Story updated 7/27/23
The new partnership will help “drive growth” and “enable merchants and small businesses to offer their customers a convenient and flexible payment option,” said Jonathan Low, Ecommerce Lead for Strategy and Special Projects at TikTok Shop in a statement to CNBC. Southeast Asia has become a key testing ground for TikTok as it builds out its ecommerce offering: seven countries in the region, along with the UK were the first to get TikTok Shop, which allows users to make purchases directly on the social media platform.
TikTok Shop has now quietly begun to roll out in the U.S. as well, while at the same time the company continues to trial new ecommerce offerings in Southeast Asia. In June 2023, TikTok announced that it would invest $12.2 million in the form of grants, digital skills training and advertising credits to help as many as 120,000 small and medium-sized businesses in Southeast Asia sell online through its platform. A few months prior, TikTok also debuted a new Shopping Center feature on its app in Malaysia to provide “a better buying and selling experience within the TikTok ecosystem.”
The UK also has become a key testing ground for TikTok Shop. In June 2023, reports surfaced of a new “Trendy Beat” section that had appeared on the app in that country, featuring products that had reached viral popularity on the platform. According to The Financial Times, all the products that appear in the Trendy Beat section are made by a company also owned by TikTok owner ByteDance.
[Update 7/27/23]: Multiple sources are reporting that TikTok is now planning to bring its China-sourced direct sales offering to U.S. consumers sometime in August following tests in markets like the UK. While the offering was dubbed “Trendy Beat” in the UK, Reuters reports that it is now being referred to as “full service.” The move is widely seen as a bid to compete with discount shopping apps Shein and Temu, which have both skyrocketed in popularity in the U.S. in recent years.
In July, TikTok also hosted its first-ever pop-up shop for seven days on London’s Oxford Street. The shop focused on three categories — technology, home and living, and books — and was populated by TikTok merchants that had items trending in various TikTok communities, including #CoffeeTok, #TechTok, #FoodTok, #HairTok and #HomeTok, according to a LinkedIn post from Lin Chen, Electronics Category Lead for Social Ecommerce at TikTok Shop.
“We showcased a revolutionary shopping experience that seamlessly merged offline and online social commerce in a delightful and interactive manner,” said Chen in the post. “Social commerce is indeed a thriving reality, and we are here to support businesses navigating this exciting frontier.”