We only have to look to China for major trends around the future of ecommerce. Social platforms have been slowly bringing some of those key features over to the West.

Since the pandemic started, Facebook have been accelerating the roll out of its ecommerce functionality. Instagram Shop, Facebook Checkout, shopping ads and Live Shopping are helping brands connect and transact with consumers in one place.

Snap and Pinterest have also followed suit, creating their own integrated ecommerce ecosystems.

Research by ParcelHero found that 20% of UK consumers had bought via social media during lockdown and are forecasting that 11m people will have purchased a product after discovering the ad in social media.

Tik Tok is the latest social media platform looking to capitalise on the ecommerce boom, tipped to become the next big social commerce platform.

It has been rolling out key shopping features for a while, allowing users to add ecommerce links to their bios. It has also launched ‘Shop Now’ buttons for brands’ video ads and introduced ‘Hashtag Challenge Plus’, an ecommerce feature that allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored hashtag.

But TikTok’s biggest investment is through its recently announced partnership with Shopify. The deal aims to make it easier for Shopify’s over 1 million merchants to reach TikTok’s younger audience and drive sales.

Shopify merchants will be able to connect to TikTok for Business account and add a TikTok tracker to their store, then turn existing product imagery into videos for ‘shoppable ads’.  Merchants will be able to target their audiences across gender, age and user behaviours. Sales are completed on Shopify’s platform, so transaction and buyer data will stay with the retailer rather than TikTok.

TikTok’s decision to integrate with a third-party platform such as Shopify is probably due to concerns with its Beijing routes, in contrast with its parent company ByteDance’s approach in China.

So, what makes TikTok a major player?

Firstly, TikTok’s audience is typically younger than other social platforms. This creates an opportunity for brands hoping to access (and drive revenue from) younger audiences.

Social media is also increasingly being driven by visual experiences. Nowhere is this more evident than on TikTok, which specialises in rich and diverse short-form video content.

Ecommerce brands that capitalise on this opportunity can build large and engaged followings, and ultimately create a community around their products.

Taking inspiration from China, where younger audiences want to be entertained while they shop, and with live shopping predicted to double this year from $60bn in 2019, TikTok provides the perfect platform to capitalise on these new shopping behaviours.