TikTok’s new app store signals its goal to be an e-commerce platform that relies less on established players like Shopify

  • TikTok launched an app and services store for sellers using its new e-commerce platform, Shop.
  • It’s similar to app stores from other platforms like Amazon.
  • The move signals TikTok’s ambitions to run a full-service shopping destination.

TikTok Shop, the social media app’s e-commerce platform, was officially launched in the United States on Tuesday. TikTok also debuted an app and services store as part of the launch, where TikTok Shop sellers can find third-party software solutions to help boost their sales.

According to Insider, TikTok discontinued its “storefronts” feature in order to drive sellers to Shop. TikTok Shop is intended to be a one-stop shopping experience, complete with in-feed and live video shopping, a dedicated shop tab in the TikTok app, an affiliate marketing program, and in-app checkout.

TikTok’s app store categorizes apps based on the seller’s current e-commerce platform, which includes Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and Amazon.

These e-commerce platforms have their own app stores as well. Shopify, in particular, is known for its robust ecosystem of over 10,000 app partners, some of which have grown into large, successful businesses in their own right.

The decision by the Bytedance-owned company to build its own e-commerce app store indicates that it “is looking to create an alternative way for entrepreneurs to go to market that is completely independent of Shopify,” according to Rick Watson, the CEO and founder of RMW Commerce Consulting.

TikTok sellers may also use Shopify or another e-commerce platform to run their online businesses, but he says they don’t have to use those platforms to succeed on TikTok Shop.

“You would not do something like this if TikTok thought it was just a social media network with a tiny bit of e-commerce attached to it,” Watson said. “However, if you plan to create a new center of gravity for creators, influencers, and entrepreneurs to grow, perhaps one that does not even need Shopify for some time, then an App Store is one of the first things that I would do.”

Shopify has a TikTok integration that allows merchants to sync inventory between their Shopify stores and TikTok accounts.

“Partners are an important part of our services ecosystem for merchants, and we began onboarding partners for this program when we started testing in November 2022,” said a TikTok spokesperson.

TikTok Shop as a standalone sales channel

TikTok Shop’s new app store appears most similar to Amazon’s app store in that its services enable functions such as data syncing and order shipping without changing the way a store functions or looks, according to Juozas Kaziuknas, CEO of e-commerce intelligence firm Marketplace Pulse.

“Those apps help you manage the business,” he says, which is “especially important for sellers who sell across multiple channels.” He believes that highlighting third-party software partners could entice sellers to begin using TikTok Shop.

“When you build a marketplace, like TikTok did, you need partners who will be a source of sellers because sellers joining marketplaces that don’t integrate with apps they already use is a big roadblock,” he explained. “It also saves marketplaces from building a lot of tech in its own seller dashboard because it can instead stream that data to third-party apps that have built it already.”

One software provider that has launched a native integration with TikTok Shop ahead of the platform’s launch this week is Flowspace. Flowspace develops software that powers merchant fulfillment in over 150 fulfillment centers across the United States. Its customers frequently sell across multiple channels at the same time, including Amazon’s marketplace, their own Shopify stores, and now TikTok Shop.

CRO Anne Hallock told Insider that Flowspace helps sellers optimize their inventory so they don’t have to split it up by channel.

“Our goal is to be present at every touchpoint where a brand’s customer exists so that we can lower the barrier to entry for brands to sell across any channel that they want,” she explained.

Being on TikTok’s app store also aids third-party software providers in being discovered by sellers who may be interested in using their products.

“We love an app store because it says: this is a reliable provider,” Hallock explained. They have fulfilled all of the requirements for integration.”

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