TikTok is investing heavily into e-commerce with its TikTok Shop program, and it’s offering perks to brands and creators who join.
Getting started on TikTok Shop as a seller is simple. Brands and small businesses need to apply on the TikTok Seller Center portal, and upload documents for verification. The feature has been available in the US since November 2022.
The primary way creators and brands can help each other boost sales is through affiliate marketing. Brands give a percentage of each sale to creators for promoting the brand’s products. Sellers set their own commission rates, which usually range between 5% and 20%, according to creators and a TikTok exec.
TikTok / Maryam Malik / Lissette Calveiro
Brands can join TikTok Shop by applying on the platform’s website.
Once they are accepted to the program, they can set up their own product showcase on their TikTok profile, as well as pay creators a commission to promote items through affiliate marketing. They set their own commission, and they can choose between three affiliate plans:
“Shop” plan, with the same commission rate for all products;
“Open” plan, with select products and varying commission rates;
“Targeted” plan, which allows merchants to choose the creators they want to partner with.
Merchants have access to a Seller Center App that lets them manage their shop, inventory, orders, promotions, collaborations with creators, and customer service. Sellers can also integrate third-party e-commerce platforms, like Shopify, Square, Ecwid, and BigCommerce.
Is TikTok Shop free for sellers? You can register for free as a seller, and TikTok currently takes a 5% commission fee from merchants — the same as Instagram’s selling fee and lower than Amazon’s typical 8% to 15% commission rate.
As TikTok worked to woo merchants, it began offering perks such as free shipping and discounts for new sellers.
Some independent sellers told Insider that Shop has been lucrative for them. One creator who signed up to sell his independently published books on TikTok was able to quit his job as a nurse and focus on writing full time.
Not all brands are on board with Shop, though, and getting blue-chip corporations to start selling on the app has been particularly difficult, Insider reported.
The company has plans to not only onboard third-party merchants, but also to start selling items directly. It’s already launched a product page with this aim in the UK, “Trendy Beat,” and reportedly has plans to emulate this strategy in the US.
Job openings on TikTok’s website also appear to be recruiting a team tasked with boosting sales of pre-owned luxury items like bags and collectibles such as sneakers.
Creators can apply to start selling on Shop when they meet the platform’s community guidelines and three criteria:
be at least 18 years old;
have 1,000 followers;
have posted a video in the previous 28 days.
Creators (and brands) have three ways to sell on TikTok Shop, according to a document the company shared during a recent web summit:
Livestreaming: creators can go live on the platform and promote products to their viewers;
Shoppable videos: creators can link to products on the videos that they publish on the profile;
Product showcases: creators can list their favorite products in a dedicated showcase at the top of their profile.
On TikTok Shop, creators earn money through affiliate commissions. When they advertise a product in their content, they receive a cut of the sales they generate.
TikTok has also been offering creators bonuses, perks, and different types of exclusive programs to get them to use Shop.
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