BLOG POST BY: The Goat Agency
June 6, 2024

The Marketer’s Guide to TikTok Social Commerce 

Social commerce offers one of the most frictionless, social-led shopping experiences yet. Through the recently launched TikTok Shop, your audience can see a product in action, research it, and make a purchase – all without ever leaving the TikTok app.

If you’re a brand or business looking to leverage this powerful new feature to its fullest potential, you’re in the right place.

Read on for a run-down of what’s going on with social commerce on TikTok in 2024, how you can start seeing success with it from day one, and our insider tips for refining your TikTok Shop for maximum impact.

Top Takeouts From The Next Era Of Influencer Marketing


What is social commerce?

TikTok social commerce

How brands can get started with TikTok social commerce

TikTok social commerce tips for brands

What is social commerce?

What’s the difference between social commerce and e-commerce, the backbone of your brand’s online sales to date? Put simply:

With e-commerce, you use marketing tactics (like TikTok influencer marketing) to drive traffic to your external storefront – be it your own website, or an e-commerce platform like Amazon or eBay.

Some view social commerce as a means of facilitating transactions between businesses and customers across social networks and digital media. In this article, we’re discussing direct commerce, or in-app shopping. 

The result?

·   Less distance between product discovery and the buy button

·   Less friction between inspirational influencer content and fulfillment of the desire it generates

·   Less disruption to the enjoyment of scrolling TikTok, allowing you to hitch your sales to the pleasure-loop of social media surfing and influencer interaction

With social commerce, it’s never been easier for viewers to connect to their favorite influencers via products – rewarding you for your intelligent influencer marketing efforts.

You can become an expert on the rapidly growing world of social commerce with our recent deep dive report, covering all major social platforms.

TikTok social commerce

TikTok Shop first emerged in 2019 on Douyin, the Chinese version of the platform. It’s since become a behemoth of digital commerce, with a staggering $274.2bn of sales on Douyin Shop in the first 10 months of 2023 alone

TikTok Shop is relatively fresh for Western audiences, having only arrived in the U.S. in September 2023, but it’s already proving to be a perfect fuel for the ongoing explosion in social-led shopping:

  • There were over 33M social shoppers on TikTok in 2023, up more than 40% from 2022.
  • 39% of American shoppers said that they were likely to purchase directly from TikTok in 2023
  • By 2027, it’s estimated over 42% of TikTok users will be making purchases directly through the platform

TikTok Shop thrives because it’s a marketing and sales match made in heaven. It distils the core elements that made TV shopping so effective over the past decades (and guarantee that it’ll continue in some form for a while longer) – product demonstration by a relatable persona, and an immediate, easy opportunity to purchase.

TikTok takes this to the next level – items are seamlessly integrated among entertainment and educational content, content is highly personalized, and viewers place a high degree of trust in the influencer endorsements they consume.

TikTok Shop is working equally hard to make itself attractive to vendors, regularly carrying part of shipping costs and offering competitive selling fees at the time of writing. In light of Instagram shuttering its in-app shopping tab earlier in 2023, TikTok could be poised to completely dominate the social shopping market in the coming years.

Why should brands be paying attention?

Like much of the rest of modern marketing and brand-building, companies ignore what Gen-Z are doing at their own peril. As the weathervane for tomorrow’s way of doing business, they’re pouring into TikTok Shop – both as buyers and sellers. Why?

This tech-savvy generation (and its overlaps with Millennials and Gen Alpha) are the fastest growing in spending power, with Gen-Z alone set to become the largest working-age demographic in less than 10 years. They’re social natives, prefer online shopping, and depend on peer recommendations or social media reviews when making purchase decisions.

No surprise then that they’re using online shopping functions that are integrated into those all-important discovery and research stages. But there’s more to it than that.

It comes down to a simple question: why are people – particularly Gen Z – on TikTok? The answer is, more than anything, they’re there to have fun.

TikTok Shop represents the commercialization of this core driver, as the pinnacle of ‘shoppertainment’. More than just making the purchase process more convenient, it has melded the act of buying with the fun interactivity of social media itself. The ‘buy’ button now sits alongside the ‘like’, ‘comment’ and ‘share’ buttons.

Viewers can now join in on a trend, complete a challenge, or align themselves with an influencer through a purchase, rather than just a comment. They can make a positive, material change in their life in response to inspirational, educational or entertaining influencer content.

Smart young TikTok influencers and marketers have recognized this – leading to a bloom of exciting new immersive and entertaining shopping options, from live shopping to shoppable videos.

Let’s take you through them.

How brands can get started with TikTok social commerce

Live shopping

TikTok live shopping is one of the greatest marketing innovations of this generation.

Take the most powerful elements of TV shopping and Twitch-style live streaming, combine it with the viral trend and personality-building capacity of TikTok, and you have one of the most compelling digital sales funnels ever created – contained entirely in one platform.

Live shopping allows brands and creators to host TikTok videos in real-time, with direct purchase links to any items that are mentioned or pinned to the stream.

