TikTok is shaking up the e-commerce game with its latest experimental feature that could revolutionize the way we shop on the app. As reported by Bloomberg, the popular social media platform is testing a new feature that would make all posts on the app shoppable, in an effort to turn TikTok Shop into a multi-billion dollar e-commerce powerhouse in the United States.
A spokesperson for TikTok has confirmed the limited testing of this new feature, but has not provided any further details at this time.
The new test feature automatically identifies items in videos and directs viewers to “find similar items on TikTok Shop.”
This new feature marks a notable shift from the previous limitations where only approved influencers and brands were able to tag products. With this update, more videos on the app will include e-commerce links, making it easier for users to shop directly from their favorite creators.
The move comes in the wake of a recent Bloomberg report stating that TikTok has set its sights on growing its U.S. TikTok Shop business by tenfold, possibly reaching up to $17.5 billion by the end of this year. If successful, this would not only put TikTok in competition with established e-commerce giants like Amazon, but also fellow Chinese-owned companies Temu and Shein, both of which have gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years.
“TikTok has something these other companies don’t, which is an extremely popular social media network that has the potential to reach millions of buyers.”
During the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping season in November, TikTok Shop saw over 5 million new U.S. customers make purchases through the app. To put that into perspective, TikTok currently boasts around 150 million users in the U.S. alone.
The app’s e-commerce feature, which officially launched in the U.S. back in September 2023, allows creators to tag products in their in-feed and live videos, giving users a seamless shopping experience. However, this latest update means that TikTok Shop links will now be featured in regular content on the app, which may not be welcomed by all users.
New data has revealed that TikTok’s growth has started to slow down, leading to speculation that the e-commerce efforts through TikTok Shop may be to blame. In 2022, the app saw an average 12% year-over-year growth in monthly active users per quarter, but that number dropped to just 3% in 2023. This slowdown coincides with the launch of TikTok Shop in the U.S.
Online debates have sparked over whether or not TikTok Shop has “ruined” the app, with some voicing their frustration that the once entertaining platform has turned into an “ad-filled wasteland.”
In addition to the expanded use of TikTok Shop links in videos on the platform, TikTok is also exploring other ways to boost its e-commerce business. The Information has reported that the company is planning to open studios in Los Angeles where creators can livestream and sell products. Currently, creators record promotional videos from their own setups, but the option to film and broadcast from TikTok-operated studios will soon be available to some.