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March 10, 2021

How To Sell on TikTok: A Guide for Ecommerce Sellers

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This blog post was originally published by Deliverr, which is now Flexport. The content has been adjusted to fit the Flexport brand voice and tone, but all other information remains unchanged. With the merging of Deliverr’s services (DTC fulfillment, B2B distribution, and Last Mile delivery) into Flexport’s existing international freight and technology services, we’re now able to provide merchants with true end-to-end logistics solutions spanning from the factory floor to the customer’s door.

TikTok is officially taking on Facebook and Instagram for eCommerce — with news of a new feature that enables you to promote, link to, and sell products on the social media app.

Known for its addictive video feed and viral content, TikTok can significantly increase your brand reach while multiplying your conversion rates.

And, since selling on TikTok is an entirely new concept, you can establish your presence on the platform before your competitors do.

What Is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media app where users post and share short videos of up to 60 seconds in length. Popular TikTok content spans dance routines, cooking hacks, product tutorials, vlogs, and lip-syncs.

TikTok users can post content, follow other users, search for content, and like, share, and comment on videos.

The social media app boasts pretty impressive user statistics, including:

Who are these users? The typical TikToker is between 16 and 24 years old (41%), but adult usage of the platform is increasing. In less than 18 months, the number of US adult TikTok users grew 5.5 times.

TikTok is an attractive, opportunity-rich platform for anyone looking to reach new audiences and increase brand awareness.

Can You Sell on TikTok?

The growth of TikTok has naturally attracted brand interest, and TikTok has responded accordingly by developing the platform and adding features for businesses.

The key milestones in TikTok’s journey into eCommerce include:

Bio Links and Shoppable Videos

In November 2019, TikTok began testing links in bios and videos, allowing users to direct viewers to their website.

Teespring Partnership

In September 2020, TikTok announced a partnership with the custom apparel platform Teespring. The partnership allows creators to create custom merchandise to sell directly through TikTok.

Small Gestures

In April 2021, TikTok released the Small Gestures feature, which allows users to send free, virtual gifts from a range of brand partners.

Shopify Partnership

In October 2020, TikTok announced a partnership with the eCommerce platform Shopify. Shopify merchants can create, run, and analyze TikTok content directly from their seller dashboard.

Walmart Partnership

In December 2020, TikTok revealed a partnership with Walmart. TikTok users could purchase products featured in a Walmart livestream without leaving the app.

TikTok Shop

And, in its most significant announcement yet, TikTok has briefed businesses on four new eCommerce integrations and tools coming soon:

  • Sales commission: A tool that allows popular users to share products and earn a commission on sales.
  • Product catalogs: The ability to showcase product catalogs on the Shop tab of a profile page
  • Live-streamed shopping: The ability to shop livestream videos without leaving the platform.
  • TikTok Seller University: An educational platform to teach sellers how to utilize TikTok for eCommerce.

How To Sell and Promote Products on TikTok

The answer to “can you sell on TikTok?” is a resounding yes. The timeline above shows that TikTok knows eCommerce is a valuable feature for any community, and is making it easier for users to discover and purchase products on the app.

Currently, there are four ways to sell and promote products on TikTok:

1. Create Content

To sell on TikTok, you need to be on TikTok.

Create a TikTok account for your brand and start devising a content strategy that sees you fill your channel with highly engaging videos that attract followers, shares, likes, and comments.

The TikTok algorithm recommends content based on a user’s previous interaction with the platform, your video information (such as hashtags and captions), and their device/account settings.

For example, a user who regularly likes and comments on 60-second makeup tutorials by American influencers will see vastly different content from someone who shares 10-second dance hashtag challenges (more on these later).

The best practices for creating branded content on TikTok are:

  • Targeting your niche: What videos do your ideal customers watch and create?
  • Being original: TikTok is an entertainment app, so your videos must be engaging
  • Using relevant hashtags: #amazonfinds is a great one for eCommerce sellers

Examples of brands smashing their content on TikTok are:

GymShark capitalizes on the latest TikTok choreography challenges by using them to showcase different products in the same video

Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown uses skincare and makeup routine tutorials to educate customers while demonstrating products.

Tip: Don’t forget to add a link to your store in your bio.

2. Create a TikTok Shop

The TikTok Shop is where you can customize your profile to feature a catalog of products and add shoppable tags to your livestream videos; it’s where you can sell directly within TikTok.

Here’s how to create your TikTok Shop:

Join the TikTok Shop
Join the TikTok Shop through the Seller Center and complete the registration process, which includes:

  • Basic information about yourself
  • Business information about your store
  • Verification documents (such as business registration information)

TikTok will review your application before verifying your account.

Set up your shop profile
Once verified, set up your shop profile via the Seller Center, including listing products, running promotions, and adding users.

When listing a product to your TikTok catalog, you must include:

  • An accurate and concise product title
  • A well-written product description
  • The product category
  • Brand name
  • High-quality images and videos
  • Information about “what’s in the box”
  • Package weight and dimensions
  • Selling attributes (such as size, color, pattern)
  • Product price

Meet TikTok’s fulfillment requirements
Once you generate orders via TikTok, you must dispatch orders within five calendar days to avoid penalties.

However, nothing is stopping you from shipping sooner, and if you want to stand out from other sellers on the platform, fast delivery speeds are a must.

3. Sell Through TikTok Affiliate

TikTok Affiliate is a way to sell products on the app using TikTok creators to promote them for you. You pay a commission per product sold. This has benefits of:

  • Reaching a wider audience
  • Showing social proof
  • Creating more trust in your products and brand

To sell through TikTok Affiliate, upload your products to the Seller Center, set your promotion plans, and use the collaborate tool to find the best influencers for your products.

Note: It’s a common misconception that to be considered a TikTok influencer you need 100,000+ followers. However, it’s essential to look for quality over quantity, choosing creators who are respected in your niche and generate high audience engagement (likes, comments, and shares).

4. Advertise on TikTok

TikTok also has an effective advertising platform for generating brand awareness, clicks, and conversions.

There are four main types of TikTok ads available to eCommerce sellers:

  • In-feed native ads: Images, gifs, and videos that appear before a user-created video is shown (much like the ads on YouTube) 
  • Brand takeovers: Images, gifs, and videos that appear when users open the app (restricted to one brand per category, per country, per day) 
  • Hashtag challenges: A hashtag that challenges the TikTok community to create videos and mark them with the branded hashtag (e.g., E.L.F’s #EyesLipsFace challenge) 
  • Branded lenses: An augmented reality filter that users can apply to their videos (similar to a Snapchat filter)

To start your TikTok ads, head to the Ads Manager and create a campaign that details the aim, audience, length, budget, and content.

The key takeaway from this blog is that you can and should sell on TikTok if that’s where your audience hangs out online. And if they are, get ahead now.

The contents of this blog are made available for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any legal, business, or financial decisions. We do not guarantee, represent, or warrant the accuracy or reliability of any of the contents of this blog because they are based on Flexport’s current beliefs, expectations, and assumptions, about which there can be no assurance due to various anticipated and unanticipated events that may occur. This blog has been prepared to the best of Flexport’s knowledge and research; however, the information presented in this blog herein may not reflect the most current regulatory or industry developments. Neither Flexport nor its advisors or affiliates shall be liable for any losses that arise in any way due to the reliance on the contents contained in this blog.

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