Well, I’m sure you read the title… They got me! And by “they,” I mean the ever-so-unavoidable TikTok Shop. From Gemzeez (a dentist’s nightmare), to Stanley Cup dupes (seriously, who has $40 to spend on a cup?), to sweet treats like Chamoy Gushers (I can’t resist), TikTok Shop has become a one stop shop for all your impulse needs.
C’ya Bezos! You’ve been REPLACED.
What is TikTok Shop?
Okay, so let’s back up. Maybe you’re one of the few remaining hold-outs who haven’t succumbed to TikTok yet. With the official launch of TikTok Shop, it’s already become the hottest new shopping destination, giving brands and creators the opportunity to sell products directly in-platform. Between in-feed, live videos, and the showcase tab, users have ample opportunity to buy (and sell) in an integrated, intuitive way, setting TikTok apart from other online retailers.
As you scroll through TikTok, you’ve likely seen an influx of product promotion yourself, but if you don’t look closely, you probably wouldn’t know that users are receiving commission on these products, which I’ll get into later, but is important to keep in mind.
The premise of TikTok is and always has been one where any regular person can go viral for a new product or service they’ve discovered in the world outside of TikTok (a.k.a. IRL). Combine the two (candid product promotion, and a user base ready to spend) and you’ve got a recipe for success all bundled up into one already-existing platform.
Which brings me back to how “they” got me. Buckle up, because from my first purchase to my last, TikTok has become increasingly good at knowing which product I’m likely to pull trigger on.
I knew TikTok had begun testing TikTok Shop with a few select retailers and “big brands,” but it wasn’t until recently that my FYP become flooded with one product after another, after another, after another.
My wallet and I never stood a chance.
It all started on a Sunday morning. (A little hungover, I won’t lie, which ultimately worked in TikTok’s favor as I was in a state of vulnerability. Am I a victim? Yes. Do I regret it? No.) Like all of us, I was on my phone, scrolling away, before my eyes were even fully open, and before I knew it… I’m wide awake. My heart is pounding. I’m enraptured.
Now, could I make this product myself? Of course! But why would I when it’s right in front of my face like this? Buy now → Apple Pay/Shipping Information → Done! Your order will ship shortly.
And just like that, I’d made my first purchase. It gave me a rush. “It’s that simple?” Yes, it is that simple, and I now feel the urge to do it 10 times over. But we shall resist! For the next 2 days that is…
It’s Tuesday. I’m not hungover anymore and the state of vulnerability has subsided. I want to sit back and relax, enjoy my evening, when all of a sudden I hear this agitating, grating voice (thanks for the quote, Abby Lee). My friend has sent me a TikTok of the trending pickle sweatshirts (and of course it’s “eligible for commission”). Soon enough, I’ve made my second purchase. In my defense, it was a birthday gift for my dear friend Shannon, so it’s not an actual expense (girl math? Gay math? It’s all the same!).
You’d think I’d stop there, but there’s plenty more where that came from, and now it’s something I look forward to.
Which brings me to the last purchase I shall regale you with. It’s Sunday morning again, and I’m in the process of creating my weekly grocery list. The chore was really getting to me because it’s that time of month where every household item seems to run out at the same time, and suddenly your bill increases by $50. I had to take a break for some enrichment time on TikTok. The break lasted all of 30 seconds before my eyes are shimmering. I’m confronted by an ad for Mozi Wash, the “coolest” looking laundry detergent I’d ever seen! But I had to control myself… there are groceries to buy… Please TikTok, laundry detergent? This is becoming too much.
Unfortunately that control didn’t last long. The packaging is simple, yet elevated. The descriptions of the scents were so compelling I swear I could smell them through the phone. I had to make a purchase (which in turn saved me some money on my grocery bill—gay math, again?). I can rationalize almost any purchase, but c’mon, this was a necessity!
I can assure you, I’ve had many more purchases since the three above, but I’ll save you from hearing more about my terrible spending habits.
The Good, the Bad, the Future!
I know my story sounds like I had a great time exploring TikTok Shop, throwing my money away day by day, but it’s not all Stanley Cups and Chamoy Gushers.
While I am happy to see someone steal (Sc)amazon’s shine for one second (let me stop before ChatterBlast receives a notice of defamation), I wonder if TikTok is expanding too quickly without thinking of the effects this has on user experience and beyond.
Obviously here at CBM, we love when new platforms or platform features are introduced that could lend to the success of our clients. There’s no question that there’s ample opportunity here for consumer products to be advertised with the help of TikTok Shop, and it quite frankly is a missed opportunity for many who haven’t hopped on the trend yet. But was the expansion beyond retailers and big brands too much?
As I mentioned earlier, it seems like my FYP is nothing but product advertisement at this point. You literally can’t scroll for more than 2 minutes without seeing a dozen people “finding their new favorite product,” all while conveniently failing to mention that they’re eligible for commission. It’s making the user experience kinda sucky and suspect, for lack of better words (Editor’s Note: “Inauthentic” is the word here, Andrew).
With the expansion beyond retailers and brands to the “common folk” creators, it feels like TikTok has become the latest place for dropshippers to gather up a hoard of third-party materials from Ali Express and sell them for pennies on the app. Beyond that, we are seeing a bunch of deceiving and fake products being advertised, like Stanley Cup Dupes (although I’m sure users are just happy to have the Stanley name on the side of their cup regardless if it’s fake or not). Luckily, TikTok does have some guidelines in place, but is it enough?
All in all, I think it’s an awesome feature, and one I’m happy to continue supporting with my monthly Mozi Wash purchase and the occasional Chamoy Gusher cop when my sweet tooth kicks in. But I urge fellow users to proceed with caution, and do a little digging into what they’re buying/who the money is going to before tapping for that instant dopamine hit. (At least until TikTok perfects the algorithm so it isn’t just one big advertisement, and said products are a bit more regulated.)
I hope you liked my story! If “they” haven’t got you yet, hold your judgment because I’m sure it’s coming sooner than you think!