Global social media phenomenon, TikTok, was launched in China in September 2016. Since then the short-form video sharing platform has reached four billion downloads, averages 1.8 billion monthly users and is expected to grow to two billion by the end of 2024. Accessed by over 780 million users daily in China alone, it has beaten Instagram and WhatsApp to become the most downloaded mobile app.
Formerly known as Musical.ly, the platform first gained popularity with a young audience for its lip-syncing and dance videos. No longer limited to Gen-Zers, its global appeal has widened across various age groups and it wasn’t long before TikTok presented an unmissable opportunity for brands looking to engage with its wide-reaching and highly engaged audience.
Viral trends and algorithm-driven content discovery through short-form videos make TikTok an ideal space for brands to attract consumers and drive sales. As of the end of Q4 2022, the platform had reached over $6 billion in consumer spending, although shopping developed organically, with creators referencing products on their feed and purchasers having to leave the app to buy from the vendor’s e-commerce site or bricks and mortar store.
However, news of a potential change to TikTok’s policy regarding external links could have significant implications for brands and their social commerce activities.
According to technology news website The Information, TikTok is said to be considering banning links to external e-commerce sites, in order to promote its own e-commerce platform. Currently, many TikTok videos contain product recommendations, linking to external online marketplaces, in particular, TikTok’s rival, Amazon. While the company itself denies the claim, the report says the move would be a way for TikTok to expand its own e-commerce efforts by funnelling all purchases through ‘TikTok Shop’ and generating revenue directly within the platform.
‘Content consumption to product purchase’
TikTok’s proprietary social commerce platform, ‘TikTok Shop’ launched across Asia and the UK in 2021 and, having been tested on consumers in the US over several months, was eventually officially rolled out to its 150 million users in September 2023.
Described as ‘an e-commerce solution integrated within TikTok…[which] enables merchants and creators to showcase and sell products for the TikTok community to discover and purchase directly through a complete in-app experience’ the Shop feature offers ‘all-in-app’ shopping without the need to open a web browser and buy from a separate e-commerce store.
This seamless transition from content consumption to product purchase means brands could capitalise on the impulsive nature of its user base, and has already seen major UK beauty and wellness brands such as Holland & Barrett, Cult Beauty and MyProtein join the platform to sell directly to an engaged community. Now, in a bid to move away from its current perceived offering of cheap (even counterfeit) products from China, TikTok is proactively seeking to partner with other successful merchants and, according to a spokesperson, ‘more than 200,000 sellers have registered for TikTok Shop’.
To highlight their launch on the UK Shop, Benefit hosted a series of lives and short videos from their boutique, creating compelling visual content to showcase their products, engage with their target audience and drive sales. It worked, and the US beauty brand reported an increase in organic followers and engagement within just 3 days of launch.
Using viral success to delivery long-term results
When a brand goes viral on TikTok – or any other social media platform – the boost in exposure can be phenomenal and having a 3PL provider that can manage those unexpected surges in demand for products is essential.
There are various ways in which good 3PLs support brands to enhance their social commerce sales strategy:
1. Inventory Management
3PLs can handle a brands’ inventory storage and management, optimising inventory levels to mitigate the risk of over or under-stock situations. This is crucial for ensuring that products are readily available to fulfil orders generated through social media campaigns.
2. Order Fulfilment
When TikTok-generated orders roll in, 3PLs can efficiently pick, pack and ship products direct to customers. Their scalability ensures that brands can handle sudden surges in demand during viral TikTok trends or promotions.
3. Processing, Shipping & Delivery
A reliable 3PL can negotiate favourable shipping rates and manage the logistics of delivering products to customers, as well as selecting the most cost-effective shipping methods and tracking shipments.
4. Returns Management
Using a 3PL to efficiently process and manage product returns ensures an on-brand, hassle-free experience for customers.
5. Technology Integration
3PLs can integrate with the brand’s e-commerce platform and TikTok’s sales features, enabling real-time order processing and tracking and ensuring customers receive timely updates on their orders.
6. Gift Wrapping & Personalisation
Depending on the brand’s needs, 3PLs can provide customised packaging, branding, and other value-added services to ensure products arrive on time, looking good and in perfect condition.
7. Data Analytics
Many 3PLs can provide valuable data and insights into order fulfilment and shipping performance, helping brands make informed decisions and optimise their TikTok sales strategy.
As brands grow and launch new TikTok campaigns or expand into different markets, a 3PL offers the flexibility and scalability to adapt to changing demands.
9. International Expansion
For brands looking to sell on social media platforms across multiple territories, 3PLs can assist with global logistics and navigate the complexities of international shipping and customs.
10. Client Support
Good 3PLs offer professional front-line support services to clients, ensuring the seamless and successful fulfilment of goods to their end customers.
Maximising Market Reach
By integrating with TikTok Shop, brands can showcase and sell their products directly on the platform and, to truly maximise their market reach and capitalise on the opportunities, having a trusted 3PL is invaluable.
Offering expertise in logistics, inventory management and order fulfilment, ILG enables brands to focus on marketing, product development and customer engagement while ensuring a seamless and efficient supply chain that meets the demands of TikTok’s dynamic and viral-driven sales environment.
Get in touch today to find out how ILG can support your brand with all your social and e-commerce fulfilment requirements.