TikTok sales are #trending. Using a variety of these ecommerce strategies can drive sales on the top social platform.
This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Social is the new search engine and checkout counter, and TikTok is leading the pack. In fact, TikTok Sales are #trending. TikTok is the preferred platform for product discovery, research, and purchases for millennials (the largest generation in the US) and Gen Z-ers (the future that will decide the landscape of online shopping).
In this guide, we give you ideas on developing your TikTok ecommerce strategy and share success stories to help you see the platform’s huge potential for sales.
1. Create entertaining content
While TikTok is a great social selling platform, it doesn’t get sales for you, it just provides huge opportunities for sales. This is why you should employ well-thought-out strategies.
The key to increasing sales for your TikTok shop is to have your content reach as many potential buyers as possible, ideally within your target audience.
According to Material’s TikTok Marketing Science Global Retail Path to Purchase study, 44% of TikTok users prefer branded content that is fun and entertaining. Furthermore, 39% say “lifting spirits” is key in their purchase-making decisions. Authentic, entertaining content on TikTok is necessary for better engagement.
For TikTok, entertaining content leads to online sales. Entertaining content has the huge potential to go viral too. That’s why a part of your TikTok ecommerce strategy should be to lead with entertainment and not a sales pitch.
Here are some tips:
- Skip the professional shoots. TikTok users want real, unfiltered, and authentic content. Videos taken from smartphones under real-life scenarios are more relatable to users, hence, make them connect and engage more with your brand.
- Use trending sounds, audio, and music (check what is trending in TikTok). Note: Ensure the sounds you end up using are available for commercial use.
Some content ideas for your TikTok account:
- Educational videos about topics your audience is interested in
- Comparison videos
- Product behind-the-scenes (BTS)
- Product tutorials
- Shop announcements—discounts, restocks, product launches
- Founder/CEO, niche expert, and employee videos
Lulu and Georgia, a home decor and furnishings company, features an employee’s pick in its TikTok account below.
@luluandgeorgia We asked Lulu and Georgia team members their stand-out piece from the new Eny Lee Parker collection and here is what they had to say 💬 Part 1 #homedecor #interiordesign #furnituredesign #accentchair ♬ Piano Jazz Hip Hop – hope music
2. Incorporate TikTok trends into your strategy
TikTok is full of trends that change rapidly that it can be challenging to keep up. However, embracing and riding the trends on TikTok trends is a way to have your content (and product) go viral, attract customers, and get more sales.
Did You Know? More than two-thirds (68%) of Gen Z-ers in the US are more likely to make a purchase on TikTok (ahead of Facebook and on par with YouTube and Instagram). Millennials are following closely, with more than 20% having purchased something from the platform. Leveraging trends can help you capture these demographics.
Stay on top of TikTok trends and find ways to include some of them in your content. TikTok trends usually include audio clips, viral dances, memes, and challenges.
Ruggable, a brand that makes machine-washable rugs, featured its products in rooms that looked like they could be on the hit Netflix show, Queen Charlotte.
@ruggable Here are some rooms we think belong in the Bridgerton spinoff, Queen Charlotte. 👑 #queencharlotte #queencharlottebridgerton #queencharlotteabridgertonstory #bridgerton #bridgertonaesthetic #bridgertontiktok #vintagedecor ♬ original sound – Netflix
Another example is Scrub Daddy, a cleaning product company. A popular TikTok trend uses a dancing John Cena in a background with a caption explaining why he is dancing. The brand used the trend to demonstrate how happy they are when someone switches to using their products.
@scrubdaddy S tier feeling. #scrubdaddy #smile #cleantok #cleaningtiktok #americasfavoritesponge ♬ Cupid – Twin Ver. (FIFTY FIFTY) – Sped Up Version – sped up 8282
TIP: Regularly review videos in the For You tab on TikTok so you can easily spot trends that people are reacting to. From there, you can decide if the trend is relevant to your brand.
3. Use TikTok features to inspire engagement
TikTok has several community-building features that create a direct communication channel with your viewers to learn more about them and build more meaningful connections.
Use the Q&A feature to let your viewers ask questions directly through your profile, in your videos’ comment sections, or during TikTok LIVEs. Litchy, a brand that sells body accessories, featured its founder Lizzy Perridon, for a live Q&A session. This is a great way to connect with an audience and establish trust—getting to know the face behind the brand.
