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TikTok for eCommerce: An Essential channel in 2021?

Last updated April 27, 2022 5 min to read
TikTok for eCommerce
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In April 2020, TikTok had a whopping 800 million active users globally! As you read this, its that figure will be even larger, considering how rapidly TikTok picks up new users.

Since launching in September 2016 its user-base has sky rocketed globally, especially with younger Millennials and Generation Z.

As the fastest growing social media platform right now, using TikTok for eCommerce is a smart way to reach new audiences. Especially if your target market are in their teens or early twenties. This article will guide you need to know about TikTok for eCommerce.

Why selling on TikTok matters

As we’ve highlighted above, TikTok is a global phenomenon that’s been downloaded billions (yes billions!) of times by young people all over the world.

Beyond the user and download numbers, let’s take a look at why TikTok for eCommerce is something worth sitting up and taking notice of.

Reaching young audiences

The app is gaining popularity fast. But how is it different to Instagram or Facebook? The opportunity to reach younger audiences is what sets TikTok apart.

The number of American adults using the app is growing significantly. However, in 2019, 41% of TikTok users were aged 16-24, according to market research company GlobalWebIndex.

75% of Gen Z and Millennials shop online via smartphones – much more than any other age group. This makes it really important to connect with them on mobile and TikTok is a great way for eCommerce businesses to do this.

Selling on TikTok offers online sellers the opportunity to engage with younger generations. If you’re quick to make TikTok part of your eCommerce marketing strategy, you can reach younger people before your rivals.

TikTok is used most by Millenials and Generation Z

Opening new markets

TikTok for eCommerce is ideal for companies looking to sell internationally. Although the app was first launched in China, it has now expanded to over 150 countries.

Right now, India is the biggest driver of downloads – followed by China and the USA. According to recent data from app intelligence experts Sensor Tower, this is how the app’s users are broken down:

  • India accounts for 30% of app downloads – or 611 million users
  • China accounts for 10% of downloads – or 197 million users
  • The US accounts for 8% of downloads – 165 million users

Whether you’re looking to gain traction with Gen Z or reach out to new geographic locations, TikTok for online sellers offers huge opportunities.

How TikTok works

Back in 2016, TikTok was launched in China under the name Douyin. The following year, it expanded internationally branded as TikTok.

TikTok is all about sharing short-form video content. Creators (TikTok’s version of influencers) can post up to 60 seconds of footage.

Selling on TikTok can be tricky. The quirky platform requires high levels of creativity to succeed. Unpredictable, funny and out-there content works best.

In many ways TikTok is the antithesis of Instagram. Its young audience enjoys authentic, fly-on-the-wall content rather than polished images and highly produced videos. This means there are promotional opportunities on TikTok for online sellers of every size and budget.

Like Instagram or Snapchat, TikTok videos are available to people outside of a user’s network. But on TikTok, there isn’t much need to focus on building a large fan following. Online sellers can get their content, brand and products out there without one.

Based on what a user watches, TikTok automatically suggests other videos to them. Its clever algorithm encourages users to go down the rabbit hole and discover great new content.

For eCommerce businesses selling on TikTok, their content can go viral on day one – if it’s good enough. People in your eCommerce niche can also discover you by browsing hashtags.

Using TikTok for eCommerce marketing

As a relatively new platform, using TikTok for eCommerce promotion is a continually changing endeavor. Even if you create popular content, it can be difficult to turn engagement into conversions. However, this won’t be the case for much longer. TikTok is testing and introducing eCommerce features all the time. Here’s what’s currently on offer.

External links

Similar to Instagram, users are now allowed to include external links in their bios. TikTok also launched a ‘creator’ marketplace to help businesses find popular users who will promote their links.

Shop now buttons

Douyin, China’s version of the app, successfully implemented eCommerce features after partnering with Alibaba in 2018. They allowed users with large followings to feature ‘Shop now’ buttons on their content.

