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Viral #BamaRush Phenomenon Explains Shopify’s TikTok Deal

TikTok and Shopify are looking to make the most out of their newfound partnership by taking the obvious next step—introducing TikTok Shopping for Shopify merchants across the U.S. and U.K., and select sellers in Canada.

The pilot, similar to in-app shopping features that already exist on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, will enable Shopify merchants with a TikTok For Business account to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles. Users will be able sync their product catalogs to create a mini-storefront that links directly to their online store for checkout.

Now, with the added TikTok Shopping component, the viral video platform enables Shopify merchants to use links to tag products in the social app’s organic posts. Users can choose to either shop directly from the merchant’s storefront or click a tagged product in a merchant’s TikTok video, which will take them to the merchant’s online store for checkout.

One of the biggest Shopify brands set to take advantage of the feature is Kylie Cosmetics, with founder Kylie Jenner already showing her support for the TikTok Shopping launch.

“I built my business on social media; it’s where my fans go first to look for what’s new from Kylie Cosmetics,” the beauty and fashion mogul said in a statement. “I have so much fun creating TikTok videos, and I love sharing posts of my fans using the products. That’s why I’m excited for Kylie Cosmetics to be one of the first to let customers shop directly on our TikTok!”

Megan Leedy Jones, vice president of marketing and partner at brand consultancy January Digital, described the shopping extension as a particularly smart move on TikTok’s behalf, given the commerce opportunity when a video goes viral.

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“A recent example is #BamaRush earlier this month, a brand name-dropping trend that garnered visibility for the likes of Kendra Scott and Dolce Vita. This new in-app shopping ability on TikTok is a reminder to brands that if they are looking to connect with particular customer demographics such as Gen Z, they need to ensure their digital strategy incorporates a social commerce component,” Leedy Jones said. “These trends showcase that brands cannot possibly create a long-term customer engagement strategy if they are not meeting them on the platform of their choice. Brands who are already capitalizing on these capabilities are not thriving by coincidence; they’ve prepared for it and they’ve researched this consumer. And most importantly, they’ve put forth and invested in a strategy that thrives in this sort of environment.”

The feature will roll out to additional regions in the coming months. Shopify merchants—which now total north of 1.7 million—can request early access to the TikTok Shopping pilot via Shopify’s TikTok channel.

“Creators are paving the way for a new kind of entrepreneurship where content, community, and commerce are key,” Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify, said in a statement. “By enabling new in-app shopping experiences and product discovery on TikTok for the first time, Shopify is powering the creator economy on one of the fastest-growing social and entertainment platforms in the world. We are excited to help this next generation of entrepreneurs connect with their audiences in more ways—and with TikTok as a visionary partner.”

The initial Shopify-TikTok deal struck in October introduced new tools that allowed Shopify merchants to create, run and optimize their TikTok marketing campaigns directly from the Shopify dashboard, as well as new integrations within the TikTok For Business Ads Manager.

TikTok has seen success in the shoppability arena in the past, making the Shopify a natural next step. In December, Walmart brought in top TikTok creators for its first shoppable livestream event, whose success sparked a second TikTok event in March.

In-app shopping aside, the platform’s popularity is doing wonders for brands. In July, designer Osian Gwynedd tied the platform into a Kickstarter campaign promoting his line of jeans for men and women. Just 9.5 hours after going live on Kickstarter in unison with promoting videos on TikTok, the venture reached its near-$35,000 crowdsourcing goal.

TikTok cuts into Instagram’s influencer share

The Shopify partnership is also especially valuable at a time when TikTok is eating into the share of Instagram as an influencer platform. In a February benchmark report surveying 5,000 agencies and brands, Influencer Marketing Hub found that 45 percent of marketers said they used the app in influencer campaigns in 2020—despite TikTok not even having enough users to register its own category in 2019. In the same time span, Instagram’s use for these campaigns fell from 80 percent to 68 percent.

Across the board, Shopify has taken notice, revealing that merchant installation of social commerce channels including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest increased by 76 percent in the 12 months since February last year.

If these social commerce efforts take off, particularly in an influencer-heavy platform like TikTok, merchants may have to be careful about who they want promoting their product and how it is portrayed.

A July survey from product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions provider Bazaarvoice said that to 56 percent of consumers, the everyday social media user has become the preferred influencer to follow. Forty-two percent of the 9,000 consumers surveyed indicate that they trust subject matter experts the most to share authentic and genuine content, whether it is beauty gurus, fashion experts, chefs, DIYers or stay-at-home moms. Coming in second is celebrity influencers (31 percent), but the survey indicated that the level of trust in this category has decreased due to concerns around inauthenticity.