Short-form mobile video app TikTok is expanding its ecommerce footprint by testing a new feature allowing users to add a shoppable URL to their bios or videos, creating an online store where consumers can shop without leaving the app.
“We’re always experimenting with new ways to improve the app experience for our users,” said a spokesman for TikTok parent ByteDance to Tech Crunch. “Ultimately, we’re focused on ways to inspire creativity, bring joy and add value for our community.”
Bern said the new social commerce feature has been in use since 2018 on Douyin, the counterpart of TikTok in China, according to Adweek.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that TikTok’s social commerce testing is already taking place in the U.S., saying the new feature “could give the popular video-sharing app an entry into ecommerce and a new way to make money beyond advertising to its growing U.S. audience.”
The move is seen as a strategy to compete with Instagram and Facebook shopping. While Instagram Shopping, available in both posts and stories, says it gives sellers “an immersive storefront for people to explore your best products,” users who want to make purchases are ultimately taken off the app to the vendor’s website.
TikTok’s move into social commerce comes at a time when its growth appears to be surging. The Sensor Tower blog said TikTok was the most downloaded social media app worldwide in September, with close to 60 million installs. The largest traffic came from India, representing 44% of total downloads, and 8% came from the United States at 8%. That put TikTok ahead of Facebook, Instagram, Likee, and Snapchat in that period.
“With an estimated 246.7 million social media users and counting, there’s no time like the present for merchants to develop your social commerce fulfillment strategy,” Perry Belcastro, Senior Vice President of Saddle Creek Logistics, wrote in a Multichannel Merchant column.
TikTok is also reportedly talking with major music labels such as Sony and Warner about licensing deals for a new streaming music service, according to the Financial Times. A 2019 launch is being discussed for Brazil and countries in Asia, before a rollout in the U.S., FT said. The cost is expected to be lower than Spotify and Apple’s streaming music services.