The Chinese-owned short video app TikTok is testing a new feature that could make all videos on the app “shoppable”, as it zeroes in on its target of becoming the internet’s one-stop shop for product discovery and shopping.
The new feature would automatically identify products featured in videos and prompt viewers to “explore similar items on TikTok Shop” by navigating to a separate product page. While the company has not released an official statement in response, a TikTok spokesperson confirmed the feature is currently in an early test phase. According to Bloomberg, influencers and brands would need to be approved by TikTok to add tagged products to their content.
The news comes just months after the launch of TikTok Shop in the US, a milestone that is estimated to have cost the company around 500 million USD in investment. TikTok has recently hiked seller fees and slashed incentives as it eyes the goal of 17.5 billion USD in sales in the US market this year.
Shoppable videos could turbocharge the scroll-to-purchase conversion rate on the app whilst maintaining the integrity of the current user experience. But the feature still has a long way to go before we will see it seamlessly embedded into video feeds. At present, its all-important ability to accurately identify products leaves much to be desired; a test viewed by Bloomberg identified press-on nails as a similar product in a video of a woman polishing stones.
Once brought up to snuff though, the feature has the potential to be rolled out across all videos on the app. What used to be a platform for entertainment and lifestyle inspiration is quickly becoming a shopping destination. How will users respond to this dramatic change in the core function of the platform?
If the current response to TikTok Shop in the US is anything to go by, not well. According to a Bloomberg report, users are concerned about the prevalence of counterfeit products on the platform and many find the volume of ad-like posts from content creators annoying. In its next growth phase, TikTok Shop may have to focus on building greater trust with the consumer.