TikTok has reportedly launched its much-discussed ecommerce platform, TikTok Shop, in the U.S., according to Semafor, allowing U.S. TikTok users to make purchases directly on the platform rather than linking out to a third-party website.
TikTok Shop was previously only available in the UK and seven countries in Asia. The U.S. launch of the offering has spurred a flurry of conjecture since a July 2022 report from The Financial Times indicated that TikTok was abandoning its plans to expand the offering to the U.S. and Europe after an initial test in the UK failed to find traction. TikTok quickly refuted the story, with a spokesperson telling Retail TouchPoints unequivocally that the planned rollout of TikTok Shop to additional markets “had not been paused or delayed.”
Now, it appears that a soft launch in the U.S. is underway, with Semafor reporting that testing of the feature began last week with a select set of U.S. companies. TikTok parent company ByteDance has said that the feature will be available to international merchants in the future.
A TikTok spokesperson told Retail TouchPoints that the U.S. launch was still in the “early days” and added: “We are always guided by demand and exploring new ways to enhance the TikTok experience. We’ve seen the positive impact of TikTok Shop, and we’re excited to continue experimenting with this new commerce opportunity to support businesses of all sizes and enable our community to discover and engage with products they love.”
In early October 2022, additional reports surfaced that TikTok was teaming up with live shopping platform TalkShopLive to bring TikTok Shop to the U.S., although TalkShopLive’s involvement has not been confirmed by either company officially.
Social media sites are the new ecommerce battleground, with everyone from Pinterest to Instagram to YouTube working feverishly to be the first to crack the social commerce nut. Just like its counterparts, TikTok already offers a host of social shopping features, but the true prize is finding a way to seamlessly allow shoppers to convert in-platform and then continue scrolling. The U.S. debut of TikTok Shop represents a big step in that direction for TikTok.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include a direct comment from TikTok.