TikTok, the popular social media platform, is experimenting with a new feature that could transform all user posts into potential shopping opportunities, according to a recent Bloomberg report. This move is part of TikTok’s ambitious plan to establish a significant e-commerce presence in the United States.
The feature under testing employs technology to automatically identify objects within videos. It then prompts viewers to explore “similar items on TikTok Shop” by navigating to a product page, as observed in app screenshots and posts reviewed by Bloomberg. This marks a departure from TikTok’s previous approach, where only selected influencers and brands had the capability to tag products in their content.
A spokesperson for TikTok confirmed to Bloomberg that this feature is currently in an early testing phase.
In 2022, TikTok launched TikTok Shop in the U.S., aiming to blend the convenience of Amazon’s shopping experience with the product discovery aspect typical of social media platforms like Instagram. This new venture is a key focus for TikTok, which is targeting $17.5 billion in product sales in the U.S. market this year, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.
The introduction of TikTok Shop has elicited mixed reactions. Some merchants, interviewed by Bloomberg, praised the platform for boosting their sales during the holiday season, aided by TikTok’s promotions and free shipping offers. In November, which included major shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, TikTok Shop attracted over 5 million new customers.
However, the platform has faced criticism for issues such as counterfeit and imitation products. Additionally, some users have expressed dissatisfaction with the increase in advertisement-like content from influencers, which they feel detracts from the app’s entertainment value.
TikTok incentivizes content creators by offering commissions on product purchases linked to their posts, encouraging them to promote merchandise. The new feature being tested aims to link products in regular users’ posts more subtly, potentially offering a more enjoyable browsing experience for users primarily seeking entertainment.
The accuracy of the product matches in the test phase has been variable. For instance, a video of a woman polishing stones led to the recommendation of unrelated items like a gold ring and metallic press-on fingernails, tagged as “similar to item in video.”
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