- TikTok is sunsetting storefronts, a feature that let Shopify sellers sync product catalogs to its app.
- The company is pushing merchants to instead switch to its own e-commerce tool, TikTok Shop.
- The move shows how TikTok wants to own all aspects of shopping — and box out third-party platforms.
TikTok will discontinue its Shopify-integrated “storefronts” feature next month as it seeks to control all aspects of in-app shopping and drive sellers to TikTok Shop, its e-commerce platform.
Storefronts were first introduced in the United States and the United Kingdom in August 2021 as a way for merchants to feature products in a dedicated tab on their TikTok accounts. Shopify sellers could use the tool to sync their product catalogs to TikTok, where users could click on linked items to purchase them on Shopify. TikTok storefronts could also be linked to BigCommerce, Ecwid, and Square online stores.
Makeup brand Kylie Cosmetics and wedding band maker Manly Bands were among the first to use the feature.
According to a FAQ page on TikTok’s website, storefronts will be removed on September 12. The product is being phased out because the company is “committed to building native, engaging, and entertaining shopping experiences that empower you to meaningfully engage with customers and grow your business.”
TikTok Shop purchases are not redirected to third-party platforms such as Shopify, which means TikTok will have primary visibility into all aspects of the customer journey.
“TikTok Shop is entirely contained within the TikTok app,” according to the company’s website. “Product discovery, product details, checkout, and post-payment activity — all powered and performed entirely within the TikTok App, creating a seamless shopping experience from beginning to end.”
TikTok has leaned heavily on social shopping in recent months as it lays out plans to control more aspects of the e-commerce process, such as order fulfillment and logistics. It has attempted to entice sellers by offering free shipping and other incentives. It paid influencers cash bonuses to tag products in videos and has begun selling goods directly in the UK. The company is even considering forming a team around pre-sold luxury items such as bags and sneakers. There are few areas of e-commerce it does not wish to enter.
ByteDance, the company’s owner, understands how lucrative social shopping can be. It operates a similar video app in China called Douyin, which has reportedly driven tens of billions of dollars in e-commerce sales. TikTok began testing e-commerce features in the United States as early as 2020, when it allowed creators to include in-video shopping links for Shopify and Teespring, now known as Spring.
While TikTok is excluding Shopify and other third-party merchant tools from its Shop feature, the company still wishes to collaborate closely with other platforms on advertising. Last week, TikTok announced that it was improving its API integration with Shopify in order to make it easier for sellers to track potential buyer actions on marketing campaigns.
When asked about storefronts, a Shopify spokesperson told Insider that the company had no news to share about its TikTok partnership. TikTok did not respond to requests for comment.
Because TikTok Shop currently does not integrate with Shopify, Shopify may lose revenue if its merchants choose to set up shop with TikTok and direct sales there rather than their main Shopify store.
TikTok’s clearest competitive advantage may be attracting e-commerce-interested influencers.However, Rick Watson, the CEO and founder of RMW Commerce Consulting, believes TikTok Shop is not a significant threat to Shopify. Some influencers who want to sell their own products directly may choose to “test the waters” on TikTok Shop, but many will likely set up a Shopify store because the platform allows merchants to sell in more places, according to Watson.
“There is really no precedent for a social-media-marketing e-commerce site threatening one of the major e-commerce platforms, and I don’t expect it to happen this time either,” Watson said.