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Why the Shopify-TikTok Alliance is Good for Small Merchants

TikTok is seemingly everywhere these days, and while its potential retail foray appeared to start with Walmart through a pending deal with Oracle, the company is already extending itself further into the e-commerce ecosystem. The social media phenomenon, known for its short-form videos, is partnering with Shopify in a move that gives more than 1 million merchants an opportunity to capitalize on viral content and reach younger audiences.

With the partnership, TikTok will have a channel within the online giant’s Shopify Channels, the set of sales and marketing channels that already includes top social networks including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Google, alongside major marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart.

The TikTok channel will allow merchants to create and connect their TikTok For Business account and deploy In-Feed shoppable video ads directly within Shopify, so that shoppers can buy products that they see being used or worn in the videos. To kick off the partnership, merchants are being offered a $300 ad credit to get started with their first TikTok campaign.

Merchants can select which product they would like to feature, and video ads are automatically generated that drive to their Shopify stores for checkout. Ready-made templates designed specifically for commerce are created with the idea that merchants of any size can take advantage of the TikTok channel using their existing imagery or video.

“The TikTok channel means Shopify merchants—even those without a strong TikTok following of their own yet—can connect with these new audiences using content that feels authentic and genuine to the TikTok experience,” Satish Kanwar, vice president of product at Shopify, said in a statement.

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Shopify and TikTok will also collaborate to test new commerce features over the coming months that will further empower merchants to expand their paid and organic reach in video and on profiles.

“As social media becomes more shoppable by the day, it makes sense that all kinds of technology giants would want a piece of the pie. After years of companies very slowly realizing the potential power that social media has in the consumer’s purchasing process, this move sends a message loud and clear that these avenues are the next frontier in e-commerce,” said Suzin Wold, senior vice president of marketing at user generated content technology company Bazaarvoice.

Wold noted the pandemic is continuing to push shoppers more toward social commerce, citing the company’s holiday survey in which 19 percent of consumers say they plan to holiday shop through social media for home delivery this year, compared to 14 percent last year.

But the Shopify/TikTok pairing could further mainstream social commerce, in that previous initiatives such as Instagram’s checkout feature and Facebook’s recent Shops platform launch of digital storefronts don’t have the power of video or the dedication of an army of Gen -ers.

There still is one hurdle left for TikTok as Oracle’s deal to become the manager of the company’s U.S. operations remains under review. An appeals court hearing is expected on Nov. 4 on whether to allow the U.S. government to bar transactions with TikTok, a move that the social site warned would effectively ban its use in the country.

Shopify, TikTok want consumers to #ShopBlack

The partnership will also showcase Black-owned businesses with the launch of TikTok’s first co-branded Hashtag Challenge Plus (HTC+), #ShopBlack. Running from Nov. 10-15, TikTok users can spotlight their favorite Black-owned businesses using the hashtag #ShopBlack. The campaign also features a custom branded effect, music and creator content, and will highlight products from more than 40 Shopify merchants, giving TikTok users a resource to support Black-owned businesses.

“Being able to quickly and effectively drive new customers to my website is extremely important since we live in such a fast-paced world,” said Michael Terrence Nightwing, founder and CEO of Neter Gold, a natural body care brand. “With TikTok and Shopify working together the process for reaching new customers will be much smoother. And I can spend less time working and more time creating, which is exactly why I’m looking forward to the #ShopBlack Hashtag Challenge, and why deciding to participate was a no brainer for me.”

But Shopify isn’t done there. The company is also launching the Black Business Directory, which includes 684 (and growing) Black-owned businesses on Shopify, so shoppers can use the directory to discover and buy from Black Shopify merchants. The launch of the directory follows the recent announcement that Shopify and Operation Hope have joined forces to help create 1 million Black-owned businesses by 2030.

More players in the retail industry are putting together efforts to support Black-owned businesses. One new online marketplace, HellaBlack, is set to launch this winter to ease the burden on these businesses, which have been hit hard by Covid-19. And in July, Foot Locker pledged $200 million toward supporting the Black community over the next five years through investments in youth-centric Black-owned businesses, purchases from Black-owned brands and donations to organizations dedicated to creating opportunities for minorities.

Facebook is launching a campaign to highlight Black-owned businesses from Oct. 30 through Nov. 27—Black Friday—and will spotlight a Black entrepreneur on the live #BuyBlack Friday Show each week. It is also offering events and resources through its app and a Lift Black Voices hub.

Additionally, entrepreneur Cynthia Daniels is launching “Black Business Friday” online on Black Friday to showcase 200 U.S. Black-owned businesses within a virtual shopping experience.

Shopify’s TikTok channel is now available in the U.S., and will become available in other select markets throughout North America, Europe and Southeast Asia in early 2021.