There can be no doubt about the impact that TikTok has had on the ecommerce industry in the UK. Last year, small businesses on TikTok contributed £1.63 billion to UK GDP, according to a report from Oxford Economics. And it’s not just the UK; millions of users around the world are buying directly from the videos they scroll though on a daily basis.

TikTok has set the bar for customer expectations of what a smooth, content-led commerce experience should be like. And it’s a high bar.

Retailers must join the content commerce revolution that TikTok startedNick Morgan, CEO and Founder of Vudoo
Nick Morgan, CEO and Founder of Vudoo

The secret of TikTok’s success

The social media platform’s influence continues to grow rapidly. According to eMarketer’s forecasts, TikTok will increase its global audience to 900 million by 2024, accounting for 19.8% of all internet users. It’s the social media platform of an entire global generation of consumers, with more than one-third of TikTok users aged between 18 and 24.

The secret of TikTok’s success has been to merge video and human computer interaction (HCI) into a single interface, driving new customer behaviours and setting higher consumer expectations. The TikTok generation now takes for granted that when they watch a video, they can engage with it – and, in many cases, shop from it. And shoppers are able to add items from multiple sellers into one shopping cart, without leaving the app. TikTok has also harnessed an entire generation to be its content producers, and created a place where content and commerce are inextricably connected.

The platform is also increasing the support it offers to small businesses selling goods through the platform with its new ‘Fulfilled by TikTok’ functionality which launched in the UK in August 2023, meaning that sellers can create effortless purchasing experiences for customers.

But, TikTok is not the only player driving the content commerce revolution…

How Amazon is driving the content commerce revolution forward

While Amazon is undoubtedly a giant of e-commerce, and also has a large and comprehensive body of content in its Amazon Prime Video service, these two elements are not connected in the same way as with TikTok. Amazon has recognised the need to go further in its mission to connect its e-commerce offering to content, and developed Amazon Anywhere  an immersive commerce experience designed for virtual worlds and other interactive digital environments. Essentially, Amazon Anywhere allows consumers to discover and buy physical products without having to leave the game or app they are using, making a direct link between content and commerce. Like Fulfilled by TikTok, Amazon Anywhere gives small businesses the potential to offer more seamless commerce experiences in a way that boosts customer engagement.

Amazon had already been experimenting with other features intended to boost the customer experience, such as advertising through Snapchat’s Shopping Lenses, a virtual try-on function for glasses and sunglasses.

Snap is also playing its part in driving forward the content commerce space – it provides a range of AR-enabled tools for retailers, having identified that 92% of Gen Z shoppers want to use AR when buying clothes online.

How other retailers can make the link between content and commerce

E-commerce operators that want to drive conversions and increase gross merchandise value on their platforms must take advantage of these new behaviours that TikTok has nurtured. Retailers can also take valuable lessons from Amazon’s approach, as well as from other content commerce trailblazers like Snap who are creating success by connecting content and commerce.

Creating a smooth journey that enables consumers to buy products at the point of inspiration is key – whether that’s through a shoppable video in the case of TikTok or an augmented reality (AR) experience enabled through Amazon Anywhere. Interactive video and AR offer the potential for retailers to give consumers a choice of which products they look at, provide additional product information, show real-time pricing and availability, and even create personalised experiences.

The behaviours that consumers have learned from TikTok where they swipe, tap and scroll their way through huge volumes of content can be leveraged by other retailers that are prepared to experiment with interactive video. By using branching videos and clickable hotspots, retailers can track in-video decisions to capture the entire customer journey in real-time in order to better understand any barriers to conversion and inform their future content.

Takeaway: Retailers must adapt to new consumer behaviours

New norms of consumer behaviour are being driven and set by players like TikTok. Retailers that don’t adapt will lose out on the content commerce opportunity. The smart ones will evolve by tapping into interactive video and AR to create engaging, interactive content that lets consumers seamlessly purchase at the moment of their inspiration.

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Nick Morgan Updated headshot
Nick Morgan, CEO and Founder of Vudoo
CEO and Founder at Vudoo