TikTok isn’t quite done with shopping.
Two months after rumors circulated that the video-sharing app wouldn’t bring its live e-commerce plan to the U.S., TikTok is reportedly planning to partner with TalkShopLive to support its shopping initiative. The Los Angeles-based startup uses QVC-style product demonstrations and sales. TalkShopLive has previously partnered with Walmart to support the retailer’s streamed shopping website.
TikTok’s own attempts at breaking into the live stream shopping craze have been rocky at best. Its U.K. initiative, TikTok Shop, first saw a mass staff exodus over accusations of a toxic workspace and has operated at a loss. Additionally, many influencers have dropped out of the program over pay cuts and product problems. The platform hired its own team to create the necessary infrastructure. A partnership with a pre-existing live streaming company may help alleviate the issues TikTok faced in the U.K.
The plan is for TalkShopLive to provide live-shopping infrastructure for creators and companies to sell products. The platform typically takes a 10% commission, though TikTok may initially cover this cost. The feature will likely launch ahead of the holiday season as 71% of Americans plan to buy gifts online. Terms have yet to be finalized, so further features are unknown.
Previously, TikTok partnered with Shopify to allow online sellers to link to items through their TikTok profiles and attracted big names like Kylie Jenner.
QVC-stye live shopping has yet to recreate its Asian success in North American markets. Sales on TikTok’s Chinese equivalent, Douyin, amounted to $119 billion in 2021. More to that end, the live-stream shopping space is set to be an almost $500 billion industry in China but will only generate $11 billion in the U.S.
TikTok’s American competitors haven’t fared well in the space either. Facebook shuttered its live shopping feature this week as it tries to focus on boosting its TikTok copycat, Reels. Twitter has also tested the idea, but it hasn’t made much buzz in the space. Pinterest has arguably seen the most success; after launching Pinterest TV in 2021, it has since launched a separate app for its shopping platform.
Nevertheless, a number of Los Angeles-based startups are trying to crack the live stream shopping code after a pandemic-induced boost. TalkShopLive has attracted the likes of Paul McCartney and Dolly Parton to pitch their products and recently raised $6 million. PopShop Live, a similar live shopping platform, reached a $100 million valuation last year, though it laid off 18% of its staff as the markets shifted. Other live-stream shopping platforms have continued to grow, with Whatnot bringing in $260 million earlier this year.
For now, outsourcing technology may help smooth TikTok’s e-commerce efforts. Still, it seems that convincing Americans to “shop live” remains an enigma for online platforms.
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