Before the year was out, the button was driving $29 million of sales in a single day. Now, TikTok is gradually expanding this feature to more users and countries. Testing is taking place in the US right now.

eCommerce promotions

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, TikTok launched its ‘Small Gestures’ feature. This latest initiative lets users send virtual gifts to their friends on the app. These gifts are provided by a range of brand partners and commonly include free subscriptions and trials.

However, some eCommerce brands put forward free gifts too. Cosmetics company Essie offered users free bottles of nail varnish, while the likes of NYX Professional Makeup and REBBL drinks provided discount codes.

What about TikTok ads?

TikTok’s self-serve ads are available in the US, the UK, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Korea, Russia, India and South-East Asia. In other regions, you’ll need to work with an account manager to run a campaign.

TikTok’s advertising platform isn’t as slick as Facebook ads. But new options are appearing all the time. Here’s a breakdown of the ad formats currently available to eCommerce sellers:

1. Top view TikTok ads

This full-screen, audio-on, premium video ad appears when users first open the TikTok app. It grabs users attention for up to 60 seconds and then appears at the top of the user’s newsfeed.

2. Brand takeovers

Brand takeovers also appear on user screens when they first open the TikTok app. But these full-screen ads differ from top view ads, because they last just a few seconds.

3. In-feed ads

These TikTok ads automatically play in the ‘For you’ feed of relevant users. Videos can be up to a minute long and users can like, comment, share, follow or use your ad’s music to create their own video. This is a great way to build a following and engage with a new audience.

4. Hashtag challenges

This ad format encourages TikTok users to create their own content around your brand’s campaign theme. For example, Chipotle made headlines in 2019 when it launched its on-brand #GuacDance challenge. Hundreds of TikTok users responded by sharing their own hilarious dance routines.

Hashtag challenges are a great way to take brand awareness to the next level. According to TikTok, hashtag challenges have an average engagement rate of 8.5%. If you’re looking to start using TikTok for eCommerce, this is a great place to start.

5. Branded effects

For brand-focused eCommerce sellers, branded effects are a fun way to build awareness and visibility. TikTok users love creating videos so give them branded stickers, filters, lenses and effects to use. This visual form of promotion is a great way to boost user-generated content and reach members of Gen Z who speak various different languages.

Wrapping up

As an eCommerce channel, TikTok isn’t the finished product quite yet. It has its limitations when compared with Instagram, for example, which is understandable considering how young the app is.

A warning to online sellers though: ignore TikTok at your peril! The speed at which it’s growing is astonishing. If you’re not using it to connect with younger shoppers, you’re enabling competitors to get in there first.

Big retail brands like Levis, Hollister, Uniqlo and Yves Rocher are already taking full advantage of the TikTok’s eCommerce potential. This is only going to become more common among smaller eCommerce merchants too.

When used well, TikTok brings brands closer to consumers than ever before. If you create a viral TikTok video featuring your product, you could have a huge win that changes your business overnight!

Did you know that over 60% of US online retail purchases were made through Amazon last year? Amazon’s hold over eCommerce is well established, with 9.1 million active Amazon sellers worldwide and an average of 66 thousand orders per day. Newer sellers may be wondering how they can get more sales on Amazon in such a competitive environment.

The truth is, they absolutely can because with Amazon’s booming market share come many opportunities. We’ve assembled this digestible list of 14 quick wins and strategic moves, to help you up your game and sell more on Amazon.

1. Do keyword research

Having the right keywords can be one of the most important tactics in reaching your target audiences. Using the keywords that are common to searches for your products is the objective, but search engine optimisation (SEO) is a constantly evolving game. That means that keywords used successfully in the past may not be as effective with updated search engine algorithms today.

The terms used by customers to find products change daily and are affected by seasonal, cultural, and economic factors. Hence, it’s important to stay on top of the latest SEO trends and make sure you cast a wide net when implementing keywords for each product listing.

Each product should be optimized with as many relevant keywords as possible – into the hundreds! This gives you the best possible chance of getting your products found by customers, helping you sell more on Amazon.

