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TikTok expands into ecommerce: Social media shopping seeing a boom on back of pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns brought about many behavioral changes amongst individuals as they were forced to adapt to the ‘new normal’. As many people were forced to work remotely and communicate with friends and family via the internet, social media platforms saw a surge in use. This has resulted in a subsequent acceleration in the trend towards social media shopping.

Ecommerce as a whole has witnessed a boom on the back of the pandemic. The closure of non-essential stores during various lockdowns, as well as the requirement for masks and social distancing, meant that the shift towards online shopping was significantly accelerated. What’s more, with the surge in social media use, shopping on these platforms has also seen an uptick in demand. According to Bazaarvoice’s annual Shopper Experience Index in March 2021, one third of consumers in the UK make purchases directly via social media. Meanwhile, research carried out by Mastercard in March 2021 found that over the preceding 12 months, 43% of consumers surveyed claimed to have shopped more on social media.

Social media platform TikTok has now marked its entry into social commerce with its first live shopping event. The event ran from 5pm on December 8 and December 9 in the UK. During the live event, consumers were able to buy products directly from the TikTok platform. The event, which was called ‘On Trend’, featured exclusive discounts from brands including L’Oreal, Charlotte Tilbury, and Nutri Bullet. TikTok aimed to create a unique experience by combining the shopping event with entertainment from musicians and popular creators on the platform.

Other social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, have been capitalizing on the growing trend towards social media shopping. TikTok is keen to catch-up and is well placed to do so given its huge surge in subscriber numbers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.