TikTok is making significant changes to its in-stream shopping strategy, aiming to drive more in-app spending by directing users towards its own native shopping features. The latest announcement involves discontinuing the Storefront feature, which allowed merchants to link their third-party shopping systems with TikTok’s interface, facilitating seamless in-app purchases.
Introduced in 2021, TikTok’s Storefronts initially focused on integrating with Shopify, enabling Shopify merchants to showcase their products directly within the TikTok platform. Although this integration was later extended to other eCommerce providers, TikTok is now urging retailers to transition to its own TikTok Shop.
According to TikTok’s announcement, “Storefront will be officially discontinued and unavailable for use. This means your Storefront products will no longer be visible on your TikTok profile, or be eligible for inclusion in short videos, LIVEs, and ads. You will also lose access to your Storefront on Store Manager. It’s important to migrate from your Storefront to TikTok Shop as soon as possible.”
TikTok’s push towards in-stream shopping is part of its broader efforts to enhance monetization. While in-app shopping has proven to be a lucrative revenue stream for the Chinese version of the app (known as Douyin), Western users have been less enthusiastic about making in-stream purchases.
Notably, live shopping has gained immense traction on Douyin, contributing to a 320% surge in product sales in 2022. This success has enabled Douyin to challenge established Asian eCommerce giants like Alibaba, JD, and Pinduoduo. With competitors such as Temu and Shein expanding their presence into new markets, TikTok recognizes the urgency to lead the rise of in-stream shopping in Western regions.
TikTok is well-positioned with its extensive user base, industry experience, and expertise to drive this shift. The ultimate success, however, hinges on whether users in Western markets embrace the concept of shopping while engaging with in-stream content.
The underlying strategy is to enhance the in-app shopping experience on TikTok, with the goal of potentially reshaping user behaviors. However, while this initiative holds promise, concerns regarding TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government could present obstacles to fully realizing its vision of increased in-app expenditure. A recent study shows, nearly half of US adults would support a possible TikTok ban due to the app’s China ties.