TikTok is silently preparing to launch in-app purchases

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A large glass-paneled building with the Tiktok logo on a panel above a door.  A person stands outside the door with a shirt that says "ask me anything on TikTok.

TikTok held its own booth at a book fair in Frankfurt, Germany last month, but its own plans for shopping on the app are as ambitious as they are potentially invasive.
Photo: ANDRE PAIN/AFP (Getty Images)

Hope you’re in the mood for more people trying to sell you stuff while browsing social media, because that’s exactly what you’re getting this Christmas. Semafor first reported that certain companies in the United States are invited to participate in TikTok new shopping experience just as the world leans ever closer to the economic black hole that is the holiday shopping season.

The Official TikTok Shop Seller Center The site now lists the United States as the location for business registration. These companies will soon be able to sell their products directly through the TikTok app, meaning the app and its China-based owners. ByteDance wants to bypass other online retail giants like Amazon while keeping users on the app longer. An anonymous source with knowledge of the matter also told Semafor that TikTok had started testing the TikTok store in the in the United States this week, and that international sellers will soon also put their wares on TikTok Shop. The service has already been available in the UK and some Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

In an emailed statement, a TikTok spokesperson told Gizmodo:

“We are always driven by demand and explore new ways to improve the TikTok experience. We have seen the positive impact of TikTok Shop, and we are excited to continue experimenting with this new business opportunity to support businesses of all sizes and allow our community to discover and interact with the products they love.

This effort is apparently part of what has been dubbed “Project Aquaman”, which, despite its incredibly sleazy name, is actually an incentive to turn the app into something of an online retail bazaar, where influencers run their own shopping stall through their creator account. China is a major hub for some sort of live shopping experience, where top designers products and offers offers to their legion of followers. He became a multi-billion dollar industry in this countryand could prove hugely lucrative if TikTok manages to make it popular in the US

The app uses everything at its disposal to try to climb to the top of the digital retail heap, including user data according to an October report from Market Wcaught. The company allegedly purchased data about users’ wish lists and shopping carts while also targeting users with algorithm-based ads for items they might want to buy.

Recent reports based on internal documents also showed that TikTok silently ranks influencers based on their willingness to promote products. These scores are intended to give companies an idea of which creators are the most willing and effective at selling products. That’s not to say endorsement deals haven’t already become a staple for influencers., such as YouTube creators who need extra cash to supplement what they earn from Google AdSense. Manny Ortiz, who runs the photography YouTube channel, recently said Initiated he earns five times more from brand sponsorships than from ads or affiliate sales.

All this prepares the company to launch massively into e-commerce. Axios reported last month that TikTok was looking to build its own distribution centers in the United States Another report published for the first time by Business Intern noted that TikTok has filed a US trademark application for technology that will allow users to shop and pay by voice. As silly as it may seem at first glance, it indicates the company’s desire to launch a variety of noodles at the wall, hoping one of them sticks around long enough to give them a foothold in the world of e-commerce.

That’s not to say other social apps haven’t already entered the shopping arena. This year, Instagram added the ability for users to buy directly from Instagram direct sellers through the chat function. Other apps such as Snapchat have introduced different ways for sellers to reach users as well.

Meanwhile, Instagram owner Meta has waded alongside many of the world’s biggest tech companies and recently announced he was lay off 11,000 workers. In his message to staff, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that while the company’s revenue has skyrocketed during the pandemic, thanks to online retailers, it “obviously didn’t go the way I expected or the way any of us hoped” .

And although TikTok is looking to hit the monolith that is Amazon where it hurts, it looks like any blow the app company might detail to the retail giant would be more like hitting a bruised fruit. Amazon has lost a record $1 billions of dollars in stock value This year.

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