Key Points

  • TikTok’s sister app, Douyin, is generating big live shopping sales in China
  • TikTok’s live stream functionality is being enhanced to accommodate increased live shopping opportunities for brands and creators
  • U.S. brands and creators are looking for opportunities to collaborate

Let’s Level Set When it Comes to Live Shopping

TikTok has impressed us consistently with lots of opportunities for creator monetization and brand reach, and now they’re poised to be one of the top hosting platforms for live stream shopping. We’ve previously talked about live shopping and the importance of getting on board right now in order to get ahead of the inevitable boom. But let’s take it back for a moment. 

You may have heard terms like live shopping, live e-commerce, social media shopping, digital shopping, social commerce, and more describing essentially the same thing. Here’s what we’re talking about: live shopping is a marketing strategy that involves brands selling their products and services via a social media platform’s live broadcast functions. By experimenting and adopting social commerce tactics early on, brands will be able to gain a competitive advantage before this strategy becomes more of the norm in the United States. 


China’s Shopping Trends Are Our Future

Trust us – it’s not as far off as you think. If global patterns are anything to go by, experts at McKinsey Digital estimate that live stream shopping “​​could account for as much as 10 to 20 percent of all e-commerce by 2026.” And when it comes to anticipating trends, China’s digital shopping developments are pretty indicative of what’s to come. 

Douyin, which is essentially the TikTok of China, has over 600 million users and has a promising future when it comes to live shopping advances. Its developments are well-attuned to consumer habits and functionality-wise, it is well ahead of TikTok. Plus, the number of users running live shopping broadcasts has hit 384 million people – which is over half of Douyin’s current user base, a number that has increased 25.2% year-over-year (YOY) in 2021.

China’s digital shopping trends are worth paying attention to as other nations adapt their comparable tech and follow in Douyin’s footsteps. That’s why experimentation now, especially alongside creator partners, will help brands level up before they get left behind. But just because Douyin is TikTok’s tech inspo, does that mean that TikTok is the natural live shopping successor in the United States? 

It just might be – but the competition is fierce. According to one of Mavrck’s recent creator surveys, 47% of respondents said that Instagram is their go-to platform to launch shoppable live streams. In contrast, only 9% of respondents say that they use TikTok for live stream shopping content. But just because TikTok is behind now doesn’t mean that’s where they’ll stay. 


TikTok’s Existing Capabilities

What does TikTok have available now to help brands and creators run a successful live stream experience to capture their audiences? 

For one, they have a highly functional TikTok Shopping suite of tools, which is always undergoing user experience upgrades. Within the shopping suite, merchants (which include both brands and creators) can host live shopping sessions. In this tool, merchants can integrate products from their content catalogs directly into the live stream for a direct tap-to-purchase experience.

When it comes to in-feed videos, there’s still robust shoppable content out there that is as simple as it is effective. With product links that can point to external shopping pages or digital storefronts, there’s an additional layer of shoppable content that can reach consumers even if they miss the live broadcast itself. 

In addition, TikTok’s paid ads help brands direct their shoppers to a quick-loading purchase page via Collection Ads. Plus, Dynamic Showcase Ads (DSAs) help brands auto-promote personalized, granular ads that help shoppers make quick, streamlined purchases.

If there’s anything we can consistently anticipate from TikTok, it’s a commitment to always growing its third-party partnerships. Shopify, Square, Ecwid, and PrestaShop all have built-in capabilities within TikTok that prioritize e-commerce capabilities. 

According to TikTok, its #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag has over 6.6 billion views associated with product-driven content, which showcases the buying power of the TikTok community. But as live shopping becomes more prevalent, TikTok is poised to expand its API to other platforms to make social commerce capabilities more accessible and a bigger threat to its competition. 

TikTok is notorious for honing in on its weaker points and making efforts to improve them. They’ve revamped their algorithm to provide a better user experience. They’ve enhanced their analytics options, launched a creator fund, improved their creator marketplace, developed education tools, and have taken strides to embrace the metaverse. Live shopping is just a small slice of the big TikTok pie, and they’re going to make sure they’re the leader in whatever they set their eyes on. 


Creators On Board

We’ve established that broadly, live shopping is coming for our wallets. But how do creators fit into that future? According to one of Mavrck’s recent creator surveys, 23% of respondents say they’ve never had the opportunity to participate in a live stream partnership with a brand before. Not surprising, as the experimentation phase is still in motion. Despite this, there’s plenty of opportunity and interest, with 67% of respondents saying that they’d be open to a shoppable live stream collab with a brand. 

When it comes to creator participation, there are lots of creative ways to get influencers involved. One of the most popular methods is to bring a creator on to host or co-host the shoppable live stream. Others tease guest appearances by creators to generate interest. Some creators host the live stream on their own channel; others do a takeover of a brand’s owned social channels instead. 

Not only are live streams and creator collaborations great for brands, but consumers embrace the benefits as well. Research suggests that when prospective shoppers are able to see a product demonstrated by someone they trust on a live stream, which plays into the concept of social proof, they are 50% less likely to return their purchase compared to traditional e-commerce purchases. 

Finally, consider this: with TikTok’s latest trends report speaking to both co-creation power and live shopping innovations, we’re anticipating a big influx in creator-brand collaboration in this space. We’re looking forward to seeing how brands will enlist creators or brand ambassadors to become key players in their live shopping strategy. Producing promotional content in addition to hosting live streams that plug product links into their broadcasts could become a lucrative layer of creator contracts.


We’re Not Slowing Down

During this time of emerging live shopping enhancements, pay attention to the brands that are taking the plunge into this world. Early adopters are gaining expertise, insights, and best practices ahead of a major boom. With brands and creators poised to partner together now more than ever, timely innovation is going to be the key to brand domination. 

If you’re interested in growing your expertise around live shopping and hearing what the experts are up to, we have just the opportunity for you. Join Mavrck, Dash Hudson, and Bliss on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, for an impactful webinar about The Future of Brand Marketing: Social Commerce and Entertainment. We’ve got a fascinating panel of experts ready to drop some knowledge! Register here


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