In our live shopping campaign for Wayfair, we selected 12 influencers from a pool of more than 200 to deliver a week of pre-live and live shopping organic and paid experiences. From Way Day, the annual hotspot for deals, to an interactive Thursday night cooking lesson, our hand-picked personalities delivered a slew of brand-new shopping experiences to U.S. audiences.

With 11.4M video views and 1.2M post engagements, plus over 76k engagements in real-time on the livestreams, it’s clear that this new era of time-limited content is something viewers love.

Shoppable videos

Videos are the beating heart of TikTok. Short, instantly engaging, personality-led, they’ve long been our favorite way to create powerful brand or product marketing in partnership with the best influencers out there.

With shoppable videos, viewers can tap relevant product links to get details instantly and add it to their basket. No need to chase users through the web to work out where you might lose them – here you’ll enjoy sales or engagement with intent, all tied directly to your content.

With shoppable videos, it’s even easier to see whether brand-led or influencer-led content, combined with which tactics, will fill up the cash register.

Product showcase

TikTok Shop hasn’t just integrated commerce into videos, but into profiles as well. That means your corporate account, or the influencers you partner with, are now additional storefronts for your potential customers to browse.

A Product Showcase allows you to select items from your TikTok shop to display directly on your profile, accessible through a tab found under your bio.

This means that customers can explore your curated range of items without leaving the app, as well as find them in new ways. They might arrive at your TikTok Showcase through a particular product that’s going viral, for example, before discovering a broader range of products that they’ll love.

With influencer TikTok product showcases, users don’t even have to spot your product in one of the influencer’s videos. They’ll be able to find and buy it from an influencer’s showcase for as long as it’s hosted there. That means any of that influencer’s content, by bringing people to their profile, could lead viewers to your products – even if the initial content they encountered doesn’t contain them.

Creating a TikTok Shop that Sells

TikTok makes uploading products to your shop really straightforward.

What’s key to success is to make sure you’re providing all the necessary detail in your product listings, including keywords that allow users to discover them via search.

Your shop and showcase should also align with your wider TikTok strategy. If you’re focusing on a particular product range in your influencer or organic marketing, for example, do the same in your shop.

There’s no need to cram every product on your website into your TikTok shop – cultivate your digital shelves to be as easy, accessible and appealing as your content

TikTok social commerce tips for brands

Zoom out and see the whole picture

TikTok shop isn’t just bolted on to the app you know and love, it’s a social commerce integration that runs from root to branch throughout the platform. It’s already radically altering the user experience, the dynamics of user/customer journeys, and the purpose of your presence on TikTok as a brand.

To that end, you’ll need to ensure your approach on TikTok Shop is aligned with your broader social strategy – and altering both in relation to each other. How will these commerce features change your approach to TikTok content, your choice of partnerships, and the products you promote?

If you’re struggling to unpack all the possibilities, The Goat Agency is always on hand to help you reshape your strategy and make the most out of exciting new developments like TikTok Shop. In fact, we’ve got the next five years of influencer marketing covered in our Next Era of Influencer Marketing report. 

Consider product discovery on TikTok

Gone are the days when Google was the default place to research or discover new products.  Viral hits of recent times, like the Stanley Cup and Rhode phone case, are great examples of how new products end up exploding into wide awareness via social media, building cult status and enviable consumer demand almost overnight.

Featuring products on your TikTok shop or showcase creates a door for customers, but you still need to get people to find it – and clamor to get in.

Don’t stop thinking about how you can leverage influencers and innovative content types to elevate your products above the rest, drive interest from your target audiences, and spark that next viral craze in your favor.

Influencer integration

The critical importance of using influencers for effective TikTok marketing is universally understood.

What you might not know is that bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to influencer partnerships for social commerce. As Dimitri Leontidis, Creator Strategy Lead at TikTok said at our London event, “for the best results, broaden your perspective and work with different creators. Then use data to inform next actions”.

Our data suggests that the best success often comes through identifying influencers who are best aligned to your target audiences, have an active and loyal following (regardless of size), and perhaps most importantly – stand out from the crowd.

There’s also an emerging class of dedicated TikTok Shop creators in the new world of social commerce. These influencers specialize in driving in-app sales, and are well-equipped to make sure that your product appearing on screen correlates with clicks of the “Shop Now” button.

Don’t be afraid to stand out

TikTok is an entertainment platform at its core, and this will never change. Brands must seek to entertain, educate and inspire, no matter their approach.

In the world of TikTok, things move incredibly fast. Novelty and authenticity are the two things that you’ll need to continually chase, in order to avoid having them taken out of your hands the moment you let up.

To that end, brands mustn’t be afraid to think outside of the box. If you’re struggling to see the edges of your box, let alone break out of them, The Goat Agency and its global network of creators are always here to help.

Concluding thoughts

Do you want your brand to be one of the first to claim a space on the brand-new digital shelves of TikTok Shop?

Our work with Wayfair saw a dozen hand-picked influencers engaging audiences across a range of live shopping streams and shoppable videos, racking up millions of sales-focused engagements.

Get in touch to find out how we can turn you into a TikTok Shop success story.

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Written by: The Goat Agency