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TikTok Said to Pursue Livestream Shopping With Walmart-Approved Tech

TikTok is reportedly partnering with TalkShopLive to launch a live shopping platform in the U.S.

The Financial Times reported Saturday that the viral video app is in talks with the Los Angeles-based social-shopping network to finalize arrangements. While sources close to the matter told the outlet that no contracts have been signed yet, they said TikTok wants to outsource live shopping operations to the U.S. tech company to serve the North American market.

The news comes after Walmart, itself a TikTok partner, expanded its work with TalkShopLive earlier this year after a pilot that started in 2021. “As a scalable live commerce solution for businesses and creators of all sizes, Walmart is expanding its partnership with talkshoplive,” Casey Schlaybaugh, vice president of brand at Walmart, said in a statement in February. She went on to describe TalkShopLive, which raised $6 million in July last year, as a valuable avenue for “connecting with our customers, bringing both entertainment and product information to one place.”

“As livestream shopping is adopted in North America, every brand and retailer is now looking at what their livestream shopping strategy should be—it is a testament to our partnership with Walmart that they see TalkShopLive as their scalable solution that is always on,” added Bryan Moore, cofounding CEO of TalkShopLive, whose patent-pending video player reduces path-to-purchase friction. 

“Walmart is a leader and innovator in the space,” Moore said. “Together, our partnership allows them to seamlessly integrate and drive distribution with publishers, creators and their suppliers—ultimately connecting the retail landscape to increase sales conversions, build customer loyalty, and create shopping experiences that everyone is talking about.”

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TikTok’s interest in the livestream shopping platform reportedly stems from its ambition to replicate its TikTok Shop business, which serves Asian markets including Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. TikTok owner Bytedance has been expanding the shopping platform’s reach, having launched TikTok Shop in the U.K. last year. To use the platform, TikTok Shop users click on links that appear during live broadcasts. TalkShopLive operates similarly, with livestreamers promoting products that appear in a shoppable module next to their video feeds.

TikTok is taking a larger role in product discovery. In a Q3 survey of 1,000 U.S. shoppers, Jungle Scout found that 21 percent of respondents now start their product searches on TikTok from 11 percent in Q2. That compares to the 20 percent who look to Instagram for discovery.

Consumers are increasingly comfortable purchasing through social media, with 52 percent of people saying they’re okay buying on Instagram in Q3 this year from 46 percent in Q2. Facebook users likely to buy on the platform grew from 51 percent to 58 percent. For TikTok, the numbers rose to 48 percent from 35 percent the previous quarter.

Social media companies are investing in features to drive sales. TikTok’s Order Center feature launched in August allowing users to track items they’ve purchased, tagged or added to a wishlist. They can save their payment information for future use, track shipments and returns, and view algorithm-based product recommendations.

“Social media companies have been working to incorporate e-commerce into their platforms for years, but as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the popularity of online shopping, so, too, did the speed at which these companies rolled out e-commerce capabilities and offerings,” Jungle Scout analysts wrote. Data from eMarketer shows that social shopping revenues are expected to reach over $56 billion next year, up from about $30 billion in 2020.