TikTok, the former go-to for dancing teens and lip dub enthusiasts, is currently home to a wide variety of content for all demographics — and a source of shopping inspiration to its 732 million global active users.

Just this week, I tried to buy a lipstick that I saw in a single TikTok from a creator I’d never come across before, only to learn it had sold out across Canada days earlier.

But that’s just a personal anecdote. If you need hard evidence that TikTok sells, take a look at this Elf Cosmetics case study. Or read about the great feta cheese shortage of 2021 caused by a baked pasta recipe that was trending on the app.

Until recently, TikTok-inspired shopping happened “organically:” creators talked about products in their TikToks, and viewers stormed ecommerce sites and local stores to track down said products.

Finally, in August 2021, TikTok and Shopify announced the launch of TikTok Shopping: a long-awaited social commerce experience that will bring in-app shopping and streamlined product discovery to the platform.

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What is TikTok Shopping?

TikTok Shopping is a social commerce solution allowing TikTok creators to promote and sell products on the platform.

With TikTok Shopping, creators will be able to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles:

Kylie Cosmetics profile on TikTok with shopping tab

Source: Kylie Cosmetics on TikTok

The tab will pull products from their Shopify product catalogs, allowing other TikTok users to browse products without leaving the app and easily navigate to the creators’ online stores for checkout.

Product page on Kylie Cosmetics' TikTok profile featuring "Checkout on website" button

Source: Kylie Cosmetics on TikTok

Creators with TikTok storefronts will also be able to tag products in organic TikTok content using dedicated product links.

Who can use TikTok Shopping?

TikTok Shopping is only available to Shopify merchants with a TikTok for Business account.

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As of September 2021, early access to TikTok Shopping has been granted to merchants in the US and UK. A select group of Canadian merchants will join the rollout in the next few weeks, and new regions will get access to the pilot over the coming months.

How to set up TikTok Shopping

Merchants can request early access to TikTok Shopping through Shopify’s TikTok channel. For more information, download the TikTok app for Shopify.

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Tips for creating a successful TikTok shop

Once you get access to TikTok Shopping, follow these steps to set yourself up for success.

1. Optimize your product catalog for TikTok

The shopping tab in your account will be your TikTok storefront, so make sure it’s optimized to attract customers.

When adding images, focus on quality and style. Your product photos should be easily recognizable as yours and consistent with how you present your brand across TikTok (and, ideally, other platforms too).

Product titles should fit within the character limit (34 characters) and include basic information about the product. The description can be longer and should include as many details as possible. Note that links in product descriptions on TikTok are not clickable.

Inside the TikTok shopping tab on skincare brand Glow Recipe's profile

Source: Glow Recipe on TikTok

2. Tell your audience about your TikTok shop

Once you get access to TikTok Shopping, don’t wait for your fans and followers to find the shopping tab on their own. Shout it from the rooftops! Create a couple of dedicated TikToks pointing your audience in the right direction.

3. Promote your products

Regardless of whether conversions are your main goal on TikTok, once you have a TikTok shop, it only makes sense to promote your catalog on your account. So, don’t be shy and mention your products in your TikToks every now and then.

And don’t be afraid to get creative! Your audience won’t get tired of seeing items from your catalog if you add a touch of humor to product mentions, like Glossier does:

@glossierpov: you’re a Balm Dotcom in the room while Getaway Car is being written #glossier #taylorswift♬ sonido original – Taylor Swift lyrics

4. Partner with influencers

TikTok is more than just another social media platform — it’s been dubbed a cultural phenomenon.

If you’re not well versed in its unique trends, subcultures, and inside jokes, you might be better off handing creative direction over to someone who lives and breathes the platform. Especially when you’re promoting a product and stakes are high (a.k.a. you can either make a lot of money or have your content get lost in the TikTok algorithm).

Partnering with TikTok influencers to promote your products or services is a great way to reach new audiences in an engaging and authentic way. Just make sure to find creators who really feel your brand. When you do, great things can happen, as in this collaboration between Casper and Ben Kielesinski:

@benkielesinski#ad Let me Cat Sit for you and you might end up with a new @casper Mattress to keep you cool #ad♬ SUNNY DAY – Matteo Rossanese

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