@litchyofficial Q&A W/ OUR FOUNDER. @Lizzy Perridon #founder #questions #qanda #foryou #foryourpage ♬ No Lyrics – Kilo G
TIP: You can respond to comments on your videos by creating quick TikTok video responses. These are very helpful for answering product-related questions. Look at how Jones Road responded to people’s comments about their product below.
@jonesroadbeauty Replying to @Stephanie Chupein Miracle Balm too sticky? You might be using too much. Ask me questions below about your Miracle Balm. #miraclebalm #jonesroadbeauty #makeuphelp #cleanbeautytok ♬ suara asli – Sadvibes🥀
Use the Stitch feature to “stitch” another user’s video into yours. Remember every time your clip is stitched, you get credit. A perfect example of this is how clothing brand Mypheme got inspired by a TikTok user creating a hack to sculpt a dress similar to their own so they responded by trying out her idea for themselves with their ‘Artemis’ dress.
@mypheme #stitch with @roxanna.roxi 🤯🤯🤯 #dresses #tips #tiktokfashion #tiktokhacks #fashion #fashionindustry ♬ original sound – Mypheme
Similar to the Stitch feature, Duet, lets you play another user’s video next to yours in split-screen format. For example, sports brand Puma used Duet to feature another user’s viral TikTok fail. They also started a TikTok challenge to make their own Puma latte art to ride on the viral video.
@puma 🚨BAKERS, ARTISTS, & BARISTAS🚨 Can you recreate the PUMA logo like @1leogonzalez ♬ TWINS – Kaygon
Green Screen Effect
Use the green screen effect to tell authentic brand stories. The green screen effect lets you superimpose any image or video into a background. You can use this effect to create reviews, reaction videos, tutorials, and even recycle content you have already created like YouTube videos, Instagram posts, and more. A nice example is how TikTok user @girlbosstown used the effect to post a review for Starface, a pimple patch brand (it’s also a great example of user-generated content, too, which we will discuss more below).
Remember: Engaging your audience doesn’t just make them buy, it also makes them brand advocates. Buying products from TikTok inspires content creation more than other platforms, as 24% of buyers creates a post and tags a brand in TikTok compared to 10% in other platforms, with 20% even going as fast as as making a how-to or tutorial videos in TikTok, compared to just 8% in other other platforms.
Co-creation is an essential part of what makes TikTok a hot spot for viral content. Users jump off each other’s ideas and create reaction videos, duets, copy dances or skits and participate in challenges.
4. Leverage user-generated content (UGC)
User-generated content influences purchasing decisions more than any other content in TikTok—42% of TikTok users say seeing videos posted by another user about a brand or product plays an active role in their buying decisions.
UGC boosts brand awareness and builds credibility, encouraging more people to buy your products. UGC is today’s “user review” and “testimonials” for online shops. By showcasing real customer experiences, your brand is seen as authentic, relatable, and appealing.
To generate and encourage UGC from your buyers:
- Create a hashtag specific to your brand and make it visible on your TikTok account and packaging so that they will know what to use when they post on their social media accounts.
- Make an effort to deliver a great unboxing experience—one that will inspire them to share their purchase.
- Incentivize your buyers. Offer discounts, run contests, and give rewards in exchange for user-generated content.
Beauty brand e.l.f Cosmetics is a great example of UGC. Its brand hashtag, #eyeslipface, has 10.4 billion views as of this writing. It includes a healthy mix of reaction videos, how-to tutorials, unboxing, and products in action.
5. Collaborate with the right influencers
Aside from user-generated content, another way to reach more TikTok users is to collaborate with influencers. Find influencers that have a following similar to your target market and align with your brand message. Offer to work with them in creating sponsored content and promoting your brand on their accounts.
You can use the TikTok Creator Marketplace, a platform TikTok offers that lets you connect with creators. You can search for influencers by their audience size, engagement rate, country, topics and more.
TIP: Small businesses do well partnering with micro-influencers—people who have around 10,000 to 50,000 social media followers but have a niched follower base. They also usually have higher engagement rates than celebrity influencers.
Partnering with influencers can go beyond making sponsored posts, you can also collaborate with them to:
- Host a contest or giveaway with your products as the prize
- Do a “brand takeover” in your account for a day (Make sure to take the necessary precautions in securing your account)
- Do a series of content on how to use your product
An example of influencer marketing on TikTok is the Creative All-Star Series launch in London. The brand collaborated with the top four TikTok creators in the UK with a combined following of more or less 12 million to kickstart their campaign.
