While it seems almost every social media app is copying TikTok these days, the short-form video platform itself appears to be watching Amazon closely. With recent reports revealing TikTok’s plans to open its own shopping fulfillment centers in the U.S., it looks like the platform is trying to become the next big online retail destination.
Though once dismissed as just an app for dancing teenagers, TikTok is making moves to level up its shopping features. Soon, you might start seeing TikTok warehouses pop up in your city. Read on to learn more about TikTok’s expansion into e-commerce, and what kind of monetization opportunities that could bring to creators.
How is TikTok stepping up its e-commerce efforts?
If some of TikTok’s latest job postings on LinkedIn are to be believed, the company is trying to move in on Amazon’s fulfillment turf. Job postings in Los Angeles and Seattle suggest that TikTok is in the early stages of building Amazon-style fulfillment centers in both cities. This implies that the platform is going all-in on the e-commerce side of its business, building on the success of TikTok Shop that launched in October 2020.
TikTok’s focus on online retail is outlined in one job listing, for a Business Solutions and Merchant Development Manager in Seattle:
“With millions of loyal users globally, we believe TikTok is an ideal platform to deliver a brand new and better e-commerce experience to our users.
We are looking for passionate and talented people to join our global fulfillment centre team, together we can build an e-commerce ecosystem that is innovative, secure and intuitive for our users.”
With hundreds of these job listings posted in the past week or so, it’s clear that TikTok is gearing up for a big push into e-commerce in the U.S.
What is TikTok Shop?
TikTok Shop gives businesses the ability to sell their products right from the app, with the actual transaction happening either on TikTok or on the business’ website. The feature helps smooth the transition from viral content to final purchase, and unlocks a whole new channel for businesses — not to mention a new, younger consumer base.
At its initial launch, TikTok Shop was only available in a few test markets. But as of September 2021, it has expanded into most countries and is already seeing some success.
So how do TikTok’s planned U.S. fulfillment centers fit into this picture?
Facilitating a sale is one thing, but managing an entire retail ecosystem is another. That depends on more than just software engineers and servers. You need warehouses, forklifts, people to move all those boxes, and more.
It’s clear that TikTok isn’t satisfied with just facilitating sales on the app. The platform has probably been looking back on Amazon’s meteoric growth from selling used books to selling, well, everything, and thought, “We can do that.” And to be fair, TikTok has already demonstrated that it can generate a huge amount of book sales, so maybe it is right.
It’s too early to tell what the true end goal looks like for TikTok, but reports suggest that if the platform can become the preferred online shopping destination for its audience, it can potentially enjoy a massive revenue stream.
How can you make money through TikTok Shop?
With a big push into the e-commerce space, TikTok will likely try to encourage content creators to participate in its shopping-related initiatives. While we don’t know what the app’s future incentives and programs look like, there are already a few ways you can benefit from TikTok’s online retail features.
Through TikTok’s affiliate system, you can find products ripe for promotion, feature them in your content, and get paid every time one of your followers makes a purchase. If your content fits with some of the most popular product categories on TikTok, like beauty products or fitness gear, then it’s an easy way to generate more income from your passion.
Become a merchant yourself
Creators can sell products on TikTok too. After all, as a content creator, you already have a potential customer base in your audience. If there’s a product you’ve always wanted to pitch to your followers, this is a great time to start that journey. Here’s what merchants can get out of TikTok Shop:
Merchant-led LIVEs and in-feed videos
When you’ve got something to sell, you can run “shoppable LIVEs,” meaning that your followers can go from viewing your content to buying your product in just a few taps.
You don’t have to be a one-man army. Through TikTok Shop, you can find other creators you can work with to promote your product.
Campaigns and promotions
Every month, TikTok runs themed campaigns that merchants can participate in, from Black Friday events to holiday shopping.
Content creators, like any other business owner, have to diversify their income to stay ahead of platform changes and the whims of advertisers. With the latest updates from TikTok, and an impending push for online retail, now may be the best time to explore your own retail opportunities on the app.
Shop till you drop
TikTok’s move towards in-house fulfillment is a potential game-changer. Only time will tell whether the platform will start giving Amazon a run for its money or not. However, there are things you can already do to get ahead of the game. Whether you think you’d do best as an affiliate marketer, or there’s a product you’re dying to sell, start exploring ways to earn money through TikTok Shop.
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