TikTok is turning into an e-commerce platform faster than you think
A week before VidCon London in February, TikTok rolled out a relatively unnoticed new feature: creators could, for the first time, include a link in their bio. The system mimicked that of Instagram, and plugged a gap that some more enterprising creators had groused about with the shortform video sharing app.
The stars of TikTok had, until then, been able to build a dedicated audience of tens of millions – but they hadn’t really been able to monetise them. Ads have been slow to come to TikTok, though previous Pentos blogs have shown how the company is testing selling ads against particular creators. And back then, the Creator Marketplace, which allows brands to search through TikTok creators based on a number of metrics to propose sponsored partnerships, didn’t exist.
The link in bio change barely made a ripple in the outside world, but was heralded by creators as a big change.
Another enormous shift that makes it easier for creators to recoup money for their work has just been announced by TikTok. A beta test of a new feature, Shop Now, has been trialed by a number of large retailers including Levi’s.
The trial was rolled out in November 2019, and Levi’s was one of the first brands able to use it. The system works by allowing brands to team up with influencers who demonstrate or show off the company’s products in their videos, and can link them directly to sites where they can buy the same items.
Levi’s developed a marketing campaign with Callen Schaub, Cosette Rinab, Gabby Morrison and Everett Williams to market a custom denim design using a new technology that Levi’s had developed. The deal with the influencers involved each of them showing off the technology through videos they posted on the platform that linked through to the official Levi’s site, where fans of the creators could buy the customised denim they had designed.
The campaign, which concluded on 19 April, seems to have been a success – at least for Levi’s. The company said in a blog post that watch time for these videos are twice as long as platform average on TikTok. They also boosted page views for its customized denim products by more than double.
“TikTok was the perfect platform for us to expand our efforts in social commerce. Over the last decade, we’ve been on a journey to not only grow our digital footprint, but also help our fans buy our products at the point of inspiration, when they see something they love,” said Brady Stewart, managing director, U.S. Direct to Consumer.
“As consumer behaviour shifts over the coming months and people explore different online channels for shopping and engaging with brands, we are here to connect with consumers, wherever they are.”
The test was limited to big brands, but generally tools that are tested in the sandbox such as this make their way towards more users and companies in the near future. It’s just another example of the way that TikTok is maturing from a social media platform that has an enormous audience to one that is able to sustain a vibrant ecosystem of creators financially, allowing them to produce their content full-time.