Starting today, TikTok users in the US can buy stuff directly in the TikTok app as the company rolls out TikTok Shop, its online marketplace that’s already live in the UK. With this change, brands and creators alike can sell directly to you in their videos — and it may even be fulfilled by TikTok itself.
The change isn’t immediately obvious when you open the app, but now, when you search for something, a new Shop tab can show you related items. You may also notice certain videos now have a button labeled “Shop” just above an account’s name — tapping that will let you buy whatever it is the video is hawking. Whether this will be annoying is up in the air; so far, I’ve just seen videos peddling small electronic puzzles and a fancy salt shaker on my For You page.
Along with the marketplace, TikTok also has a shiny new affiliate program that will let creators get commissions on products they sell in both videos and livestreams without needing to work out deals outside of TikTok itself. Creators have been pushing products with varying degrees of obnoxiousness on us for years in social media videos, and one wonders if cutting out the extra steps could supercharge that. TikTok also has its own fulfillment centers, so products can be stored and shipped by the company itself, just like Amazon.
Bloomberg reported last week that users were seeing the new Shop tab in the app, hinting that a launch could be imminent. In fact, rumors that TikTok would soon unpack its new e-commerce Amazon alternative in the US have been rolling around for weeks now.
TikTok debuts in-app shopping even as government entities and schools throughout the US continue to ban the app over spying fears. But while it wrestles with increasing interest from regulators and politicians, it continues to churn out big money-making endeavors. Besides the shop, TikTok is pursuing other ambitions like book publishing, music streaming, and perhaps even messaging.