The campaign resulted in over 24 million video views and 29.7 million impressions. It also drove a 9.22% engagement rate and a 75% uplift in brand recall.
@jakebsweet #ad I see white shoes as a canvas #ConverseAllStar ♬ Converse Runstar – Zedig Sound Ltd.
6. Run TikTok Ads
TikTok ads reach nearly 18% of all internet users ages 18 years old and above and have a potential reach of 109,538,000 in the US. If you have the extra budget and want a boost to help reach more people and sell more, TikTok ads or promoted posts are great options.
You can use Spark Ads for any of your existing TikTok videos on the For You feed. TikTok’s internal research suggests the best-performing Spark Ads are videos that touch on your business or product with the most views. This works better if your video is recent, within the first three to five days.
TIP: Don’t forget to analyze your data from your TikTok campaigns to identify what is and what is not working. Retail metrics are a key element in driving sales.
TikTok Ecommerce Success Stories: 3 Case Studies
These ecommerce brands found viral sales success by employing a mix of all the TikTok ecommerce marketing strategies we have outlined above.
Squishmallows, a line of soft, huggable toys, is a perfect example of UGC marketing in TikTok. The toys went viral during the pandemic as fans shared their collections on TikTok (Squishtok, as they call it), resulting in more than 9 billion video views on the platform alone.
Fans call themselves Squishmallow hunters when they go on “quests” to find Squishmallows and even post videos from their quests. The hashtag, #squishmallowhunting, has gotten more than 700 million views as of this writing.
The Woobles sells beginner-friendly crochet amigurumi kits. In 2022, the company shared that it planned for the holidays as early as April, with the founders taking a hands-on approach, appearing on camera to share their company’s store. They then used paid ads on TikTok, specifically Spark Ads, for their top-performing content.
Authentic content + TikTok Ads = Ecommerce Success: Overall, the brand saw a 25% decrease in CPM (cost per thousand) and an 18% decrease in CPA (cost per acquisition).
Korean natural skin care brand Glow Recipe takes advantage of the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt trend to promote its products. Leveraging on the hashtag and UGC, the brand has amassed 1.1 million followers with 12.1 million likes as of this writing. It also utilizes the link in bio which opens up a collection containing content that has shoppable product links.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Click through the tabs below to read the answers to your TikTok ecommerce strategy frequently asked questions.
To promote your ecommerce business on TikTok, create appealing, authentic, and engaging content, use business #hashtags, partner with creators and influences, and invest in ads.
To maximize sales for your TikTok ecommerce business, create entertaining content, keep an eye out on TikTok trends, leverage TikTok’s built-in features to build community, encourage user-generated content, and partner with influencers. If you have the budget, invest in TikTok Ads.
Yes, definitely. TikTok is a social media platform known for creating viral potential and with more than 150 million users in the US, it is the best place to have marketing focus these days.
TikTok provides an in-app shopping experience for users without needing to leave the app. Users can buy products from sellers’ in-feed videos, LIVE videos, the shop tab, and the product display page.
Yes, TikTok has an ecommerce component where businesses can set up a TikTok shop in their TikTok accounts. A TikTok shop lets customers directly buy products from your feed, live videos, and provides a shop tab in your account without having to leave the platform.
Yes, you should consider selling your products on TikTok especially if your products cater to the younger generation. It is still recommended to have your own online store, but having selling opportunities in social channels is encouraged. Since TikTok is the most downloaded social platform these days, it carries great potential in helping businesses boost online sales.
If you haven’t already, consider selling on TikTok or at the very least include TikTok in your retail marketing strategy. TikTok is an essential platform for marketing, a developing key player for social commerce, and provides in-app shopping experiences for its users—letting you promote, market, and sell directly to its 143 million users in the US.
Forty-nine percent of TikTok users utilize the platform to discover something new, and 14% spend more when TikTok is part of the buying journey. So, TikTok can definitely help in promoting your business and increasing your online sales.
With the launch of TikTok Shop in the US, your business can benefit from the additional sales channel, too. Thirty-seven percent of its users bought something right away after discovering it on the platform, 1.5 times more likely than other social platforms.
Get inspiration from the TikTok ecommerce strategies we have provided to develop your own marketing strategy.