Your go-to guide on how to sell and buy products on TikTok Shop

By Alma Fabiani

Published Sep 3, 2023 at 08:50 AM

Reading time: 5 minutes

Shopping online has become commonplace for most of us, especially younger generations. In fact, a 2023 retail trend report conducted by GWI revealed that 52 per cent of gen Z in the US prefer to shop online, while 48 per cent prefer to shop in-store. But shopping online doesn’t only mean endlessly scrolling on the Zara, Uniqlo and H&M websites anymore.

The rise of the social media shopping trend

Around the world, three in ten gen Z say they use social media as a place for inspiration. In other words, it’s becoming a one-stop shop for their purchase journey. They want to be inspired, rather than simply informed, and platforms like Instagram and TikTok fill this role nicely. They’re no longer looking for a specific item to search for and buy, instead, they’re more prone to exploring and finding things they didn’t even know they needed in the first place.

GWI further revealed that gen Z typically hear about new products and services through social media, whether it’s through ads on social media (38 per cent) or social media posts (33 per cent). So, it’s no surprise why so many social media platforms have launched their respective in-app shopping experience—where there’s money, there’s social media giants.

While Meta has Instagram Shopping and Facebook Marketplace, TikTok has the TikTok Shop, its own e-commerce solution integrated within the video-sharing app.

TikTok is renowned for its incredibly powerful algorithm-driven content discovery, enabling videos to go viral and reach massive audiences in no time. The TikTok Shop leverages this discovery potential, allowing e-commerce businesses to gain exposure to a vast user base. That’s why, we’ve created a go-to guide for anyone looking to master the art of selling (and buying) on TikTok.

What is TikTok Shop?

If you’re not familiar with the TikTok shopping feature, mostly known as the TikTok Shop, first of all, where the hell have you been the past two years? Rolled out in August 2021 in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam, the TikTok Shop marketplace became an overnight sensation. Not only does the e-commerce feature provide users with three native ways to buy their favourite TikTok products, it also enables both merchants and creators to showcase and sell items for the whole TikTok community to discover and purchase seamlessly through the app.

How to shop on TikTok

As mentioned just above, sellers and creators can sell products in three different ways: in-feed videos, LIVEs, and the product showcase tab. This means that, if you’re keen to start purchasing some of the viral items that were recommended to you through your FYP, you’ll need to know the key places where you might be able to buy them on the TikTok app.

Shoppable videos

You can shop directly from a shoppable in-feed video by tapping the product link and basket icon. Any video you come across (whether that’s through your FYP or by searching for a specific creator’s account) that features the yellow basket icon above a user’s handle and caption means that you can purchase the product being shown in that clip.

LIVE shopping

Shop directly from a TikTok LIVE by tapping the pinned products or browsing the shopping basket icon. “At any time of day, you can scroll through TikTok LIVE and see someone selling all sorts of things—from clothes to fitness equipment to toys to sweets, cakes, crystals and coffee mugs,” writes The Guardian, highlighting just how popular live shopping has recently become.

Sure, it has been big in China since 2016 and OG shopping channels like QVC and the Home Shopping Network have been doing something similar on TV for decades, but TikTok’s livestream-selling feature has truly changed the game when it comes to targeting younger, tech-savvy consumers.

Whether you’re a brand, a small business owner or a potential customer, TikTok LIVE is the best way to interact and engage with one another while streamlining the purchasing process. As brands and content creators showcase each product, a pin related to that item will pop up on the LIVE. Viewers can then tap that pin to add the item to their TikTok Shop cart and then check out within the app itself.

Users can also wait until the end of a livestream to browse through all the items that were featured in the broadcast. From there, they can simply tap the yellow shopping cart icon and then select the products they want to buy.

Product showcase

Shop directly from a brand or creator’s account by clicking on the shopping bag tab on their profile. Once on there, you’ll be able to browse products and shop brands or creator-listed products in just a few taps!

How to set up TikTok Shop

Setting up a TikTok Shop as a brand or content creator can be an exciting way to monetise your presence on the platform. To set up TikTok Shop as a seller, you will need to onboard through the TikTok Seller Center, the app’s one-stop portal that provides merchants with end-to-end solutions to launch and manage their e-commerce business on TikTok.

When you create a shop with TikTok Seller Center you can run every aspect of your e-commerce business entirely through TikTok. Upload all of your necessary documents, add your products, then link your bank account, and you’re good to go!

Once you’ve officially become a TikTok merchant, you can continue to add new products to your TikTok Shop through the Seller Center. You’ll be able to manage your shop, inventory, orders, promotions, creator partnerships, and customer service, all on there.

10 tips to boost your TikTok Shop revenue

Now that you’ve set up your TikTok Shop through the app’s Seller Center, it’s important that you take the time to boost your chances at making big bucks. Here’s a concise guide which’ll help you get  started in no time:

1. Optimise your TikTok profile

This might sound obvious, but start by making sure that your TikTok profile reflects your brand identity. Use a recognisable profile picture, a catchy username, and a bio that accurately describes your niche or products.

2. Don’t sleep on your content strategy

Continue creating engaging and relevant content. Showcase your products subtly within your videos to pique viewers’ interest. Use viral TikTok trends and challenges creatively to organically integrate your offerings.

3. Join the TikTok Creator Marketplace

Try to join the TikTok Creator Marketplace if you’re eligible—not to be confused with the TikTok Creator Fund, which, it should be noted, isn’t all sunshine and roses. This platform connects brands with content creators, fostering potential collaborations and brand partnerships.

4. Share product teasers

Build anticipation among your customers by teasing upcoming products or exclusive offers through short and engaging videos. This can generate excitement and a sense of exclusivity among your followers.

5. Work on your hashtag strategy

Research trending and relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of your posts. Create a branded hashtag for your shop and encourage user-generated content (UGC).

6. Take advantage of the different TikTok Shop features

Utilise TikTok’s shopping features, such as adding product links to your profile bio or using the ‘Shop Now’ call-to-action (CTA) button in your videos.

7. Engage with your audience

Respond to comments, messages, and engage with your followers to build a loyal community. Don’t forget to answer their questions about products and services promptly.

8. Leverage livestreams

If you want your TikTok Shop to be successful, you’ll have to dabble in livestream selling too. Host interactive LIVEs where you can showcase products in real-time, answer questions, and offer exclusive discounts.

9. Monitor your analytics

Keep track of your TikTok Shop’s performance using TikTok’s analytics tools. This helps you understand what’s working and make necessary adjustments.

10. Consistent and patient wins the race

Building a successful TikTok Shop takes time. Stay consistent with your content, engage authentically, and be patient as your audience and sales grow. And remember, authenticity is key on TikTok, especially in the eyes of gen Zers. Balancing your creative content with your products in a genuine and engaging manner is crucial for a successful TikTok Shop as a brand or content creator.

How to link products on TikTok

Once you’ve set up your TikTok Shop, you can create organic TikTok videos that contain product links. To do so, start by creating a video on the app. From the ‘post’ module, click ‘add link’, and then select ‘products’.

From the ‘showcase’ module, click ‘add’ to select the product you want to feature in the video. Then, enter a product name and click ‘add’ again.

Repeat this process for each product link you want to add to your video. Finally, finish creating your video and click ‘post’.

Keep in mind that all videos with product links undergo an additional review process. Once the products are approved, their product link will appear in the video, just above your username. When someone taps it, it will take them to a product details page where they can learn more about your item and decide whether or not they want to purchase it.

Now, go get that bread!

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