TikTok is making its first big live shopping debut in the U.K. on Wednesday with an event called “On Trend.” Between Wednesday and Thursday, brands and creators will show off exclusive discounts and products that people can buy directly off the platform.
“We think it’s a really significant moment,” Rich Waterworth, TikTok’s general manager for the U.K. and EU, told BBC. “E-commerce is a big opportunity for TikTok and it’s something we’re investing in significantly.”
Shopping on social media platforms has been around for a while, but live shopping hasn’t become nearly as popular as it is today. In 2017, Instagram introduced shopping features on the platform, but it’s only recently launched huge live shopping pushes like one in September and another this month. Pinterest also hopped on the live shopping bandwagon with its own tools last month.
TikTok isn’t new to live shopping, though. The platform’s Chinese counterpart, Douyin, has had booming live shopping features since 2018. It has grown from making 10 billion yuan in 2018 to 800 billion yuan this past year; TikTok's U.K. event will test whether ecommerce can be just as successful outside China.
Live shopping isn't too big of a leap for TikTok, either: Viral videos about shopping have created real-world buying trends. Users rack up millions of views creating videos of their shopping hauls using the popular hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, suggesting products from Amazon, small businesses and others. Last year, grocery stores faced a feta cheese shortage because of a viral pasta recipe, and Aerie didn’t even need to offer a discount for its leggings to clear the shelf, thanks to TikTok.
TikTok’s new live shopping event will check whether livestreaming ecommerce can work just as well as its viral trends, and whether users outside China want to be part of it.