Getting started on TikTok Shop

To support GS1 UK members enter this new marketplace, we've partnered with TikTok to guide you through the process of developing your presence and boosting sales.

TikTok app on phone

With 80 per cent of new GS1 UK members looking to trade solely on digital marketplaces, the innovative new shopping feature on TikTok presents a huge opportunity for brands looking to expand their e-commerce offering to a UK audience of 13m users.

Alongside our partners at TikTok, we hosted a live, interactive discussion with members on how to get set up, list products and achieve success on TikTok Shop.

A huge funnel for brands

First to speak was Ryan Jones, senior growth and strategy manager at TikTok. Ryan’s team is responsible for supporting sellers as they take their first steps on the platform.

women browsing TikTok on phone

According to Ryan, TikTok now has over 1bn monthly users, 13bn global hashtag views and an average of 17 app-opens a day per-user, making it a huge funnel for brands. In the year since TikTok Shop launched, the team have carefully analysed their viewership to truly understand what conversion looks like and how the platform can create new revenue streams for their brands.

A recent study revealed that content on the platform impacts the purchasing decisions of 83 per cent of users. Based on this knowledge, TikTok have developed a in-app, 360 approach to e-commerce.

This delivers a full end-to-end solution in which users can view a video, find the product that was featured, click on it to see alternative sizes or colours and check out without leaving the app.

Getting started

Before you start selling on TikTok, you’ll first need to build and organic presence. This all starts with setting up your account which can be done in just four easy steps:

  1. Create your official TikTok @handle by signing up for an account on your phone app.
  2. Convert your TikTok account to a business account to accesses a range of exclusive benefits.
  3. Sign up for TikTok Ads Manager. This will allow you to manage your paid strategy.
  4. Install the TikTok Pixel. This will enable you to optimise your campaigns and re-target your audience.

Ryan advises new sellers to consider both the organic focus of the app and paid amplification. Enhancing your organic content will help you engage with more of your audience and give you a better understanding of what resonates with them.

Your paid content can then be used to amplify this success and dig deeper into the performance of your content with in-depth metrics.

Setting up your shop

Adrian Chau, senior product manager at TikTok, then shared some best practices for ensuring success early on.

First you need to ensure you shop’s account is ready to start selling. To do this, Adrian recommends signing up for TikTok’s Seller Centre. This is where you will manage your store and all its features.

two women looking at a laptop screen

Once you are signed up, you can then connect Seller Centre to your feed manager via an official integration that will allow you to sync your catalogue from one place. In the Seller Centre console you will see integrations with other existing e-commerce platforms such as BigCommerce, reCommerce or some of the multichannel listing providers such as Linnworks. All of these potential connectors should reduce any friction and make your transition onto the platform as smooth as possible.

When going through the registration process, you will have two options, “Storefront transition to Shop” and “TikTok Shop Setup”.

If you are already a Shopify seller, you will want to opt for “Storefront transition to shop” as this will allow you to upgrade your account directly from your Shopify channel app. If not, selecting “Shop Setup” will allow to you register as a TikTok seller and link your account to your shop. Both options will require you to upload certain documents such as your company registration and photo ID. Once you have received confirmation that your shop has been approved, you should be ready to start selling.

Choose a channel

Adrian then described how there are effectively three channels in which your products can be sold; feed videos, product showcases and live shopping. When you log into the app, you will immediately see a continuous feed of videos which is personalized to your preferences. These different video formats all fall within TikTok’s scrolling experience, allowing users to seamlessly explore and purchase your products.

  • Feed videos are short-form content related to a particular product. These videos feature a small shopping cart icon. Any users who click on this icon will be presented with a product page, similar to those you see on Amazon or eBay. Here the customer will be able to browse through product details and reviews. From here, they can select “add to cart” or “buy now” for a seamless checkout process.
  • Product showcase videos appear when users visit your profile page to explore your content in more detail. Here, they will be able to see all the products you have listed on your TikTok Shop account and again go through that process of discovering product details and checking out.
  • Live streams are an incredibly powerful tool for promoting your brand. You may want to collaborate with creators or demo your products yourself. These live videos allow you to establish a direct connection with your audience and pin your products onto their home screen, again allowing them to click through to your product page for more details or to check out.
a GS1 barcode on a can

Listing your products

Listing a product is simple and intuitive. From Seller central, simply navigate to the “Product” section to add a new product, either one by one or in bulk.

