TikTok and Shopify, the e-commerce platform, said Tuesday that they were working together to add the ability for consumers to buy directly from the TikTok app for the first time.
TikTok has largely become known as a video app that provides entertainment and memes. Users have not been able to purchase products directly from the app, despite the fact that TikTok has many influencers who often talk about clothing, makeup, and household products. Instead, users have been able to purchase products on TikTok only through in-app ads.
But under the new partnership, Shopify merchants participating in a pilot program will be able to add a shopping tab to their profiles and link them to products within TikTok posts. Shopify said it hoped to expand the feature to all of its merchants this fall.
TikTok joins Instagram and Facebook to offer in-app purchases, part of a broader shift towards what is known as social commerce, buying products directly within a social media platform, as creators seek new ways to make money with your audience.
“Social commerce is important because it is the new town square” where consumers go to find and buy new products, said Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify, in an interview.
The move to in-app purchases reflects how people already use the app to find products, said Blake Chandlee, president of global business solutions at TikTok. The app has inspired two-thirds of users to buy even when they weren’t planning to, according to a survey TikTok conducted in the fall with London market researcher Walnut Unlimited. The hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit has 4.6 billion views.
One of the merchants that are part of the new pilot program is Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Jenner’s makeup and skincare brand, which has two million followers on TikTok. Ms. Jenner’s personal TikTok account has 34.9 million followers.
Social media is “where my audience and community grew,” Jenner wrote in an email. “The ability to buy my products directly on these platforms is very important because that’s where our audience goes first.”
Shopify said that sales on its social commerce channels, including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, grew 76 percent between February 2020 and February 2021. In total, Shopify works with 1.7 million merchants.