TikTok Storms the E-Commerce Market — Can it Compete With Amazon?
Just a few weeks ago, TikTok launched a new feature to the app, called ‘Trendy Beat’. This feature takes TikTok’s online shopping experience to a whole new level, and many find this news sensational. Why? Because what’s actually happening here is that TikTok is trying to compete with giants like Amazon and Shein for some of their market share. Will it succeed? Let’s figure it out together!
I am Ofir Bar, an investor with about 25 years of experience in worldwide markets, and a special interest in entrepreneurship and innovation. TikTok’s latest move caught my attention because it can be a great live-conducted study case for a company trying to expand and compete with ‘sharks’ from its field. A true lesson in entrepreneurship! So, what advantages does TikTok have over its competition, if at all? Are they trying to fight a battle they can’t win?
Don’t wake the dragon
Breaking news: These days, it may seem that we consumers have an abundance of choices and that we are free to pick one option over the other. But actually, this is trickery: First of all, big companies — ones that have enough power and resources — tend to purchase their smaller competitors, turning many markets into centralized ones. Moreover, we are heavily bound to our habits: Once we get used to a specific service, it’s unlikely that we’ll abandon it in favor of a new, unproven competitor, even if it may be better for us.
Companies like Shein, and especially Amazon, have already fully established themselves as THE places to do online shopping. People learned to trust these companies, and they are used to working with them. The market of online shopping is already saturated, and that’s the main reason why TikTok will probably have a hard time getting a piece of this pie. Not to mention that if and when Trendy Beat becomes popular, TikTok should be prepared for Amazon to fight back. And boy, that can’t turn out well.
Having said all that, we mustn’t forget that TikTok is currently the most powerful social media platform in the world, which is surely a great head-start. Even if they draw the attention of the online shopping giants, I believe they have the restraint to handle it. TikTok already has 1 billion active users. It’s a great opportunity to not only get vast exposure for ads, but also give users the entire customer journey experience by adding in the Trendy Beat feature. And that leads me to my next point.
An experiential shopping experience
Recently, I’ve read a book about habit formation, called ‘Atomic Habits’ (by James Clear). According to it, three of the major steps towards habit forming are: making it obvious, making it easy, and making it attractive. I believe that TikTok’s Trendy Beat is, in this manner, a bull’s eye.
Think about it: How do you usually operate on online shopping sites? You realize you need something, and then you start browsing an e-commerce site. You scroll through models, prices, and other relevant aspects of the product. Then you compare and make a purchase. Sounds straightforward, but this procedure also has some dullness in it, don’t you think?
Here’s what e-commerce looks like at Trendy Beat: When we scroll through TikTok, we see ads for products that we may have never thought of purchasing before, or even for products we haven’t heard about. No need for us to actively develop a need for a specific product: We stumble upon a video that includes a good-looking influencer using an AMAZING innovative product. Then, we click the banner, and we’re redirected to Trendy Beat. There, we can buy that cool product directly from TikTok, without having to handle third-party sellers.
They made it attractive. They made it obvious. They made it easy. Absolutely genius — and genuine.
Raise a ruckus
Entering a saturated market is not easy. So, if that’s your goal, you have to make sure you have a clear and distinct advantage over your competitors. Of course, that’s far from enough. These days, as people are bombarded with ads from all directions, it’s not easy to get their attention, and even less to make them change their habits and try an unfamiliar product or service.
That said, I believe that TikTok’s Trendy Beat is set to raise a ruckus in the e-commerce world. It may take some time, but it’s coming.