Amazon keyword research tools like Helium 10, SellerApp, Jungle Scout, and AMZ One can help by generating a list of related keywords with search volume, competition level, and other useful metrics, making it easier for you to choose the best keywords for your product listing

2. Use a repricing tool to get more sales on Amazon

When it comes to sealing the deal and making a sale, price is a main deciding factor for many customers. As an Amazon seller, you always want to make sure you’re pricing your products competitively, but equally, you don’t want to lose your margin! 

This is something that using repricing software can help with. Repricing software automates the pricing process in real-time, ensuring your prices stay in line with those of competitors, and with market fluctuations, while you get more sales on Amazon.

Repricing software also has many customisable features that allow you to set prices at optimal levels to help drive sales, without compromising profit. It’s worth taking a trial to see how it can help lift your sales. 

3. Get more Amazon reviews

Online reviews are important to spread confidence through word of month and for building credibility for your brand. It’s also a fact that 72% of shoppers won’t buy until they’ve read reviews of a product from people like themselves – people they trust. 

Even a strong product with great marketing behind it still has to overcome the fear of the unknown if there’s no social proof. Plus, positive reviews are a significant factor in deciding which products win the Amazon Buy Box.

Get more Amazon reviews by encouraging feedback from your customers. The best way to do this is by utilizing feedback software to automate the process.

4. Provide great customer service

Customer service is absolutely essential in eCommerce. Offering top-quality customer service not only adds value, but helps retain customers. A big part of making a sale is assuring the customer that they can trust you to deliver, and that trust is hard earned but easily lost. Providing good eCommerce customer service is critical, and committing to providing great customer service is all the more so!

As an Amazon seller, you need to be on top of your customer service. Responsiveness, a friendly manner and quick and easy resolution processes are all ingredients that make for a winning approach to great customer service. 

But it can be confusing trying to streamline it all. Thankfully, there are all sorts of tools available to make this job easier, like helpdesk software to keep all your customer interactions in one place. This helps you to respond quickly and accurately to customer inquiries when they come in, so that your customers always know you’ve got their back.

5. Leverage Amazon seller tools

The best part about being an Amazon seller is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are numerous tools available to help you maximize your business and get the most out of selling on Amazon, whether third-party or FBA. 

From repricing tools, to help desk software, to review software and even shipping assistance, many tools exist on the market today that specifically help Amazon sellers optimize their listings, prices, feedback, shipping, customer service and even their taxes. 

There are many different seller tools available, so it’s worth reading about options and making an informed decision about the right ones to choose for your business. With the right tools, you can grow your business more than you ever thought possible. 

6. Get more sales on Amazon with ads

Running ads is almost guaranteed to help you get more sales on Amazon, but it’s easy to just throw money at them and hope for the best. You can do better! Pay attention to your advertising cost of sales (ACOS) metric, the figure for how much ad spend you need in order to make a sale.

By advertising more efficiently, you lower your ACOS and ensure you get more bang for your buck. Over time, you’ll learn what works and you can employ a strategy with regards to how you run your ads. Taking an insight-driven approach to Amazon ads results in a more profitable Amazon business!

7. Optimise your product pages

The old saying goes that 80% of readers never make it past the headline of any piece of content. That means once you’ve written your product title, you’ve effectively spent 80 cents of your dollar.

When writing product titles, stick to the formula of:

  • Brand name
  • Product name
  • Features (size, colour, gender etc). 

This lets you include the right keywords in the right order to immediately tell shoppers that this is the product for them.

Moreover, making sure to visually design your product pages so that they’re clean, simple and easy to read will also help win over shoppers. No one wants to read through a cluttered page. The more straightforward (yet informative) and the cleaner you make your design, the more likely you’ll be to win over those elusive eyeballs!

8. Win the Amazon Buy Box

The quickest way to get more sales on Amazon is by ensuring that your products show up consistently in the Amazon Buy Box (the area in the top right of a product page, where shoppers can ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’). This is because over 82% of sales happen through this highly sought after space.

Although the exact formula to win the Buy Box is unknown, there are a few things that we know are essential. These are mainly metrics that prove the seller is providing a good customer experience. Customer reviews play a big role here. The more positive reviews a seller can amass, the likelihood of winning the Buy Box increases. 

