After taking the Internet by storm with its addictive short video format, popular video-sharing platform TikTok could make a strategic move to expand its influence beyond the realm of social media. According to a report by Semafor, the ByteDance-owned company is preparing to take on some of the most prominent players in the e-commerce space by launching its own online store in the U.S. as early as next month. While no concrete details surround this interesting move, the report indicates that this online store would be integrated with the U.S. version of the TikTok app.
With TikTok users in the U.S. spending considerable time on the app, integrating an online store within the existing app will allow TikTok to earn direct revenue from its 150-million-strong U.S. user base. While we do not know how TikTok intends to integrate its online store within the app, the basic idea behind the move would be to allow its massive audience to discover, explore, and purchase products without ever leaving the app.
Notably, this upcoming online store would be different from TikTok’s existing TikTok Shop feature, which is essentially a marketplace for brands to sell their items on TikTok, with the platform only acting as an intermediary. With the upcoming TikTok Store, the company intends to sell physical goods directly to the consumer.
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Once TikTok’s new store goes live in the U.S., users will gain access to a dedicated e-commerce tab within the app. This tab will feature a comprehensive range of products from TikTok’s existing third-party store and its own store. Furthermore, users will be able to manage their purchases and track their orders directly from this tab.
While TikTok undeniably boasts tremendous success as a social media platform, venturing into e-commerce may present challenges. TikTok appears to be aiming not only to curate inventory for the online store but also to establish an independent distribution and supply chain management system to deliver goods to consumers. These facets of e-commerce have already been mastered by rivals, making it a formidable task even for well-resourced companies to achieve seamless operations from the beginning.
Considering the relatively modest performance of TikTok’s existing TikTok Shop, this new move could be a strategic shift to test the waters in the fiercely competitive e-commerce space. However, TikTok needs to address more than just consumer interest when launching its e-commerce platform. Observing how the U.S. government perceives this move will be intriguing, particularly since TikTok has indicated that many of the items it plans to sell on the platform originate from China.