Social Mixer 2024 Singapore
TikTok pivots to social commerce with dedicated shopping tab: A risky move?

TikTok pivots to social commerce with dedicated shopping tab: A risky move?

share on

Video-sharing platform TikTok recently redesigned its interface to include a dedicated TikTok Shop tab feature that takes users straight to its shopping portal with just one touch. Prior to this, TikTok Shop had to be accessed through a link included in videos that usually promoted a single product.

Depicted by the shopping bag icon, the new shop tab opens up to a shopping interface where users can directly access anything related to their shopping activities. This includes browsing through showcased products, viewing orders, accessing their shopping cart, setting address and payment methods and chatting with merchants.

The redesign offers a convenient and streamlined experience for online shoppers while also fostering deeper engagement with merchants. In doing so, TikTok Shop also created a space for its community of sellers, merchants and creators to learn from each other, discover and promote their products within the TikTok ecosystem.

Don't miss: Bill that could potentially ban TikTok in US passed: Will Meta be the ultimate winner?

In addition, the products highlighted are presented according to a user's habits and interests while using the app. This creates an even more pleasurable and convenient experience for buyers while generating high demand among merchants with products that suit their customers' profiles, said TikTok in a blogpost.

Balancing commerce and social engagement

However, with its ‘Discover’ tab now gone, will TikTok’s focus on its social commerce features detract its users who know the app for its viral content and challenges?

The answer it seems, lies in its ability to ensure continuous commitment to fostering community engagement, according to Kimberley Olsen, co-founder of Yatta Workshop.

“The platform adeptly compensates for the absence of the ‘Discovery’ tab with alternative exploration tools such as hashtags, search functionality, and personalised content on the ‘Home’ tab,” said Olsen. Adding:

The essence of TikTok Shop's success lies in a dynamic, reactive strategy that harnesses incentive-based models and taps into the phenomenon of 'impulse buying'

With its dedicated TikTok Shop button, TikTok is poised to be a formidable eCommerce platform competitor due to its rich data on how users interact with the app.

“Armed with data on user engagement and the prowess to push relevant products through sponsored ads and live sessions tailored to users' interests, TikTok adeptly curates sales-driven content that resonates with its audience,” added Olsen.

Agreeing with her, Matthew Zeng, managing director and head of strategy at DSTNCT added that TikTok’s move into eCommerce will not only diversify its revenue stream from a business standpoint, but is a big stride towards becoming an everyday superapp that offers a one-stop integrated platform. He added:

Social media and eCommerce have always gone hand-in-hand because it's all about occupying the most important estate in the world today - your phone.

He added that while previously, TikTok's goal was to connect audiences with new content creators, now TikTok can also connect you with new brands and products.

“That's an extremely powerful value proposition,” he said.

As other eCommerce marketplaces lack the social element TikTok has, making the TikTok Shop tab more prominent will no doubt change consumer behaviour and encourage users to use the app more consistently and frequently.

“To me, whether it will cause a more permanent change and create a recurrent habit lies in the quality of merchants it is able to bring on board and its algorithms to match brands and products to your interests. But as we've seen time and time again, TikTok is a master of that,” said Zeng.

The historical trouble with social commerce

However, not everyone is as certain that this might be a good move for the platform.

Shermaine Lau, head of Havas Market for example, is more sceptical about TikTok’s focused efforts on TikTok Shop as social media platforms have historically faced challenges in the seamless integration of commerce into social engagement.

“While Facebook Marketplace thrives on independent sellers, Instagram's recent removal of its homepage shopping tab highlights the difficulties in sustaining user engagement with shopping features,” she said. Adding:

While customers traditionally turn to marketplaces such as Lazada and Shopee for their shopping needs, TikTok users are drawn to trending content and virality.

She added that this dynamic makes product forecasting, channel strategy, and competitive benchmarks challenging for key brands navigating the TikTok landscape.

Saying that, TikTok has been consistently growing awareness for its TikTok Shop feature and even appointed global brand and customer experience agency VMLY&R to handle TikTok Shop’s major multimarket push around the year’s biggest online shopping days in December last year.

The 'shoppertainment' campaigns aim to position TikTok Shop as the go-to shopping destination for Southeast Asia's Gen Z consumers aged 18 to 34, and to drive purchases on the TikTok app.

However, Lau expects advertisers to approach TikTok’s shopping tab more cautiously despite its promising potential, saying:

“Establishing a new storefront demands resources, and advertisers will likely observe TikTok's capacity to generate significant sales in comparison to established platforms before fully embracing this feature."

To circumvent advertiser doubts and cement TikTok Shop as a go-to place for eCommerce shoppers, the platform must attract major brands that consumers are familiar with, she said.

“To ensure long-term commercial success, TikTok must attract brands that cultivate repeat customers rather than relying solely on one-time viral video trends from lesser-known companies,” added Lau.

Join us this coming 24 - 25 April for #Content360, a two-day extravaganza centered around four core thematic pillars: Explore with AI; Insight-powered strategies; Content as an experience; and Embrace the future. Immerse yourself in learning to curate content with creativity, critical thinking, and confidence with us at Content360!

Related articles:
This new feature will make all TikTok videos shoppable
3 ways marketers can build connections on TikTok in 2024

What are Singaporeans making of the questioning of TikTok CEO?

share on

Follow us on our Telegram channel for the latest updates in the marketing and advertising scene.

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top marketing stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's marketing development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window