TikTok continues to surge in popularity as one of the fastest-growing social media outlets, and many sellers and influencers are looking for ways to get in on the growing social commerce platform. With users able to purchase directly through the app, sellers need to understand TikTok Shop pros and cons. 

In 2023, 37% of TikTok users, totaling 55.5 million, indulged in purchases either via in-app links or directly through the platform. That number is expected to increase by 67% by 2026. Growing commerce businesses need to take advantage of this huge opportunity to tap into a growing user base while weighing understanding what it takes to be successful in TikTok Shop. 

What is TikTok Shop?

TikTok Shop is an innovative ecommerce feature within the popular social media app TikTok. Launched September 12, 2023, users can discover and purchase products directly through the app. 

This creates a seamless shopping experience by leveraging TikTok’s highly engaging video content. Brands and influencers can showcase their products in a dynamic and authentic manner, attracting more customers and increasing sales. 

The typical TikTok Shop audience consists of mainly younger demographics, a significant portion of which are Generation Z and Millennials. In fact, users aged 18 to 24 make up 36.7% of TikTok’s global audience. Meanwhile, users between 25 and 34 make up about 32.6%. 

These age groups value authenticity while being known for their digital fluency. They enjoy TikTok’s entertaining content and quick, painless buying experience. Like sellers, they’re savvy to TikTok Shop's pros and cons.

How to use TikTok for ecommerce to drive sales

Before you can start racking up sales, you need the proper setup for your business. Luckily, creating a TikTok Shop account is a straightforward process. To begin, follow these steps:

  1. Create a TikTok Business Account: In case you don’t already have one, sign up for a TikTok Business Account. You can do this by downloading the TikTok app, creating a new account, and switching to a business account in the settings. 

  2. Apply for a TikTok ecommerce store: Once you have a business account, navigate to the TikTok Shop application page. Fill out the necessary information, including business details, contact information, and product categories. Ensure all information is accurate to avoid delays in the approval process. 

  3. Provide Required Documentation: TikTok may need additional documents to verify your business and your identity. This can include business registration, tax identification, and other legal documents. 

  4. Agree to Terms and Conditions: Carefully read TikTok Shop’s terms and conditions. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to understand the guidelines and rules for selling on the platform. 

  5. Set Up Your Shop: Once your account is approved, it’s the fun part! Start adding your products to your online store using detailed descriptions, high-quality images, and relevant pricing. Make sure it’s also easy for users to navigate. 

  6. Link Payment Methods: To ensure you’re paid on time and correctly, link your preferred payment methods. TikTok supports various payment gateways, allowing for secure transactions. 

  7. Launch and Promote: Now that your shop is ready to go, start creating engaging content to promote your products! Utilize TikTok’s powerful visual tools, influencer and affiliate collaborations, hashtag challenges, and more. 

What can you sell on TikTok Shop?

TikTok Shop supports an impressive variety of shoppable products. While beauty and fashion are the most popular ecommerce brands, sellers can get creative and find their own unique niche and audience to drive sales. Some of the most commonly sold items include:

  1. Fashion and Accessories: Clothing, shoes, and accessories are popular categories, with fashion influencers often showcasing the latest trends.

  2. Beauty and Personal Care: Skincare products, makeup, hair care items, and other beauty essentials frequently feature their brand on TikTok Shop.

  3. Tech Gadgets: From smartphones to wearable tech and home gadgets, tech products find a significant audience on TikTok. 

  4. Home and Kitchen: Home decor, kitchen appliances, and organizational tools are popular, and creators often demonstrate how to use these products during live shopping experiences. 

  5. Fitness and Health: Exercise equipment, fitness apparel, supplements, and wellness products leverage TikTok’s fitness community. 

  6. Baby and Kids: Clothing, toys, educational products, and nursery items for babies and children often attract parents looking for high-quality and unique products. 

  7. Food and Beverages: Speciality foods, snacks, and beverages, often from small or artisanal brands, often sold with recipe books or cooking demonstration videos. 

  8. Arts and Crafts: Art supplies, DIY kits, and handmade items appeal to the creative community. 

  9. Books and Stationary: Books, planners, and other stationary items can be marketed effectively, especially through book reviews and aesthetically pleasing presentations. 

Prohibited products on TikTok Shop

While there are plenty of product options, TikTok has strict guidelines on what can and cannot be sold. Some of these include:

  1. Stolen Goods: Any products that are stolen, illegally obtained, or violate intellectual property. 

  2. Alcohol, Tobacco, and E-cigarettes: Any products related to alcohol, tobacco, and e-cigarettes.

  3. Hazardous Materials: Products that pose a safety risk, such as explosives, toxic substances, and other hazardous materials. 

  4. Adult Content and Services: Items that are sexually explicit or related to adult services.

  5. Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia: Any items associated with drug use, including drug paraphernalia and items that promote the consumption of illicit substances.

  6. Dietary Supplements with Unapproved Claims: Supplements that make unverified health claims or are banned by health authorities. 

  7. Firearms, Ammunition, and Weapons: Any guns, ammunition, or weapons that require a license or permit to sell. 

  8. Monetary Products and Financial Services: Financial products and services that enable the production of counterfeit currency or money laundering. 

Online sellers must regularly review TikTok Shop’s prohibited product policy for updates as the platform continues evolving. Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in account suspension or termination. 

Pros of Selling on TikTok Shop in 2024

When weighing TikTok Shop pros and cons, online sellers reap several benefits for using the ecommerce platform. These include: 

Reach New Audiences

TikTok contains a highly engaged and diverse user base, with millions of active users worldwide. Sellers can tap into this audience and showcase their products to a wide range of potential buyers. 

