TikTok might be harboring e-commerce dream in India

A few months ago, TikTok rolled out in-app shopping advertisements in the US.

Photo by Yousouf Dina on Unsplash

Since the last six months, ByteDance-owned short-video app TikTok has been experimenting with in-app shoppable advertisements allowing users to make purchases without leaving the app, suggesting its entry into e-commerce services, local media Economic Times reported.

KrASIA noticed shoppable advertisements of companies such as Snapdeal, ClubFactory, and Subway, jump in between two user generated video feeds on TikTok. Clicking on these advertisements take the users to the e-tailer’s micro-site without them leaving the short-video app’s platform.

Last month, ahead of its yearly festive period sale Flipkart claimed it garnered three billion views in three days on TikTok. According to Amazon India and Flipkart, the sale of accessories related to mobile and video recording such as tripods, mobile holders, USB connectors, among other similar products, have increased manifold. This is first time in India, where major e-commerce companies are targeting the next 100 million internet users through TikTok. The short-video company claims to have over 200 million users across India that has nearly 550 million smartphone users as of now.

Harish Bijoor, a Bengaluru-based brand expert, told ET“Shoppable ads look new on TikTok. It helps close a sale in a shorter time frame as you are already within the sale environment. It is important today with impatient digital consumers. It is well known that the more steps to closing a sale, the more likelihood of people falling out. It also helps TikTok gain access to shopping data.”

According to a technology website TechCrunch, TikTok is running sponsored hashtags, called Hashtag Challenge Plus, targeting adults and teenage users to view and purchase these products. TikTok influencers create videos under this sponsored hashtag showing features of a specific product with an option for viewers to make a direct purchase.

However, it must be noted that sale transactions are made off-platform, indicating that right now TikTok does not have e-commerce capability on the app.

Apart from facilitating actual e-commerce sale, the firm has been seeking to grow in India by displaying ads of startups like Dunzo, Bounce, dating app TanTan, social commerce platform Meesho, and short-video social network app Vigo on its platform.

Though immensely popular, TikTok in India has been caught on the wrong foot with charges of privacy invasion, data security, and online intimidation. Earlier this year, an Indian court had imposed a two-week ban on the app for letting pornographic content broadcast on its platform.