TikTok Shop became available across the US last week. The social video platform has a lot to gain in retail and ad revenues, but it risks facing the same challenges Meta has had with social commerce on Instagram—users’ reluctance to actually complete purchases in app. But with sister app Douyin setting the blueprint for TikTok’s social commerce endeavors, the platform isn’t starting from scratch. Here’s a look at TikTok’s social commerce strategy and potential in five charts.
TikTok will have 33.3 million US social buyers this year, according to our forecast. That’s less than Facebook (65.7 million) and Instagram (43.0) million. Both Facebook and TikTok have 37.0% of their users making a purchase on their respective platforms.
TikTok’s next challenge is to boost its total number of social buyers: by gaining users and by converting users into buyers.
Some 68% of Gen Z adults in the US are willing to make a purchase on TikTok, putting it in line with YouTube and just behind Instagram (71%), according to Jungle Scout. While that figure is promising, it’s another place where TikTok doesn’t yet stand out over Instagram. Instagram itself has struggled with making social commerce take off, and removed its own shopping tab at the start of this year.
But adult TikTok users already spend way more time on TikTok (54 minutes per day) than adult Instagram users do on Instagram (33 minutes per day), according to our forecast. And with so much content being posted to TikTok every day, there’s tons of potential for new listings. TikTok will need to turn engaged users into engaged spenders.
It’s wise of TikTok to invest in Shop, because US social ad spending is not growing as quickly as influencer marketing spending is, according to our forecast. That means the platform can’t rely on massive ad revenue growth (although TikTok’s ad revenues are still growing by double digits).
Shop listings and affiliate links provide TikTok with an opportunity to capitalize on influencer marketing by being a part of that transaction. And with over 100,000 creators already using TikTok Shop’s affiliate program, creators are clearly also interested in Shop features.
Mobile commerce (mcommerce) will account for close to half (49.8%) of US ecommerce sales in 2027, we forecast. When it comes to mcommerce, TikTok’s challenger isn’t just Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube—it’s also Amazon.
Fortunately, TikTok has built its own Amazon-style flywheel consisting of media, advertising, and commerce to compete with the retail giant. That will help TikTok in its quest for a greater share of the growing mcommerce market.
TikTok’s share of US video ad spending will be 6.5% this year, putting it below YouTube’s 8.3% and well below Meta’s 30.1% share. Total US video ad spending will reach $84.14 billion this year, and while TikTok’s share is increasing, the platform has a ways to go if it wants to get to Meta’s level.
Shop opens the potential for more ad spend as brands promote listings, but TikTok will first need to get brands comfortable with using the platform for commerce rather than moving users to their own channels.
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