This benefits ecommerce businesses looking to increase their exposure and customer base. 

High Engagement Rates

TikTok is known for its high levels of user engagement. Users spend a lot of time watching, liking, sharing, and commenting on TikTok videos. 

This provides fertile ground for brands to connect with their audience in meaningful ways. High engagement rates translate to better exposure and higher chances of conversions. 

Creative Marketing Opportunities

By nature, TikTok allows for creative content, enabling sellers to market their products in innovative ways. 

Features like filters, effects, music, and duets offer unique marketing opportunities to create viral content. This creativity can help brands stand out and resonate more deeply with the TikTok community. Sellers can also use tools like TikTok ads to gain additional exposure.

Influencer Collaborations

TikTok features many influencers with large, dedicated followings. E-commerce businesses can collaborate with these influencers to amplify their brand’s reach and credibility. 

TikTok creators can create authentic and appealing content that showcases products in a relatable manner. This will lead to increased trust and sales from interested buyers. 

Seamless Shopping Experience

TikTok Shop provides a quick and smooth buying experience for consumers. Users can discover products through engaging videos or shop ads and purchase them without leaving the app. 

This streamlined process reduces friction in the customer journey, which leads to higher conversion rates. 

Cons of Selling on TikTok Shop

On the other side of TikTok pros and cons, brands also face potential drawbacks to selling on the platform. These include:

Algorithm Dependency

TikTok’s algorithm determines the visibility of content. Changes to the algorithm can unpredictably impact a seller’s reach and engagement. 

This reliance means brands may experience fluctuations in performance, making it difficult to maintain consistent sales and growth. 

High Competition Among Ecommerce Brands

TikTok’s popularity means the market is highly competitive. With millions of sellers vying for attention, standing out can be difficult. 

This means sellers need to put in significant effort when crafting unique, high-quality content to capture interest. This can lead to more time and resources being allocated to content creation. 

Content Creation Demands

Creative, engaging content can be a double-edged sword. While creative content offers opportunities for innovative marketing, it also requires continuous content generation. 

Sellers need to produce high-quality videos to remain relevant consistently. This can be resource-intensive, especially for smaller businesses with limited budgets and manpower.

Short-Lived Trends

Like most social media platforms, trends come and go. While this can provide sudden boosts in visibility and sales, it also means sales from trends can quickly fade. 

This makes it difficult for sellers to maintain momentum and exposure. Brands need to stay agile to keep up with the constantly evolving landscape.

Complex Policies

TikTok Shop’s policies can be complex for sellers new to the platform. Sellers must ensure they adhere to the platform’s guidelines, especially the sale of prohibited products. 

Non-compliance can result in penalties or the removal of listings, adding a layer of risk for online sellers. 

Tips for Selling on TikTok Shop

After reviewing TikTok Shop pros and cons, you’re ready to start marketing your products. A few helpful tips include:

Leverage Creative Content

Use TikTok and its various video creation tools to produce visually appealing and entertaining videos. 

Demonstrations, tutorials, user-generated content, and behind-the-scenes looks can help people connect with your products. Make use of TikTok trends and challenges for further engagement. 

Collaborate with Content Creators

Don’t underestimate the power of influencers. Identify those who align with your brand value and target audience. 

Influencers’ followers can help amplify your reach, as they’ll be more likely to trust recommendations from someone they follow directly. Content creators can also help create authentic, relatable content that will resonate with your niche audience.

Utilize Hashtags and Challenges

Hashtags and challenges are integral to TikTok’s ecosystem. Create unique and catchy hashtags for your brand to make it easier for users to find you. 

Participate in challenges or develop your own to encourage user participation and content creation. This can increase your visibility and foster a community around your products.

Optimize Product Listings

Ensure your product listings on TikTok Shop are detailed and well-optimized. Use high-quality images along with concise and informative descriptions. 

Clear product information helps build trust with potential customers and makes purchasing decisions easier. 

Ensure Your Products aren’t Prohibited

Carefully read through TikTok Shop’s prohibited products policy, which includes counterfeit goods, hazardous materials, and weapons. 

Additionally, online sellers should implement a comprehensive vetting process for new products. This can involve conducting research and obtaining necessary copyright and trademark compliance documents.

Engage with Your Audience

Brands thrive in ecommerce on TikTok when they engage with their audience. Respond to comments on videos, answer questions promptly, and consider going live to interact with them directly. 

Users love it when the brands they follow talk to them. This personal touch can enhance customer loyalty and encourage repeat purchases. 

Monitor Performance and Adapt

Regularly monitor the performance of your TikTok Shop. Analyze metrics such as views, likes, shares, and conversion rates to understand what works best. 

Use these insights to refine your content strategy, optimize product listings, and make data-driven decisions to improve your shop’s performance.

Reduce manual inventory management tasks with automation

Between product compliance and content creation, TikTok Shop sellers have a lot on their plate. With so much to juggle, keeping up with inventory management can be difficult. Running out of stock and overselling can lead to unhappy customers and negative reviews. 

Automation helps online sellers keep their inventory quantities updated to avoid stockouts and overselling. Ecommerce owners can:

  • Sync inventory across channels and QuickBooks

  • Customize stock quantities for each sales channel

  • Automatically create purchase orders to prevent stockouts

In addition, sellers can set pricing rules that fit their individual strategies. With automation, online sellers can spend more time for creativity and less time on manual data entry.