TikTok embraces e-commerce in test that lets high-profile users push shops and products in their posts

  • The Chinese social platform TikTok is opening up its doors to e-commerce
  • New features let users link to to third-party sites like online shops 
  • Tools can be used in bios and also in posts to for an easy re-direct 
  • The features are currently available for only a small number of high-profile users

Chinese social media upstart TikTok is opening its doors to e-commerce by allowing users to post links to online shops in their bios and posts.

The move will be the first toward making TikTok – a platform known for its short-form videos set to music – friendlier to online commerce and will give merchants a more direct link to turning their accounts into sources of revenue.

‘We’re always experimenting with new ways to improve the app experience for our users’ a spokesperson for TikTok owner, ByteDance told TechCrunch.

‘Ultimately, we’re focused on ways to inspire creativity, bring joy, and add value for our community.’

TikTok will look to bolster e-commerce capabilities by letting users re-direct to online shops. File photo

TikTok will look to bolster e-commerce capabilities by letting users re-direct to online shops. File photo

The new feature, first discovered by Fabian Bern, founder of of Chinese startup Uplab, allow users to click on a link in a video or bio which then re-directs them to a third-party website without leaving the TikTok app.

This enables merchants to easily pass users off to their own personal online shops and has been a critical tool in the rise of what’s known as ‘social commerce’ – a subsection of e-commerce that leverages social media.

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The beta is currently available for some of TikTok’s most popular users in the US and could be rolled out for all users depending on how test goes.

TikTok’s inclusion of more e-commerce tools will bring it closer to features included by Instagram in recent years that have made it an important tool for merchants and brand influencers.

Starting this year, Instagram users are able to tag branded content in photos and video stories and use a new shopping mechanisms to sell goods directly within the app.

The two platforms have often ‘borrowed’ each other’s features in the past. This week, Instagram rolled out a feature called ‘Reels’ in Brazil that replicates TikTok’s characteristic style of video posts set to music.



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