TikTok is experimenting with a feature that has the ability to make all posts on the app shoppable, as first reported by Bloomberg. The move is part of the company's plans to turn TikTok Shop into a multibillion-dollar e-commerce business in the United States. TikTok confirmed that the feature is currently in limited testing, but did not provide any further details.
The new test feature automatically identifies items in videos and directs viewers to "find similar items on TikTok Shop." In the past, only approved influencers and brands had the ability to tag products. The new feature would bring e-commerce links into more videos on the app.
The news comes as Bloomberg reported earlier this month that TikTok is looking to grow the size of its TikTok Shop U.S. business tenfold to as much as $17.5 billion this year. With this goal, TikTok would not only be looking to take on Amazon, but also fellow Chinese-owned companies Temu and Shein, both of which have become popular in the U.S. But, TikTok has something these other companies don’t, which is an extremely popular social media network that has the potential to reach millions of buyers.
During the Black Friday and Cyber Monday season in November, more than 5 million new U.S. customers purchased something via TikTok Shop. For context, the social media app currently has around 150 million users in the U.S.
TikTok Shop, which officially launched in the U.S. in September 2023, lets creators tag products to allow users to buy products from in-feed videos and live videos. The new feature would bring TikTok Shop links to regular content on the app, which may not be a welcome change for some.
New data reveals that TikTok’s growth has started to slow, raising the question of whether the app’s TikTok Shop e-commerce efforts could be to blame. In 2022, TikTok’s monthly active users grew an average of 12% year-over-year per quarter, but this figure fell to 3% year-over-year per quarter in 2023. The slowdown comes on the heels of the launch of TikTok Shop in the U.S.
In addition to bringing TikTok Shop links to more videos on the platform, TikTok is also exploring other ways to boost its e-commerce business. The Information reported today that TikTok is planning to open studios in Los Angeles where creators can livestream and sell products. Creators currently record promotional videos at their setups at home, but some of them will soon have the option to film and broadcast content from TikTok-operated studios.