TikTok partners with Shopify to offer ecommerce service

What’s happening? TikTok has partnered with Shopify to enable merchants to advertise and sell goods through the popular social media site. The feature will initially roll out in the US, before expanding to Europe and Asia next year. Brands must create a TikTok for Business account before posting shoppable ads, while TikTok users can complete purchases via Shopify pages, with the latter’s merchants retaining transaction and buyer data. Shopify saw a near 100% increase in Q2 2020 sales, overtaking eBay for the first time.

Why does this matter? While TikTok’s future in the US may still be clouded by uncertainty, the partnership with Shopify shows the continuation of a trend with social media platforms increasingly upping their mobile commerce efforts. This is an area that could be expected to grow further – 90% of consumers claim to buy from brands they follow on social media.

Shopify partners with over one million merchants across 175 countries, positioning the firm as among the world’s largest online retailers. The TikTok collaboration opens Shopify’s merchants to a substantial number of potential customers as the social media platform has roughly 100 million active monthly users in the US alone.

However, one issue that may need to be addressed is problematic content on the platform – such as hate speech – which could present Shopify’s merchants with new considerations.

We have previously discussed the boycotting of Facebook by big brands over the company’s lack of action regarding harmful content, demonstrating there is a reputational risk for businesses promoting themselves via social media. Consumers are demanding stronger stances on societal issues from big brands with 68% in the US wanting a clearer picture on values and purchases are becoming more dependent on whether a company aligns with consumer beliefs.

Against this backdrop, a greater focus is being applied on how harmful content can be restricted on social media sites. Pinterest, for example, has installed machine learning to identify this content, enabling the platform to reduce the number of reported incidents by 88%. It’s worth pointing out that the company also has a partnership with Shopify, which it established this year, and which has shown initial success. TikTok has also expanded its hate speech policy.

It is perhaps worth keeping tabs on whether merchants are willing to continue to sell through social media if issues of problematic content can’t be quashed.

Lateral thought from Curation – Collaborating with Shopify may help social media platforms benefit from ecommerce without taking on the burden of the carbon footprint associated with such operations.

Because Shopify connects to third-party vendors, social media platforms can act as a retail portal without the need to look after warehousing, shipping and last-mile delivery logistics, all of which have a considerable environmental footprint. This could, however, be seen as a risk on the horizon for social media platforms if one day they are mandated to take responsibility for their contribution to these operations in the form of scope 3 emissions.

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