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TikTok, Shopify Announce New Partnership

Adriana Lee
·3 min read

TikTok took another step toward becoming a major shopping destination for Gen Z consumers on Tuesday when it revealed a global partnership with e-commerce platform Shopify.

The agreement will make it easier for Shopify sellers to reach the social platform’s audience of younger consumers, while laying groundwork for the latter to integrate commerce features into its app. Immediately merchants will be able to install a new TikTok app so they can run their social video campaigns or TikTok for Business advertisements directly in their Shopify dashboards.

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According to a Shopify spokeswoman, the changes offer retailers an easier way to lean on TikTok marketing, as they can select a feature product and choose an ad template to “deploy In-Feed shoppable video ads directly within Shopify.”

Merchants can also conduct ad-targeting and get performance metrics, as well as more easily make use of the TikTok Ads pixel. The tool, which can track customer conversions, was already available, but instead of requiring coding skills, it’s now available as a quick, one-click installation affair.

The deal essentially connects Shopify’s ecosystem, which covers more than a million sellers, with TikTok’s sprawling social video platform, which is driven by more than 100 million active users in the U.S. As if that’s not enough encouragement, a promotion of $300 in ad credits is being offered to encourage Shopify stores to get going with the TikTok integration.

Shopify and TikTok have also partnered to feature Black-owned businesses with a new #ShopBlack campaign, which runs from Nov. 10 to 15. TikTok’s first co-branded Hashtag Challenge Plus, the project asks TikTok users to spotlight their favorite Black-owned businesses using the hashtag. TikTok users will be able to check out videos from more than 40 Shopify merchants, plus use a custom-branded effect and music.

The moves look like an evolution of the relationship between TikTok and Shopify, which previously had been testing shopping features for the TikTok app. The partnership speaks to a growing social commerce movement, a trend that has been accelerated by the coronavirus. As the pandemic shuttered physical stores and sent massive traffic to online destinations, everyone from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest has been launching new or updated shopping features. The net effect has essentially turned these mobile app-driven channels into digital equivalents of shopping malls.

As places where people gather, it only makes sense to put retail front-and-center there. The concept has paved the way for features like shoppable business profiles, connected product catalogues and transaction tools. Meanwhile, the emergence of livestream shopping as a force in retail has driven more e-commerce attention on video.

TikTok could be a major new player in this dynamic, and it knows that. The developer has been dabbling with various features, such as allowing creators to include e-commerce links in bios, supporting “Shop Now” buttons and bringing e-commerce functions to hashtag campaigns.

The outlook for the app’s retail push looks promising, even if the developer’s fate still seems uncertain. The Trump administration unsuccessfully attempted to clamp down on installations of the app a few weeks ago, but another deadline looms in November, by which time an executive order mandated that ByteDance, the Chinese-based owner of TikTok, would have to divest. Oracle and Walmart had been the front-runners for a deal, before complications emerged surrounding who would own a controlling interest in the app.

The global nature of Shopify’s agreement with TikTok may be key to the social video app’s value to the retail platform, U.S. status notwithstanding. But a possible omission of the American market could still make for at least some significant wrinkles in the deal.

The new TikTok channel for Shopify is available immediately in the U.S., with other markets in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia to follow in 2021.