TikTok has now launched “TikTok Shop” across the US, giving users a new way to buy, sell, and earn affiliate marketing cash through the popular social platform.
TikTok Shop is the term for a whole set of different products, including: The “Shop Tab,” a marketplace within the app, an option for affiliate video creation that lets users earn comissions from products sold, and a shipping arm, “Fulfilled by TikTok,” which lets merchants on the platform deliver their products.
TikTok has been chewing over ways to bringing shopping to its platform for years, but this is their biggest move yet. Can the average TikTokker profit off of it? Here's what to know.
TikTok's new “Shop Tab” is likely the most visible new feature for the average user. With it, they'll be able to view and buy a business's products.
TikTok even fulfills shipping logistics as well as handling payments, so merchants selling through the Shop Tab will have their core ecommerce needs met from the start.
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TikTok will likely take a commission from Shop Tab products down the road, but appears to be in growth mode right now: A New York Times article cites one seller who says he is “not sure when TikTok might start taking a commission.”
It's a potential opportunity for the savvy drop shipper. And presumably, anyone selling a digital service or product — like, say, a tutorial on how to use Excel — can simply skip all the shipping and earn an even higher margin than they would otherwise.
If you have an impressive-enough following, you'll be able to get in on selling even without any products of your own, however: Affiliate videos give some users an option to monetize. Plenty of small and large influencers will be able to recommend the best products relevant to a vast range of niche interests.
TikTok Shop Stats
Online shopping via social platforms in the United States is an estimated $69 billion market. And it's one that plenty of websites, ecommerce businesses, and social platforms have been jostling for a big slice of for decades, from Facebook's recently killed “live shopping” feature to eBay's auctions to Shopify's link-in-bio tool.
TikTok is a heavy weight in social media, and it has already announced a few interesting statistics related to it's new ecommerce-oriented pivot. Here's what Yahoo! Finance recently reported:
- Registered for TikTok Shop: More than 200,000 sellers
- Using affiliate program: More than 100,000 content creators
- 92% of TikTok users said they take action after watching a product in TikTok.
- 90% of US shoppers “claim to be satisfied with their experience when TikTok was a part of their purchase journey.”
- Followers you'll need before you qualify for the affiliate program: 5,000 or more
- Amount of users who can already access the Shop Tab on their home screen: 40%
The TikTok Shop features are still being rolled out gradually to US users for another month, so you may not see them yourself until early October.
TikTok's Shaky Future?
TikTok has over a billion monthly active users, which makes it a massive success of a social platform. And with a renewed focus on ecommerce, the platform is well positioned to turn all that attention into soaring stock prices, while helping out millions of side-hustlers in the process.
But TikTok has some other problems: Governmental oversight. For one thing, any aspiring TikTok merchants that live in Montana are in for a rude awakening on January 2024, when that US state becomes the first to ban TikTok for regular users.
Other states are considering bans, too, based on the premise that the Beijing-based app could be leaking private data to its own government.
We'll have to wait to see whether TikTok can continue staying in use in the US long enough to corner the market on social platform ecommerce. But any online merchant worth their salt can tell you that this is just the latest reminder of the age-old industry advice: Diversify your revenue streams. TikTok Shop could be a great source of income, but it shouldn't be the only one.