Using TikTok for social commerce in 2023

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Social commerce is a rapidly evolving channel that gives retailers another place to meet customers where they are. Retailers looking to explore this space should look at the possibilities with TikTok, which is one of the fastest-growing social commerce opportunities. 

While companies like Meta and Twitter are older and more established, many brands are also interested in what TikTok’s social commerce options have to offer. TikTok has fast become a destination for a growing community of over 1 billion users globally. TikTok’s growth has gained notice across industries, especially in the consumer spending the app is already attracting.

Before you start selling on TikTok, you should become familiar with the app’s functionality and options, as well as the advantages of the platform. Learn about TikTok’s social commerce, how to get your account set up and tips for selling on TikTok.

What is TikTok Commerce?

A suite of ecommerce solutions that enables merchants to sell directly through their TikTok account.

What is TikTok Shop?

TikTok Shop is an innovative new shopping feature which enables merchants, brands and creators to showcase and sell products directly on TikTok through in-feed videos, LIVEs, and a product showcase tab prominently featured on their TikTok profile page. TikTok Shop is currently available in UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Singapore.

What makes TikTok different?

TikTok’s focus on short video content helped it gain popularity, along with the 2017 acquisition of by its parent company, ByteDance. TikTok’s video-fueled growth gained the attention of its older competitor, Meta, which followed with its video feed alternative, Reels. 

Facebook and Instagram have larger shopping bases than TikTok, but the latter’s smaller audience is highly engaged. According to a Bazaarvoice survey, people who shop on TikTok browse and buy goods more frequently than shoppers on other social platforms. TikTok’s algorithm drives discovery and, in turn, purchase intent. 

For online retailers, it almost sounds too good to be true. TikTok’s massive success and continued growth have captured an audience that is ready to spend. It’s the ideal platform for a business to consumer (B2C) retailer. Even small businesses can have massive success with a single video that gains momentum and persuades users to buy.

Two-thirds of users “say TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so,” according to the company. This sentiment is also illustrated by the extensive use of the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag, which amassed over 7.4 billion views in 2021, not including variations such as #TikTokMadeMeBuyThis.

Another feature that sets TikTok apart is that social commerce on the app often leads to an off-platform experience. These off-platform purchases can take place at physical or online stores, or even other platforms like Facebook and Instagram. 

TikTok’s popularity with teens and young adults may also contribute to the high amount of off-platform buying, as they may have less purchasing power or access to payment methods. While TikTok is the first step in the purchasing cycle for those users, they are turning to family and friends to make the final purchasing decision elsewhere.

What’s next for this app? TikTok LIVE creates an incredible opportunity for brands and creators alike to expand their reach, engage in real-time conversations and make the most of features like in-feed videos and livestreams to bring their products in front of the TikTok community to drive sales.

According to a global study conducted by Ipsos:

  • 1 in 5 LIVE viewers watch TikTok LIVE, and of that group 62% watch it everyday
  • 50% of TikTok users have bought something after watching LIVE*

Tips for selling on TikTok

With its massive active user base, TikTok can help you find your audience. Hootsuite offers several suggestions for sellers, including a reminder that authenticity is essential. Make content that’s fun, engaging and represents your brand. Content created solely to be an advertisement won’t resonate with these users.

TikTok content has a short life cycle, so you’ll need to be consistent with posting and messaging if you want to be relevant. You don’t have to go it alone; your audience can create content on your behalf when they feel connected to a product, brand, cause or a trend. This is called user-generated content (UGC). TikTok challenges, memes, hashtags and other events are opportunities for your brand to connect with your audience on a more personal level — and spur UGC that engages with potential customers.

Another option for content is to engage with influencers. Hootsuite recommends researching influencers to ensure they have a significant following and are in a niche that resonates with yours. Cost can be a factor with influencers, and you’ll want to ensure that these arrangements feel authentic while being properly disclosed.

How to get started with TikTok

While TikTok is known for its rapid user growth and huge volume of content, sellers should see the platform’s potential in providing opportunities to reach niche audiences and establish your brand with a unique voice that speaks directly to the needs and desires of your customers. 

Here’s how to get started on TikTok:

Download TikTok

This one may seem obvious, but you might not be signed up with this service. If so, you’ll need to visit the Apple App Store or Google Play store to download the TikTok app. Once you’ve downloaded, installed and opened the app, find the Profile icon in the bottom menu bar and click “Sign Up” to register.

Set up your account

Even if you have a personal TikTok account, you might benefit from creating a separate account for your business. If you keep separate accounts, you’ll still be able to easily switch between them on the app. Make sure to fill out your profile and connect relevant social media accounts.

If you sign up as a new user, you’ll be assigned a “personal” account by default. From there, you can opt to change to a “pro” account that includes “creator” and “business” options. Personal accounts are for standard users, while creator accounts focus on users who post daily and actively work to grow their following. Business accounts allow you to add a link in your bio, supply business contact information and enjoy unique solutions that address engagement, performance tracking and advertising.

Start creating

Use your new business account to create content and explore the world of TikTok. Brands that want to stand out will need a lot of content, but don’t feel pressured to focus on views alone. It’s more important that you’re able to connect with your audience in a meaningful way. When you have the right content focus, you’ll be positioned to accelerate follower growth and attract followers who are more likely to shop with you.