In addition to reviews, something else that’s obviously very important to Amazon shoppers is price! By using repricing software, you can automatically set your prices at the optimal level to win the Buy Box and maximize profit, even if you’ve got an enormous inventory.

9. Amazon account health rating

The Amazon account health rating (AHR) is a new feature that helps you monitor your account health based on its adherence to Amazon seller policies. 

It considers both negative factors (such as the number of unresolved policy violations on your account) as well as positive factors (how your account positively impacts the customer experience through its selling activities). 

Each account will be given a rating, which is regularly reviewed as Amazon monitors the performance of its sellers. If your account is off-target, you will be notified so that you can improve your performance. Conversely, a good AHR rating will work in your favor, helping assure customers that they’re doing business with a compliant seller. 

10. Maintain your Amazon SLA

A big part of being a seller is cultivating trust with your customers. That means showing them that you operate in an above-board manner and that you’ll make good on your promise of fulfillment to them. One way of doing that is by making sure your Amazon store has a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is a promise to your customers that they’ll receive their orders on time. When it comes to fulfillment, the SLA is based on the capacity to fulfill open orders and on-time shipping and delivery. 

SLAs help manage customer expectations by defining standards and outlining circumstances under which you as the seller won’t be liable for unfulfilled promises (e.g., natural disasters preventing shipping, etc). 

eDesk’s customer service solution is designed to alert you when your SLA is expiring, so your business is never caught without one. Having a current SLA helps you maintain transparency with customers, thereby building trust which helps ensure customer loyalty.  

11. Focus on products that already sell

Most ambitious business owners want to try new streams of revenue, but it’s important not to lose sight of the things that are making you money now. 

By doubling down on the products that already provide your Amazon store with a reliable revenue stream, you not only deliver to market demand but ensure that you have the financial runway required to take risks on innovative new products, if need be. 

Review your financial statements every quarter and look at the items that are performing best in your store. Think about how you can continue to market these with ads, SEO keywords and upgraded images to maximize their selling potential in your online store. 

12. Sync your inventory

Inventory can be a delicate balancing act. Hold too much inventory for too long and you need to pay over the odds to store it. But hold too little inventory and you lose out on vital sales, or even customers, due to an inability to fulfill. Amazon can also penalize you if your inventory performance isn’t up to standard.

Stock control is something every seller needs to understand and have the capability to manage for optimal results. Smart inventory management is an under-appreciated way to increase your Amazon sales and profit margin. Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Investing in the right tools and software can help sellers take the stress out of balancing supply and demand.

13. Expand into new Amazon marketplaces 

Amazon currently has 20 marketplaces around the world, which include the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Australia and more. 

You can scale your brand by moving into some of these marketplaces. This can involve doing market research to find out which products are popular in each market and then uplevelling your shipping operations in order to be able to ship globally.  

But expanding into new markets also means you’ll need to take language into consideration and localize your listings so that they feature each marketplace’s local language and SEO keywords in the appropriate language. Multilingual customer service is also needed in order to be able to service customers across various marketplaces in their local language. 

Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be. eDesk’s help desk solution is designed to support customer service and workflow in multiple languages, so you can expand your business without investing in the overhead of hiring a global team. 

14. Spy on your competitors

Ok, maybe “spy” is a bit of an exaggeration, but profitable sellers are always on the lookout for what their competitors are doing. You want to make sure you’re offering the right inventory for your market at the right prices. Repricing software will monitor this for you, taking the guesswork out of pricing at the right levels. 

Using data gleaned from helpdesk reporting can also help you gather valuable insights and feedback from your customers, which will help you to better understand what customers want and need. Acting on analytics-driven insights from easy-to-read reports means you’re always one step ahead of the competition. 

Final thoughts

The quest to increase your store’s Amazon sales doesn’t need to be an uphill struggle. There are many resources available to Amazon sellers today to help them optimize their store and develop a healthy sales pipeline. 

By staying in touch with how the Amazon platform grows and using the right tech tools to drive your business, you can continue to do what you do best: building a great brand, winning customers, retaining existing customers and improving your bottom line. 

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