21 August 2023

TikTok for Ecommerce: How To Convert Fans to Customers

TikTok has seen explosive growth in recent years. It has not only become a destination for fun hashtag challenges and viral music trends, it also offers brands the opportunity to attract customers using TikTok for ecommerce.


Brands are recognizing how important it is to jump on this exploding global trend. That’s because no other social media platform has the level of engagement that TikTok earns from its users. Whether you’re a business owner selling your own products, an influencer monetizing your personal brand, or an affiliate entrepreneur partnering with businesses, TikTok is worth the investment.


In this guide, we’ll look at why you should consider TikTok for your ecommerce brand, along with tips to make the most of your presence on the platform and real examples of businesses winning on TikTok.

Why should you use TikTok for ecommerce?

TikTok is part of a larger trend of retail social commerce, an industry expected to reach $80 billion in the US by 2025. While this industry was growing on its own, TikTok has made a unique and significant contribution. This is especially because of the natural tendency of its users to engage in social shopping.


Take for example the viral hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. Since its birth, the hashtag has generated 60 billion views (as of the time of this writing)—and it’s used by consumers, partners, and brands to discover new products and jump on hot trends.

Benefits of TikTok for business

Part of its success is that TikTok harmonizes a few key elements that make it stand out from other social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat:


  1. Video content that’s short, snappy, and bingeable (though longer videos have also been introduced with success)
  2. A fun, lighthearted, authentic, and sometimes “messy” feel that isn’t overproduced and doesn’t have a salesy undertone
  3. A huge emphasis on trends, adding to its cultural relevance
  4. Appeals to a broad demographic. While Gen Z makes up the majority of TikTok users, other demographics are also increasingly becoming users of the platform.


Attracting TikTok users to retail stores

TikTok has made its mark on brick-and-mortar businesses too. For example, Indigo Books and Music, one of the largest bookstores in Canada, says that TikTok helped generate a “new demand lifecycle.” The company even included TikTok in a quarterly earnings report.


You can find versions of an “As Seen on TikTok” section in several big retailers, like Ulta, Barnes & Noble, and Trader Joe’s.


Another example is ice cream artist Dylan Lemay. His account originally started with videos of him throwing perfect scoops at his Cold Stone Creamery job. After Dylan saw some success, he started traveling and working in ice cream shops around the country. Now, he has more than 11 million followers—and opened his own retail ice cream shop in summer 2022.

7 ways to grow your audience and increase sales with TikTok

  1. Lead with entertainment, not a sales pitch
  2. Strive for virality
  3. Set up TikTok Shop to sell directly to fans
  4. Engage your community through TikTok’s special features
  5. Partner with influencers in your industry
  6. Get more traction with TikTok ads or promoted posts
  7. Use affiliate links to promote products and partners

Now that you know how incredible TikTok can be for brands, it’s time to get your hands dirty. These tips will help you build a TikTok ecommerce strategy, start creating content, reach your target audience, and publish TikTok videos that convert.

1. Lead with entertainment, not a sales pitch

Don’t just repurpose all your boring marketing content to TikTok. This is a unique social media platform with a certain “personality” to its posts. Even if you’re regularly churning out content for other channels, take some time to get to know the platform’s quirks and trends.


Dig deep into what your peers, competitors, and potential customers are looking at and talking about. Stay on top of what’s trending, including memes and popular hashtag challenges. And remember: Have fun with it. TikTokers log in to learn, explore, and discover—but above all else, they want to be entertained.


The more fun and engaging your content, the more likely you are to hit glorious viral TikTok status with one or more of your posts. If your brand voice permits, get silly with it. Consider the brand Habit. Among other fun strategies, Habit likes to make meme videos using its products as the stars. This one is inspired by a trending TikTok sound from the Netflix series Inventing Anna.

2. Strive for virality

Let’s be real. The ultimate goal here is to create viral content that makes it across the globe and garners attention for your brand. Generally speaking, a surge of attention almost always equates to a surge in sales—whether it’s a quick, temporary pop or a sustained boost in your numbers.


If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to go viral thanks to some coveted user-generated content (UCG). This is where a user creates content that includes your brand or products. You can encourage customers to post UGC with incentives like discounts and other perks.


A great example of UGC is the story of catnip product Cat Crack: a video a user posted of their cat going crazy over the product gained more than 20 million views. After the viral moment Cat Crack sales jumped from 510 units on January 10, 2021 to 2,673 units two days later.

3. Set up TikTok Shop to sell directly to fans

If you run an online store, consider adding TikTok as a sales channel. Many social media platforms offer ecommerce features, and TikTok is no exception. As a business account, you can apply to TikTok Shop and get features like a shopping tab on your profile, live shopping, and paid advertising.


Creating video shopping ads lets you insert product links directly into engaging content. This makes it an effective ecommerce tool. Your ecommerce brand benefits from setting up a TikTok store because of the way the social media platform has become a destination for product discovery and the genesis of trending products.

4. Use TikTok features to connect with potential customers

TikTok has several features that create a direct communication channel with your viewers to learn more about them and build more meaningful connections.


