- TikTok is testing a new shopping button feature that allows creators to link to Shopify and Teespring storefronts in their videos.
- The feature is still in beta, but should eventually help TikTok compete with other social apps like Instagram and YouTube that already offer in-video e-commerce tools.
- Business Insider spoke with creators who have been testing out the new feature to learn more about how it works.
- Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Insider Influencers.
TikTok wants to make it easier for its creators to make money.
Beyond paying users directly through its new Creator Fund (albeit at relatively low rates), the company recently introduced the ability for some users to add shopping buttons that link to e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Teespring in their videos. Users have been testing the feature in recent months, linking to storefronts for AllBirds and Steve Madden shoes, jewelry, a neck massager, a wok, and of course, their own merchandise.
The product release should help TikTok compete with other social apps like Instagram and YouTube that already offer in-video e-commerce tools like a "merch" shelf and the ability to tag products with shopping links. Digiday first reported that TikTok was testing a "shop now" button in April.
TikTok's new shopping button appears at the bottom left corner of a video where an "effect" label would normally show up. The button is only visible in-app, and won't show up in desktop or mobile web browsers.
The functionality is simple — it's essentially just a link — but it could help bolster merch and direct-to-consumer sales for TikTok's creators, a key source of income for influencers who have seen brand deals ebb and flow this year as influencer-marketing budgets have been slashed during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Giving creators the ability to have a trusted [link] that is directly within your post is very important," said Jess Crow, an artist and woodworker who recently began using TikTok shopping links to promote a new Teespring storefront for T-shirts and masks that feature her artwork. "It allows them to make some good money on a side hustle by having their products out there."
TikTok's shopping link feature only works with Teespring and Shopify, according to the company. The feature does not allow users to add links to unsupported websites (BusinessInsider.com was blocked, for example). The company has experimented with shoppable livestreams and shoppable ads in the past.
Teespring's CEO said its partnership with TikTok has drawn new interest in its merchandise and e-commerce tools from TikTokers. The company registered 900 new TikTok accounts on its platform in the first 24 hours after the integration was made public — a 13% increase.
Teespring would not say whether or not TikTok would receive a commission on sales that were driven through its shopping button integration. The company would also not confirm whether there were plans to expand beyond the current single "button" feature for e-commerce linking. Shopify did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
How TikTok's shopping links work
To add an e-commerce button to a TikTok video, a user selects "Add link" and chooses "Product" on the video publishing page.
A creator then enters the name of the product their promoting, which will appear on the shopping button in the video. They also add a product link from a Teespring or Shopify-supported website.
TikTok automatically adds a #sponsored hashtag to each post and requires users to select sounds from the "Promo" section of the app, meaning they are unable to use certain trending sounds when hyperlinking in videos.
Some beta users of the feature expressed concerns that adding a shopping link to a post hurt video performance when compared to non-promotional posts.
"If we were to post an original video with our everyday-style content, that will get picked up by the algorithm helping our video get exposure," said Sergio Rodriguez, a creator who has been using TikTok's new shopping feature to link to Teespring merchandise that he created with his twin brother. "For some reason, at least on our channel and in our experience, when we use the shop button in our videos to promote Teespring or other brand deals or ads or use the sponsored tab, the videos do not get pushed by the algorithm."
TikTok said its recommendation system relies on a variety of factors that are unique to each individual user when determining what videos they see. The company said it was still evaluating how users engage with e-commerce links, and should have a clearer idea on functionality and discoverability for these posts once the feature is fully rolled out.
For more stories on how creators are using TikTok to grow their businesses, check out these other Business Insider posts:
- How artists are using TikTok to drive thousands of dollars in sales and find new customers: TikTok has become a powerful new marketing tool for artists looking to drive sales on the e-commerce platform Etsy.
- TikTok influencers reveal how much money they're getting paid from its $1 billion Creator Fund — and it's pennies per thousand views: Three creators who qualified for the fund told Business Insider they're earning a few dollars for videos that generated tens of thousands of views.
- TikTok influencers reveal all the ways they're making money despite the app's limited monetization features: From selling direct-to-consumer products like merch to partnering with brands on sponsorships, there are a number of ways TikTokers are making money.
- TikTok influencers say they're making tens of thousands of dollars by promoting apps in videos: 'There's not really a limit on how much you can earn': Creators and marketers told Business Insider that they can earn tens of thousands of dollars from promoting an app in a single TikTok post.
- TikTok influencers are getting paid thousands of dollars to promote songs, as the app becomes a major force in the music industry: TikTok creators, talent managers, and music marketers shared how much influencers earn by promoting songs in videos on the app.
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