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    Could TikTok Ban eCommerce Links?

    Climb Online
    Could TikTok Ban Ecommerce Links?

    A new report published by tech publication, The Information, has claimed TikTok is planning to ban links to external eCommerce platforms, including major players such as Amazon. While TikTok has yet to confirm these plans, if bought into effect it would mean users could no longer add external eCommerce links to products on the platform, compelling users to instead buy through TikTok Shop.

    This news comes off the back of a projected loss of $500 million for TikTok Shop as the company invests into creating a robust delivery network and incentivising merchants to utilise the platform.

    So, why might TikTok be considering an eCommerce link ban, and what impact would this have?

    TikTok’s Current Consumer Landscape

    TikTok Shop has struggled to gain traction within the US, with consumers spending between $3 million to $4 million daily. While this is expected to rise to $10 million by the end of the year, it pales in comparison to figures in Southeast Asia, where TikTok Shop has been available since 2021, and has a daily merchandise volume of between $50 million to $60 million. Clearly, TikTok represents a viable model of eCommerce, and this reported ban could be one way of replicating its success.

    ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, seems to be positioning the video shorts app as a key component in its international eCommerce business, taking inspiration from sister app, Douyin, which amassed a merchandise volume of over $200 billion in 2022.

    TikTok’s eCommerce Aspirations

    TikTok evidently has big plans to become a powerhouse in global eCommerce, having already begun proactively enticing merchants on to its platform. We are already seeing TikTok lure merchants of bestselling items away from platforms such as Amazon, and onto TikTok Shop, offering them three months of zero commissions to create a win-win strategy for both buyers and sellers.

    Additionally, ByteDance are planning to expand further into eCommerce outside of TikTok Shop with its new in-app “Trendy Beat” – currently still in testing – which will function as a shopping section with products sold and shipped by a subsidiary of ByteDance.

    How TikTok Drives Purchasing Decisions

    For both brands and marketers, TikTok’s influence on purchasing decisions and shopping behaviours cannot be overstated. Recently, the phrase “TikTok made me buy it” has become synonymous with its ability to drive impulse purchases through the platform, with the popularity of this trend signalled by 67 billion hashtag uses of the phrase, and over 7 billion views of video content around the phrase.

    However, if the ban on eCommerce links comes into effect, it would likely signal a change in how consumers engage with the platform. Currently, TikTok is used predominantly as an awareness tool, somewhere that users go to learn more about products they are interested in purchasing, where they might watch reviews and find out as much information as possible before buying. When it comes to actually making a purchase, many consumers will switch to Google.

    Therefore, a potential shift in how TikTok is being utilised will also impact Google, with brands and marketers needing to re-evaluate how they run their ads to remain relevant and drive conversions.

    The Rise of Content Commerce

    While nothing has yet been confirmed by TikTok, the platform has made its intentions clear when it comes to strengthening its presence as an online shopping destination.

    So, while not completely unexpected, we can see a larger trend of content focused eCommerce and instant purchasing. Consumers are increasingly expecting a seamless shopping experience integrated with the social media content they are consuming, and if approached correctly, this could be a powerful opportunity for eCommerce brands that want to tap into the popularity of TikTok amongst the Gen Z demographic, and benefit from TikTok’s sophisticated algorithms.