Short-video app TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has officially launched its e-commerce service — TikTok Shop — in the United States after months of testing amid a broader push to cultivate tech-savvy young consumers and diversify revenue sources.
The Shop Tab, where products from TikTok's marketplace are listed, is now available for 40 percent of users on the app's home screen. The feature will be rolled out gradually until being available for the app's 150 million US users by early October, TikTok said.
TikTok Shop allows users to find and directly purchase products used in livestreaming and short videos. More than 200,000 sellers have registered for the e-commerce service.
"TikTok Shop will now bring shoppable videos and livestreams directly to For You feeds across the country — and give brands, merchants and creators the tools to sell directly through shoppable content on the TikTok app," the company said on its website.
For content creators, the feature could bring new streams of income by connecting them with brands for commission-based marketing partnerships. TikTok is also offering "Fulfilled by TikTok", a program that handles all logistics for sellers, including storage, packing and shipping, it added.
In 2021, TikTok began rolling out its e-commerce service in Indonesia, followed by the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Zhang Zhouping, a senior analyst covering business-to-business and cross-border activities at the Internet Economy Institute, a domestic consultancy, said the US e-commerce market is mature and serves as an important site for Chinese online retailers to expand their global footprint.
"As a short-video platform, TikTok has huge data flows, which lays a solid foundation for the platform to get involved in cross-border e-commerce. However, it needs to strengthen the construction of supply chains."
Moreover, TikTok will face intense competition from established players in overseas markets such as Amazon and AliExpress, the latter being a cross-border online retail platform owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Zhang said, adding that platforms that can provide good shopping experiences and services will gain the upper hand in the competition.
TikTok's push into the e-commerce segment comes as other Chinese cross-border online shopping platforms are ratcheting up efforts to expand their presence in overseas markets.
Fast-fashion online retailer Shein has announced a further expansion of its product categories through collaborations with select global brands and third-party sellers, to fulfill its customers' increasing demand for diversified products.
The company will officially launch an integrated marketplace in Mexico, following Brazil and the US, that offers products from third-party sellers alongside Shein's own products.