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TikTok Shop aims to turn trendsetting power into sales

TikTok wooed marketers from companies like Madewell, H&M and Gucci as part of New York Fashion Week last Wednesday, transforming the stylish East Village restaurant Cathedral with a video wall showcasing “small luxuries” like fashion trends and TikTok- Tall mannequins with inspired styles were displayed.

TikTok has established itself as an essential advertising venue for brands aiming to reach their young users. But at the party, marketers were talking about TikTok’s efforts to sell products from the app itself.

The reason: After nearly a year of testing, speculation, and some internal turmoil, TikTok is rolling out the TikTok Shop to all users in the United States this week. The company will expand the rollout of shop buttons on the app’s home screen, which send people to the marketplace, and drive traffic to videos that contain shop buttons for specific products. Both enable users to purchase products in just a few clicks without leaving the app.

E-commerce is a key bet for the company, which is hoping to translate the app’s power as a cultural trendsetter into another big new revenue stream. But it’s a venture that other popular social platforms, including Instagram, have not been successful in in the United States.

To make it a hit, TikTok said it was actively playing videos with shopping buttons in users’ feeds. The company, at the moment, is also offering generous discounts and coupons to users who make purchases and is also taking commission from many sellers. TikTok said it has already signed up 200,000 sellers to TikTok Shop and more than 100,000 creators can do videos and livestreams with the Shopping button.

Nico Le Bourgeois, one of two executives overseeing the TikTok Shop in the United States, said, “We have a very aggressive plan to make a splash in the industry and make sure that people understand that TikTok is a great place to shop.” There is space.” Last week’s interview. “We will be very present for Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday through a combination of traffic, free shipping and deals.” He also said that TikTok Shop will run ads on the web and elsewhere.

On Monday, TikTok’s Shop button led to a page in the app that had a ton of items. Some were quirky, like a 27-cent palm-sized foldable chair and a $5.52 ice crusher with a hand crank. But there was also a section for verified brands like Revolve, Benefit Cosmetics and Otterbox, and products like Air Jordan sneakers.

In the main TikTok feed, creators are increasingly featuring products in videos that have an orange shop icon and a “eligible for commission” label. People can purchase products with Apple Pay, PayPal or credit card.

The Shop button, now visible to 40 percent of users on the main bar of the app’s home screen, debuted in August and will reach all of TikTok’s 150 million US users by early October.

An executive shakeup last month led to questions about the direction of U.S. e-commerce at the company. According to an internal memo, Sandy Hawkins, the person overseeing the efforts, left the company for personal reasons. Mr. Le Bourgeois, who joined TikTok from Amazon, and Marni Levin, a retail executive who was most recently at Meta, replaced him in the role. He reports to Bob Kang, global e-commerce head of ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok.

The company seems to have moved away from its initial focus on promoting purchases via livestream, According to many marketers, this is a big industry in Asia that has not found the same resonance in North America.

Craig Brommers, chief marketing officer of retailer American Eagle, said that when the chain tested live shopping events on TikTok last year, viewership was “significantly lower than what brands were experiencing in Asia-Pacific.”

“The initial hypothesis was that live shopping would take off in North America – we haven’t seen that success,” Mr. Brommers said. He said his company is eager to learn more about TikTok Shop’s other tools under its new leadership, especially if it can make it “seamless” for Gen Z shoppers, for example, TikTok creators at American Eagle Jeans. Look at, then buy them for a few. Click.

Mr. Le Bourgeois and Ms. Levin said videos featuring shopping buttons from brands and creators are now the main sales driver for TikTok Shop, though they said live shopping is still a priority and growing in the United States.

Creators who want to sell products on TikTok’s marketplace will have to choose from an assortment of items TikTok has available. Alyssa Pannozzi, an indoor cycling trainer and TikTok personality with more than 200,000 followers, said that when she looked at the sea of ​​products, many of them “came from foreign stores that had a lot of items.”

The company has already been accused of enabling poor sales Or Copyright-infringing products and compared growing rapidly Chinese shopping apps like Shein and Temu, which have flooded the market with cheap goods shipped directly from China.

TikTok executives have resisted such comparisons, saying it sees itself like the Amazon or China’s Tmall and is using technology and manual moderation to enforce its policies, which require new sellers. Requires “strong verification”. The company said that more than 90 percent of TikTok Shop sellers were US-based, and Mr. Le Bourgeois emphasized that many major brands such as Benefit, Olay, L’Oréal and Elf have joined or are planning to join TikTok Shop. Making plans.

Ms. Pannozzi, 37, said she was invited to join the TikTok shop a few months ago, but she largely ignored it until July, when she noticed her feed was filled with QVC-style pitches. And she wondered if she could make money from them. They’ve tried to feature items from sellers with positive reviews that are favorable to their followers — like hair elastics and water bottles — with a big success a few weeks ago with an ad video that got over two million views and Stanley More than 600 were sold. -Style Tumbler. She said she expected to earn thousands of dollars in commissions and had joined an agency’s invitation-only program for TikTok shop creators.

“Now, every morning when I wake up, I am getting a lot of inquiries,” she said. He added, “TikTok to me now is completely different than it was a few months ago – just the whole atmosphere of it.”

Paul Tran and Linda Truong, the married founders of South Korean skin-care company Love & Pebble, attended TikTok’s event with advertisers last week. He said in an interview that joining the TikTok Shop this summer was “life-changing” and that TikTok’s offers to buyers were generous.

Mr. Tran said the average price of the brand’s main product — the “Beauty Pops Ice Mask Kit” for the face — was about $39. While it was often selling for $7, or $11, less on TikTok due to app discounts, he said he was still making the same profit as he was at the standard price. Mr. Tran said he was not sure when TikTok might start charging commissions.

Ms. Levin said TikTok couldn’t elaborate on its future commission model, but said it is “focused on getting all sellers to be the first to add their inventory to the platform.”

“The name of the game is to keep people on the platform, whether it’s through shopping, whether it’s through video participation, whether it’s through dancing,” Ms. Levine said. “It’s always about keeping people engaged and being part of the community.”

Contact Sapna Maheshwari at

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