Creators are Testing TikTok Shop—But Where are Brands?
Last updated on
November 10, 2023
Every social media platform is trying - or has tried - to make a big push into social e-commerce. It’s a risky business for social networks, and the internet is littered with some of those abandoned shopping features, left for dead because nobody was buying.
Though TikTok Shop only launched in September, there are already signs that it’s differentiated enough to have longevity - and profitability - for TikTok, the brands, and the creators who use it.
With the initial launch of Shop, TikTok wasn’t shy at announcing its ambitions to sell more than $20 billion worth of items. And the company has poured money into subsidizing discounts on the platform to encourage users to get on board with shopping where they’re entertained.
The consensus was clear—creators were ready to try out the new features, but they’re patiently waiting for more brands to bite.
TikTok Shop advice from creators who’ve found success
Parish Hayes is a full-time Strategist at Fohr and a men's lifestyle and grooming creator. When he's not crafting influencer marketing strategies for our Fohr clients, he's making styling videos (and is well-known for his brow content).
At the time of writing, the video generated nearly 600K views. Parish earned a few hundred dollars in commission through TikTok Shop. "As a Strategist, my number one goal was to learn more about TikTok Shop. I had zero expectation of selling anything when I posted it," Parish told me.
LaShaunte Beathea, on the other hand, has been part of all the TikTok business pilot programs since 2020. LaShaunte is a parenting creator and small business owner. According to LaShaunte, engaging content is the key to succeeding with a TikTok Shop strategy.
“I would have trusted the reviews more on Amazon, but clearly I was so entranced by TikTok,” said a 26-year-old TikTok Shop user.
Focusing on one product with multiple pieces of content was exactly what Alyssa Pannozzi did. As a trainer and fitness/wellness creator, Pannozzi received an early invitation to TikTok Shop. From there, she started regularly posting about her Stanley Cup products, which she already owned and loved.
Alyssa had this advice to give from her experience with TikTok Shop: "Do what you naturally do on TikTok, just add products.”
"Do what you naturally do on TikTok, just add products.” - Alyssa Pannozzi
Ascia Sahar is a fashion, home, lifestyle, and beauty creator. For Ascia, TikTok Shop is the superior affiliate platform to date. She spoke to our team about the organic product reviews on TikTok compared to Instagram:
“Instagram feels too much like an ad, too curated. TikTok feels more real, like real people giving their real opinion on a product… Instagram feels like your in-laws, you have to try so hard; whereas TikTok is your friends. On TikTok, it’s just like, it’s me, I’m here, here’s what I think.”
For Parish, that meant posting an authentic review about a product he already knew, used, and loved. He used a natural talking-to-camera style. That authenticity caught on with his audience.
“It was an aha moment,” said Parish.
“I think it resonated with my audience because the people who follow me already comment about my eyebrows. I chose this product from The Ordinary because I genuinely like this brand and recently purchased the serum. It worked for me. I also think the video performed well because the product is really niche compared to other products I’ve talked about. It targets a specific problem people are looking to solve.”
Creators are testing the waters—so where are the brands?
For the ‘The Need-to-Knows on TikTok Shop’ guide, we surveyed 242 creators about their experience with TikTok Shop. Of the 59% who have not joined yet, one of the top three reasons was that they’re waiting to see more brands they love join.
Alyssa Pannozzi shared a similar hope: “I wish bigger brands would hurry up and get involved, there’s so much opportunity.”
Most of the creators we spoke to shared that not enough reputable brands can be found using the TikTok Shop features or adding their products as available to implement in a Showcase. With the lack of reputable brands, low-quality or fake products are flooding the platform as creators hope to find an additional source of income.
For those brands hesitant to start with Shop, Ascia advises brands to start with their influencer marketing campaigns that involve gifting. “Make the products you’re gifting [to influencers] available on TikTok Shop, so your influencer partners can link to them as an additional perk.”