter the world of e-Commerce and offer a seamless shopping experience to businesses and customers alike. Find out how this affects your brand’s opportunities, and whether it poses a threat for your IP-rights.

There’s a new player in e-Commerce: TikTok. Following rivals like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, the video sharing giant from China is entering social commerce, the “little brother” of e-Commerce where buying and selling occurs via social media networks.

What is TikTok

A relative newcomer among social networking sites, the first incarnation of TikTok, Douyin was launched in 2016 in China by the company ByteDance. After acquiring its rival Musical.ly, the brand name TikTok was born and introduced to the world in 2018 (in China the app is still known as Douyin).

The app allows users to create and share short-form videos. The most popular genres on the platform are comedy, musical, entertainment and infotainment.

Screenshot of Khaby Lame, one of the most popular content creators on tiktok.com
Screenshot of Khaby Lame, one of the most popular content creators on tiktok.com

In the past few years, TikTok rose to massive popularity, especially among younger users. About 32% of TikTokers are aged between 10 and 19, while 29% of them are in the 20-29 age bracket, and 16% and 14% are in the 30-39 and 40-49 age groups respectively.

Pie chart of percentage of TikTok users in the US by age
Pie chart of percentage of TikTok users in the US by age

Currently, the app has over 1 billion monthly users, 130 million of those from the US, despite the controversies surrounding the platform there. TikTok is valued at $400 billion and counting.

Problems with the platform

Several countries, including India, Bangladesh and Indonesia have issued temporary or lasting bans on TikTok due to data privacy concerns and/or the nature of content available on the site.

The previous US administration also issued orders aimed at banning TikTok in the country, claiming that China uses the platform to spy on US-based TikTokers. However, the current administration has no such concerns and talks on Oracle buying a 20% share in the company to cover the US market are stalled.

e-Commerce on TikTok

The platform is not entirely new to the world of e-Commerce. Brands and sellers have already been able to post ads on the platform via TikTok for Business.

Screenshot of business-tiktok.com
Screenshot of business-tiktok.com

Now, however, the video-sharing giant takes it one step further to introduce in-app shopping to its users.

The concept is not new: other video-sharing apps like YouTube and Ritzi have already dabbled in social commerce and live-stream shopping. What makes TikTok’s entry to this market remarkable is its business partner, Shopify.

TikTok + Shopify

Bridging the gap between ads and actual shopping seemed to be the next logical step for TikTok when it decided to widen its e-Commerce-related services. Shopify, a Canadian e-Commerce company that invites businesses to create compelling online storefronts, turned out to be a great fit for the video sharing app’s business model.

Connecting your Shopify store to your TikTok business account allows you to offer a seamless shopping experience to customers. Businesses in the US, UK and Canada can already add a shopping button on their TikTok profiles that creates a mini-shopfront and synchronizes their product catalog. For the actual checkout process, customers are led to the business’ storefront on Shopify.

Businesses participating in the program have already expressed positive feedback. For example, as Kylie Jenner, owner of Kylie Cosmetics explained, “I built my business on social media; it’s where my fans go first to look for what’s new from Kylie Cosmetics. I have so much fun creating TikTok videos, and I love sharing posts of my fans using the products. That’s why I’m excited for Kylie Cosmetics to be one of the first to let customers shop directly on our TikTok!”

The move helps businesses already active on TikTok or Shopify. Integrating and synchronizing their stores and presence on any of these platforms is much easier than creating one from scratch, which saves a lot of time and resources.

Screenshot of the Shopify x TikTok page on news.shopify.com promoting their cooperation
Screenshot of the Shopify x TikTok page on news.shopify.com promoting their cooperation

However, TikTok doesn’t want to stop here. Based on data gathered since the Shopify partnership launch in August 2021, the video sharing app claims that its users are 1.7 times more likely to make a purchase via TikTok than those of its competitors.

TikTok wants to further broaden its services for businesses, including offering live-streaming sessions, an API to integrate product catalogs into their content, more versatile ad products on the platform, and even shipping, point-of-purchase and fulfillment.

These plans currently affect only certain parts of the world, mostly the US and Canada. How these services will be rolled out to the rest of the world is currently unknown.

And what about online brand protection?

No opportunities come without threats, and nobody knows this better than online brand protection experts. Or rather, opportunities for honest sellers are - usually - just as beneficial for less honest ones as well.

Take a look at social media platforms like TikTok, for instance. Posting an image rarely takes more than a second - and stealing one is even less time-consuming. This is why IP-infringements on social media pose such a serious threat for brands.

With just a few clicks, any user can take your brand imagery and use it as their own - stealing your profit, your customers and your reputation.

Into this already murky ground comes Shopify, a platform with its own IP-risks. As we pointed out earlier, Shopify lets sellers (honest and dishonest ones alike) create very attractive webshops.

Gone are the times when customers could identify fake shops at a single glance: if it looks fake, it most likely is fake. Well, now all Shopify shops look equally beautiful, whether they sell $1,000 bags by Gucci or $10 ones by Guccy.

But this doesn’t mean your brand has to shy away from opportunities. Especially since whatever you do, fraudsters will definitely not shy away from them and misuse your IP-rights if it serves their purposes.

Instead, let globaleyez set up a comprehensive online brand protection program for your brand. Our highly scalable services can be tailored to fit your brand’s exact needs. We find and eliminate fraudulent content that infringes on your IP-rights on social media, online and physical marketplaces, or even the internet in general.

Contact us and discover all the advantages of brand protection as offered by globaleyez.

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