TikTok and Shopify, the e-commerce platform, said on Tuesday that they were working together to add the ability for consumers to shop directly in the TikTok app for the first time.
TikTok has largely been known as a video app that provides entertainment and memes. Users have not been able to buy products directly in the app, even though TikTok features many influencers who often talk up clothing, makeup and household products. Instead, users have only been able to buy goods on TikTok through ads on the app.
But under the new partnership, Shopify merchants that participate in a pilot program will be able to add a shopping tab to their profiles and link to products within TikTok posts. Shopify said it expected to expand the feature to all of its merchants this fall.
TikTok joins Instagram and Facebook in offering in-app shopping, part of a larger shift toward what is known as social commerce — buying products directly within a social media platform — as creators seek out new ways to make money from their audience.
“Social commerce is important because it’s the new town square” where consumers go to find and buy new products, Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s president, said in an interview.
The move into in-app shopping reflects how people already use the app to find products, said Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s president of global business solutions. The app has inspired two-thirds of users to shop even when they weren’t planning to do so, according to a survey that TikTok conducted in the fall with the London market researcher Walnut Unlimited. The hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit has 4.6 billion views.
One of the merchants that is part of the new pilot program is Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Jenner’s makeup and skin-care brand, which has two million followers on TikTok. Jenner’s personal TikTok account has 34.9 million followers.
Social media is “where I grew my audience and community,” Jenner wrote in an email. “The ability to shop my products directly on these platforms is so important because that’s where our audience is going first.”
Shopify said sales on its social commerce channels — including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest — grew 76% from February 2020 to February 2021. In total, Shopify works with 1.7 million merchants.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.