TikTok shopping: everything brands need to know

By Cristina Ferrandez

Social media companies like Instagram and Snapchat have already increased reach and revenue for businesses by socialising the customer experience. Now, TikTok is taking the trend one step further by integrating AR into their viral media content and TikTok shopping initiatives.

The company’s short-form visual media format has made it a crowd favourite among Gen Z users. Despite being easily influenced — over 80% of TikTok users are inspired by trending content to make a purchase – many people on TikTok don’t have other social media accounts. As many as 40% of TikTok users don’t have a Facebook account, and 63% don’t have a Twitter account. All this makes TikTok fertile ground for brands looking to reach new markets.

TikTok shopping 101

TikTok has followed up on its promise of turning advertising on its head by making the integration of social commerce features into their app a top priority. Here’s how brands of all types can take advantage of TikTok shopping features.

Actionable buttons for increased conversions

tiktok shopping
Levi’s was among the first brands to use TikTok’s “Show Now” button

Brands like Levi’s have seen their traffic and audience engagement rise significantly thanks to TikTok’s “Shop Now” buttons.

Far from being intrusive, these CTAs are tastefully weaved into influencers’ video content to drive conversions without sacrificing on user experience. If a user likes the product they see in a video, all they have to do is click on the “Shop Now” button to be brought directly to the brand’s e-commerce page.

The results speak for themselves: according to Levi’s, the watch time for these videos was twice the platform’s average.

tiktok shopping
Product links on TikTok

In September 2021, TikTok also launched a new feature—product links—which allows brands to shop products from their TikTok videos directly in the app.

Brands are now able to feature products within their organic TikTok videos and include links, so that viewers can click on the products and be directed to the relevant product pages. Once users click on the links, they are taken to a checkout page where they can buy those products, all within the TikTok app.

TikTok pixel: the best friend of brands looking to measure their success

tiktok shopping
A screenshot of a TikTok page where brands can create a pixel to track their ads

The way the TikTok pixel works is simple. Once a user visits a retailer’s page, the pixel will fire up and monitor their behaviour. By using the TikTok pixel, marketers can understand the viewers’ activity, monitor sales, and find the perfect audience for their products out of TikTok’s huge (100+ million) user base.

Brands can create fun, engaging ad campaigns using one of TikTok’s many video creative tools, and then use the TikTok pixel to understand the audience response and make the necessary updates. 

Livestreams that socialize the shopping experience

tiktok shopping
Walmart’s “Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular” livestream

Besides featuring branded ads, TikTok also allows retailers and influencers to partner together for livestream shopping events. In December of 2020, Walmart became the first major brand to use livestreams on TikTok. Their “Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular” allowed viewers to tap on products and instantly add them to their cart. The event was such a huge success that Walmart repeated it this year.

Although the idea of using livestreams to sell products isn’t new — Amazon has been holding livestreams since 2019 — TikTok’s massive user base and the viral nature of its content make Walmart’s livestreams more attractive than its competitor’s dry, corporate alternatives. 

Walmart is not the only company to broadcast a sale. Other major brands, like Nordstrom and Ntwrk, have also joined the livestream phenomenon as they look to catch up to a trend that has been successful for many years in Asia. 

More recently, TikTok has rolled out new in-app features, such as links to buy products and services shown during real-time livestreams.

TikTok shopping and augmented reality

Knowing how young and tech-savvy their audience is, TikTok has expanded its shopping features to include a range of sophisticated AR experiences. 

Whether it’s fun filters users feel compelled to share with their friends, Hashtag Challenges that bring people together around branded products, or the interactive experiences TikTok’s Branded Scan feature provides, TikTok users are discovering new ways of connecting with their favourite brands.

Try-on filters

tiktok shopping
TikTok users experimenting with the L’Oréal Colorista try-on filter (Source)

TikTokers love using face filters. As many as 64% of TikTok users have used 2D and 3D “try-on” lenses. Companies that deploy their own branded “try on” filters can boost their brand awareness and earn massive amounts of impressions overnight.

Such was the case with L’Oréal’s Colorista campaign developed by Poplar Studio. The campaign allowed users to use an augmented reality filter to see how they would look with a different hair colour and share their results with the #GoBoldColorista hashtag. The hashtag has received more than 2.9 billion views so far. 

Poplar Studio’s collaboration with Maybelline on its #LiftMyMood campaign (which has already received 2.9 billion views) raised the fun level even further by asking users to pout at their camera to change their lip gloss colour. 

Hashtag Challenges

Screenshot of Maybelline’s #LiftMyMood hashtag challenge page on TikTok
Screenshot of Maybelline’s #LiftMyMood hashtag challenge page on TikTok

TikTok’s Hashtag Challenges are changing the way we think of social media campaigns. Although hashtags date back to 2007, TikTok is repurposing them as a way of generating and sharing crowdsourced advertising. 

A Hashtag Challenge is a campaign that encourages users to create their own videos following a dance routine along to a song. Incorporating AR try-on into these can elevate them even further, by carving the routine around users trying on different products. For example, in the Maybelline campaign mentioned earlier, users tried on different shades of the Lifter Gloss as part of their video routine. They were able to alternate between shades by simply pouting, which made it into a way more fun experience.

When users take part in a branded Hashtag Challenge (i.e., when they take videos and share them with their followers using a particular hashtag), they are creating unique content that builds brand awareness from the ground up. Not with insincere, formulaic ads that viewers are dying to skip but with videos that are fresh and genuine — like the people who watch them.

Besides raking in impressions, Hashtag Challenges pages also feature “Shop Now” buttons that funnel users towards brands’ online shops and drive conversions.

Branded Scan

TikTok users will soon be able to use Branded Scan feature to immerse themselves in branded AR experience
TikTok users will soon be able to use Branded Scan feature to immerse themselves in branded AR experience

TikTok’s faith in AR has led it to co-developing its latest AR ad offering: Branded Scan. This new feature allows brands to create immersive AR experiences and share them with prospective customers. 

Depending on what the user scans — a flat image, a product logo, or a physical product — Branded Scan will trigger an AR experience that will either augment the product in question or overlay information on top of it. Brands will be able to combine the Branded Scan effect with Hashtag Challenges to increase brand engagement even further. 

How to get started with TikTok shopping

TikTok is planning on releasing new AR shopping features in the near future, so watch this space. In the meantime, why not go ahead and create your own branded AR effects on TikTok? In order to publish AR branded effects on TikTok, you’ll need to work with a TikTok partner to create the AR effects. A TikTok partner since 2020, Poplar Studio has access to TikTok’s EffectCreator software that allows it to create advanced AR effects, be it try-on filters or branded scans, in no time. Ready to get started building your AR effects? Reach out to us today.

Get started

Ready to get started with your first 3D or AR experience?
Submit your brief within minutes to start your AR or 3D journey!

Get started Get in touch