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Video made the e-commerce star, by Prism Digital’s Lovetto Nazareth

Prism Digital’s Lovetto Nazareth examines how TikTok is revolutionising the way e-commerce will be done.

The rise of TikTok is fascinating for a number of reasons. Who knew that the lip-syncing app Musical.ly would one day become the fastest growing social media platform in the world? With masses flocking to the platform, commoners and celebrities alike, TikTok is showing no signs of stopping any time soon.

A few years back, people would argue whether the boom in TikTok’s popularity was sustainable or not, but the fast-paced video-driven platform has captured the market like no other social media platform could do.

In the midst of its rapid growth and with a user penetration rate of 31 per cent in 2021, TikTok is no longer just a funky app for kids. It has become a money-making machine with unlimited opportunities for content creators and brands alike. A survey by Captiv8 revealed that more than two-thirds of brands plan to launch a TikTok influencer marketing campaign.

TikTok is now looking to venture into e-commerce as well, just like other social media platforms but with better aspirations and bigger prospects. Its recent partnership with Shopify to allow brands to sell directly through the app by giving them a shop-now option has been well received by its huge user base.

Now the question is whether TikTok actually has what it takes to become an e-commerce hub or not. To evaluate that, we’ll have to dig deeper into its algorithm, its interface, the audience base and its offerings as a full-fledged e-commerce app.

I believe the app has everything it takes to become a go-to e-commerce platform. In fact, I will go on to say that it has the potential to change the way e-commerce is done. The reason is that the typical e-commerce market is becoming overly saturated and people are showing signs of exasperation at being bombarded with well-knit advertising campaigns that they can’t actually connect with.

The raw video format that people connect with

Advertising campaigns are usually overly organised, showing perfection that people can’t relate to. However, it’s not the same with TikTok. Raw videos showing reality rule this platform and people are loving it. That’s why the connection between TikTok influencers and their followers is strong with a high level of trust.

This could prove to be a transforming factor for other platforms as well because this is what people want from brands: to show reality with honesty and clarity.

#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt

You must have heard about this popular hashtag. It speaks volumes about TikTok’s influence over users’ buying behaviour. It has garnered more than 4 billion views with people sharing what they bought after seeing it on TikTok, sharing their experiences and interacting with each other.

It is brewing a culture of interaction and collaboration, which in its true sense is the essence of the ‘traditional market’ that people loved. The market where people interacted, shared ideas, and made purchases. This concept was lost somewhere after contemporary commerce took over.

People want that shopping experience – also known as community commerce – back, and TikTok is offering exactly that. This would not only benefit TikTok in the long run but would force other platforms to amend their versions of the e-commerce experience.

The young and eager user base

60 per cent of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 to 20. That means TikTok is used by the generation that buys online the most. The platform managed to capture the segment of the market that is most active on social media and is more inclined to buy online.

This gives TikTok a huge advantage. Moreover, younger generations love video; no other visual format can showcase a product better than video, and TikTok is made for videos. The combination of all these factors makes TikTok a perfect e-commerce platform.

Seamless ads platform

People are fed up with traditional ads because ads are disruptive, manipulative and unnatural. However, TikTok has changed that to some extent as well. The ad platform on TikTok is so organically integrated with content that viewers don’t even notice that they’re seeing an ad till the very end.

TikTok ads are not about dragging people and forcing them to make a purchase. Ads on TikTok are so well merged with content that they become a part of the overall experience. This, as well, is soon going to affect other platforms as well because they will have to think of ways to make ads less disruptive and less annoying.

Augmented reality

TikTok is planning to incorporate augmented reality to allow people to virtually test out products before even making the purchase. This can be a game-changer because even after so many years of continuous online buying, people are still concerned about the quality of products while buying online, and augmented reality can be an answer to that.

Whether it is TikTok’s blending capabilities with other websites through APIs (application programming interfaces), in-stream shopping tools, seamless awareness to conversion loop, or TikTok’s live shopping feature, TikTok is doing everything to become the new e-commerce hub and is surely moving forward in the right direction.

By Lovetto Nazareth, Director Prism Digital

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