ByteDance officially launched its social commerce experience, “TikTok Shop,” in the US. It includes features such as a dedicated shop tab for searching products or browsing product categories, the ability for creators to tag products for purchase, an affiliate funnel for sellers, secure checkout, and brand product portfolios. So far, over 100,000 creators signed up for the affiliate program and over 200,000 sellers signed up for the shop (see Figure 1). This launch marks a test for TikTok to see if the app can translate its content graph that engrosses users into a viable commerce engine.


Figure 1: Easily Discover And Purchase Products Within TikTok

Image source: The Verge

Product Discovery On Social Media Paves A Path To Purchase

Even though we haven’t yet seen mass-adoption product buying on social media, product discovery is rampant. Forrester’s August 2023 Consumer Pulse Survey asked those who participated in back-to-school shopping this year about social commerce:

  • 57% discovered new products to buy on social media.
  • 52% purchased products they found on social media.
  • 46% bought directly from an ad they saw on social media.

Not to mention, for Gen Z youth, nearly half say that online influencers/creators are the primary way they discover new products or brands. While social media isn’t yet the preferred shopping destination in the US, it could be.

An Improved User Experience Will Close The Social Commerce Loop

Forrester previously said that US social commerce adoption is stunted by lack of trust in social media platforms. That’s part of the story, given that 47% of US online adults say they wouldn’t complete a purchase within a social network because they don’t trust them with their personal information. The second-highest reason is that consumers prefer to purchase directly from a retailer’s website after seeing an ad on social media. Why? Social shopping experiences are often fraught with problems, including out-of-sync inventory feeds, poorly maintained social storefronts, and unclear return policies. TikTok is changing this paradigm. One reporter said that the new TikTok Shop is “so easy to use [that] it’s actually dangerous.” If TikTok can improve the commerce experience, and make impulse buying easy, this creator-led social media platform is capable of closing the social commerce loop from discovery to purchase.

Commerce-Minded Marketers, Test Now

We’ve long talked about how social media is one of the few media categories that’s capable of connecting at every stage of the customer lifecycle (see Figure 2). It’s time to bring “Commit” fully to bear. Marketers looking to develop a “total commerce experience” should:

    1. Update infrastructure to support a social shopping experience (i.e., product catalogs).
    2. Test shoppable social media ads in preparation for the holiday shopping surge.
    3. Build out a creator affiliate program to bolster your social commerce execution.


Figure 2: Forrester’s Customer Lifecycle Framework For Social Media


Forrester clients, schedule a guidance session to discuss your social commerce strategy.