One of them is the Q&A feature, which allows your audience to ask you questions directly through your profile, in the comment section of a video, or during a TikTok LIVE. Try having users ask you questions about you, your brand, and specific products you offer or promote.


Two other community-building features are Sitch and Duet. Stitch lets you “stitch” another user’s video into yours. Duet plays another user’s video next to yours in split-screen format. These tools have great viral potential. For example, sports brand Puma used Duet to feature another user’s viral TikTok fail. Puma then created a TikTok challenge to make their own Puma latte art while riding the wave of a viral video.

5. Partner with influencers in your industry

Like any other social platform, TikTok influencer marketing can be a boon for your ecommerce store. While there are thousands of creators ready to work with brands, make sure the influencers you choose—and the audiences that follow them—are aligned with your products. This will ensure that the sponsored content feels authentic.


A great place to start is TikTok’s Creator Marketplace. It’s a “matchmaking service” to help brands find the right influencers. Since this tool was developed exactly with this purpose in mind, you’ll find helpful features like creator discovery, campaign management, and reporting. There are a number of other marketplaces to find and connect with influencers, including Shopify Collabs.


There are plenty of ways to partner with an influencer, such as:


  1. Have them create and post TikTok videos that include them using, promoting, and/or reviewing your products
  2. Invite them to host a contest or giveaway featuring your products as the prize
  3. Let them do a “takeover” of your brand’s account for a day or week make sure you take safety precautions and choose an influencer you can trust)
  4. Ask them to push their audience to your TikTok storefront
  5. Compensate them with free products, affiliate commissions, and/or a more straightforward cash-per-post arrangement

6. Get more traction with TikTok ads or promoted posts

Creating organic marketing content and building your following this way can be a lot of work. If you have extra budget and you’d like a boost to help reach your goals faster, TikTok ads or promoted posts are great options.


TikTok ads work much like ads on other social media platforms. Using the Shopify TikTok app, you create campaigns with specific objectives, then build your ads within them. Once the ads are live, use the dashboard in Shopify to track their performance and optimize.


If you don’t want to invest in full ad campaigns, you can promote individual posts. The Promote feature is fairly straightforward. Choose your budget and duration, as well as a few other settings, including whether you’re interested in getting more views, website visits, or followers.

7. Use affiliate links to promote products and brands

Creating an affiliate program can help you spread the word about your brand on TikTok by allowing other TikTok users to promote your products and earn a commission on sales.


On the other end of the spectrum, affiliate marketing is a great way for those without a dedicated brand to earn some income while promoting your favorite products and businesses.


TikTok ecommerce examples from successful brands

Need some inspiration from the pros? Here are three examples of ecommerce businesses that are killing it with TikTok marketing and generating sales from the video-sharing social network.

Contour Cube

This ecommerce phenomenon is also helping brands get noticed. Sarah Forrai, the founder of Contour Cube, embraced TikTok to build awareness of and sell her face-contouring products. The brand’s TikTok account has grown to nearly 200,000 followers and more than 2.9 million likes across all its videos.


“We’ve been lucky with a number of videos reaching large audiences between one million to seven million views,” says Forrai. “This has driven a huge amount of traffic to our website and helped grow our online community.” Within three months of launching its product on TikTok, Contour Cube was approached by large retailers and found distribution partners, and is now stocked at THE ICONIC, Uncommon Goods, and Dolls Kill.


“Launching on TikTok catapulted Contour Cube into the mainstream, and for us, we were truly surprised by the huge engagement from what we thought was a niche idea,” says Forrai. “TikTok has since become our primary marketing platform, accumulating over 30 million views to date, which is amazing for a startup like us.”

Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe takes a different approach to TikTok ecommerce. The Korean natural skin care brand uses a link-in-bio tool to send its followers to a curated collection of all its content.


This collection includes shoppable links for the products featured in Glow Recipe’s videos, so its followers can buy items directly on its website, as well as access other important links for its business.

Glow Recipe also takes advantage of the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt trend, which has become a popular marketing tool for businesses promoting products and services. This simple hashtag gives social validation to users who are deciding if they’re ready to make a purchase.


Challenges are one of the biggest trends on TikTok, with many brands using them to earn UGC and build a reputation with the TikTok community.


One of those brands is GymShark, a fitness apparel, and accessories retailer that creates unique hashtag challenges that are in line with its aspirational workout-focused content.


Its #gymshark66 challenge, which asked users to transform their body within 66 days for a chance to win a free year’s supply of GymShark goods, garnered over 45.5 million views, 1.9 million likes, and 12,500 comments.


Naturally, the entries also included participants who regularly wear GymShark apparel. These entries gave exposure to the brand’s products and helped maximize its credibility and sales.

Now is the time to step up your TikTok ecommerce game

A social commerce revolution is happening, and TikTokers have a front-row seat. As you’re creating content for your TikTok videos, have a strategy in place to maximize the results and drive more traffic to your site and convert fans into buyers.


Create fun, timely, and relevant content. Build relationships with your audience and key influencers. Explore TikTok’s helpful tools and features. If you can entertain and connect with your potential customers, you’re already paving your path to growth.