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TikTok moves into e-commerce with live UK shopping event

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In this photo illustration a close-up of a TikTok app icon seen displayed on a smartphone screen. (Photo by Thiago Prudencio / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
TikTok has seen its popularity soar during the pandemic. Photo: PA

Video sharing app TikTok is foraying into the world of e-commerce, with a live shopping event where UK users will be able to buy products directly from within the app.

“We think it's a really significant moment. E-commerce is a big opportunity for TikTok and it's something we're investing in significantly," said Rich Waterworth, TikTok general manager, UK and EU.

TikTok has chosen the UK to make its first major move into the online retail space.

Running from 5pm on 8 and 9 December, the event called 'On Trend' was described by TikTok as a unique shopping event which will feature offers and exclusive discounts by beauty and tech brands like Charlotte Tilbury, L'Oréal Paris and Nutri Bullet., plus entertainment from popular creators, entertainers and musicians.

It's already had livestream shopping events with brands during the Black Friday weekend.

Livestream shopping allows viewers to watch online content and shop at the same time. The app which is hosting an event gets a cut from sales.

The app has seen its popularity soar during the pandemic, with users stuck at home letting their creative juices flow to create lip sync videos and dance routines that often go viral.

TikTok's move comes amid a rise not only in online shopping – which has boomed during the pandemic – but also "social shopping" where consumers discover and purchase items within social media platforms, without being directed to a third-party website.

Read more: US becomes top destination for UK financial services exports

"People who have a shared interest or a shared love for a creator or a product area, these communities come together and make the experience of finding and enjoying those products more interesting," Waterworth told BBC.

"So when you bring these two things together, the power of the TikTok community and the brands ... it's really exciting”.

TikTok already has power when it comes to purchasing decisions. #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt is a hashtag used when a consumer buys a product after seeing recommendations on the app. The hashtag has been used 7bn times.

Facebook and Instagram are already cashing in on social shopping – Instagram introduced Shopping a couple of years ago – a set of features that allow people to easily shop through a brand's photos and videos all across the app.

Watch: How do influencers make money from TikTok?

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