TikTok abandons plans to expand its live shopping feature

Social media giant TikTok has abandoned its plans to expand its live e-commerce ‘TikTok Shop’ initiative to the United States and parts of Europe.

TikTok Shop was launched in the UK last year. This unique feature enabled brands and influencers to stream live while selling goods. However, TikTok’s attempt to replicate QVC-style shopping in the UK was plagued by internal issues and failed to gain traction with customers. As a result, the company has given up on plans to expand its live e-commerce venture in Europe and the US, deeming it to be against the company’s long-term interests.

A TikTok employee told the Financial Times that general consumer awareness and adoption was still low in the UK and that many TikTok Shop livestreams achieved poor sales despite efforts to encourage brands and influencers to sell through the app. As a result, TikTok Shop will now not be launched in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the US, as planned.

The future of shopping on social media – the view from Spike

In Asia generally and China in particular, livestream shopping is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, sales on Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese sister app, have more than tripled year-on-year.

However, rather than being a global trend, it appears as though livestream shopping may instead be a regional one. After all, the TikTok Shop flopped entirely in the UK, and rollout plans have now been reversed entirely, rather than being placed on hold or pushed back.

That said, this doesn’t mean that the concept of shopping on social media is outdated. After all, TikTok is now testing a dedicated ‘Shop’ feed tab that lets users browse and purchase products. The feed tab is currently being tested in Indonesia, where it serves as a hub for products being sold in the TikTok Shop.

In this regard, TikTok’s new feature seems similar to Instagram’s. The Meta-owned company launched its own Shop tab in 2020 and has witnessed a good level of success. Now, rather than focusing on livestream shopping, it appears as though TikTok will instead launch a feature that is intended to rival Instagram and Facebook.

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