Here you will need to provide basic information such as the product's name, category, variations, images etc.

After configuring the variations for your listing, you will then need to enter your GS1 GTIN under the Product Identifier.

For most categories, this a required field unless you have a legitimate exemption.

There are three ways you can upload listings and GTIN information.

  • Individually via TikTok Shop Seller Centre
  • In bulk via an excel file batch upload
  • At scale via a bespoke API connection or third-party plug-in

How to succeed

Next, Ryan shared a five-step roadmap for creating content that drives sales:

1. Make it feel like organic: People don’t like being sold something straight away. The best performing content does not feel intrusive to the user – it's perfectly in line with the content they actually want to consume.

2. Target the audience strategically: In e-commerce short videos, the products search the consumers, not the other way around. Once you've selected the product, think carefully about who you are addressing – use clear captions using relevant hashtags.

3. Think carefully about product selection:

  • Detail page: Make sure the product has high resolution images, and the description is well written and contains all the relevant details and features.
  • Price: Opt for lower priced products, especially if your fan base is not used to e-commerce videos. This will help drive purchasing adoption among your audience.
  • Functionality: Ask yourself, “is the product actually something the audience will use? Does it solve an everyday need?”
  • Demand: People only change certain products, such as phones or computers, every few years so the likelihood of you selling one will be lower than products with a high re-purchase rate or seasonality.
  • Novelty: Check current trends, hashtags and listen to what users are talking about.

4. Develop a clear call to action: For unfamiliar users, purchasing via a TikTok video may not feel intuitive, so the presenter should always guide users through the shop’s funnel. This could be done verbally, by physically pointing towards the product or via in-app stickers such as arrows. 

5. Repeat and scale: Consistency creates habits and builds trust. Top performers post on average three to four times per week using different formats, lengths, price points and hashtags. This helps them stay relevant, gain followers and remain top of mind.

woman creating TikTok video

Collaborate with creators

To drive even more sales, you can connect with TikTok creators through commission-based product marketing as part of the platform’s in-house affiliate programme. The programme currently offers two components:

  • Target plan: Sellers select specific creators to participate and feature their products. Only creators that merchants have selected will show products as available.
  • Open plan: Merchants can make products available publicly to any creators. Creators must apply to promote products and can only be approved by the seller.

The final component Ryan discussed was working with third parties, which he put into two categories.

TikTok Shop Partners (TSPs) are service providers that can help you with merchant development, e-commerce management, supply chain, logistics and even studio and content production, whether it be presenter management or strategy.

On the more creator-led side are Multi Channel Networks (MCNs) who manage e-commerce creator talents within the UK. They onboard creators at scale, manage them through direct collaboration, determine their capability and develop strategies to match.

Additional tools and resources

Ryan concluded by summarising some of the other tools and features offered by TikTok Shop to help new sellers succeed. If you’re not sure where to start in terms of producing engaging content that's optimised for driving sales, TikTok offers a number of solutions to support you, including:

Boost your organic presence

Visit TikTok Create Centre to discover what’s popular on the platform right now. Learn how to create high quality videos and find out what’s making other brands successful.

Increase paid visibility 

  • TikTok Marketing partners: A comprehensive list of all third-party companies that can provide support with Commerce, Creative, Campaign Management, Measurement etc.
  • TikTok Creative exchange: The self-serve platform to connect with certified creative experts and create native-looking videos for ad campaigns. 
  • TikTok Creator Marketplace: The official platform for brands and creators to connect and collaborate.

Ensure your shop's success 

The beauty of TikTok Shop is that there are so many ways to achieve success. One of the key understandings to bear in mind is that TikTok Shop is both an e-commerce marketplace and a social media channel. Leveraging both of these unique sides of the platform really allows you to drive both awareness and sales.


Guest opinion piece