‘Social Commerce’ is slowly but surely taking hold in the western retail world, combining the most addictive elements of social media with the efficiency of ecommerce.
the latest shopping trend popularised by Chinese tech giants which is rapidly sweeping the western retail world, was estimated to be worth around $60 billion in 2020.
The term is used to describe social media platforms that integrate shopping capabilities into their platforms. According to researchandmarketing.com, the “social commerce” market is currently worth $89.4 billion and is expected to grow to $604.5 billion in the next seven years.
Social media giants Instagram, Facebook and TikTok are investing millions in the space, with hopes to diversify their revenue streams and transform their platforms into ecommerce ecosystems.
Facebook launched “Shops” in May last year and Instagram has followed suit, bringing out shopfronts and shoppable links to business profiles.
Video sharing platform TikTok has finally stepped into the new retail battleground, allowing businesses to integrate shopfronts into their profiles.
Charged gets Hands On with TikTok’s new shopping feature in the first of a three-part instalment looking into the ‘social commerce revolution’ and how the apps work.
The new sales feature allows businesses to open up a “storefront”, allowing users to browse and purchase items without leaving the app.
Currently, the feature is only available on a select few brands’ pages as it is still in its trial phase. However it is expected be rolled out to any business that wants to access it in the near future.
On the 18th of August, British streetwear brand Just Hype announced that it had become one of the first retailers to trial this new technology after being approached by the social media giant to pilot the trial, alongside makeup brand Kylie Cosmetics.
Hype, which is popular with the TikTok generation and markets itself as a “global lifestyle brand”, has over 429,000 followers on the social media platform.
Brands that are participating will have an extra tab on their profile page which turns it from a conventional feed of videos to a virtual storefront.
Items are also shown on video pages as shoppable links (in this case, “Just Hype Blue Tracksuit”) which take you straight to the item’s product page where the users is able to complete the traditional checkout process which includes shipping options, size selection and product information.
Once, the link is clicked, it will bring up this page which looks similar to the checkout process on the clothing brand’s website itself. The user is able to checkout using all major credit and debit cards once they have selected sizing and colour options.
The retailer’s policies are also displayed to avoid any misunderstandings which people may be confused about since the checkout process is a brand new feature for the majority of app users.
While TikTok’s ecommerce trial is still in its early stages, we can gain some idea of how it will operate in the future by looking to its Chinese counterpart Douyin.
Douyin, ByteDance’s Chinese-only version of TikTok, already includes in-app shopping and has proved staggeringly successful for the company, seeing $26 billion of e-commerce transactions in its first year of operation, which is equivalent to the GDP of Iceland.
Douyin harness the marketing power of popular influencers who broadcast live from their profiles and offer deals on anything from napkins to air purifiers.
The video sharing app also offers related products depending on your interests, which is based on data collected from the user from their watching habits.
The items that are being showcased on the livestream pop up in the bottom right corner which the user is then able to click on before being taken to a checkout page for that product.
The whole experience of Douyin offers a seamless shopping process without even leaving the app, a process which we might be seeing come to TikTok very soon.
ByteDance is currently assembling a team in Singapore to work on the feature for TikTok, as it hopes to replicate the seamless shopping experience which Douyin offers globally, not just in China.