The social commerce industry in the UK is predicted to more than double in the next four years, rising from £7.4 billion to almost £16 billion by 2028, according to a new report from Retail Economics, in partnership with TikTok. This growth means social commerce will comprise 10% of the total online commerce market, up from 6% today, growing at four times the rate of overall ecommerce sales.

According to the research, more than half (56%) of UK users have made a purchase directly through social media, either by clicking a link on shoppable content or checking out directly within an app. This figure rises to almost three quarters (73%) for those under 45, with one in four (24%) Millennials purchasing on social media at least once a month. TikTok users lead the way in social commerce penetration, with 44% having made a purchase directly on TikTok, and one in four purchasing on the platform at least once a month.

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Growth in social commerce is being driven by the rise in “community commerce,” where community, engagement, and shopping come together on social platforms, driving purchasing and engagement both before and after checkout. More seamless social integrations with ecommerce and the increasing uptake of shoppable formats such as live shopping and interactive ads are also key drivers accelerating the growth of the social commerce market.

As a result, four in five (82%) of users now engage in shopping-related activities like browsing products, following brands, and watching live shopping events. Social and entertainment platforms are also overtaking traditional search engines for product inspiration, with 31% of UK consumers believing these platforms are best for finding inspiration and ideas to buy, compared to 28% for traditional search engines.

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Meanwhile, over half (54%) of online shoppers find browsing for products on social and entertainment platforms more satisfying than shopping on retail websites or in physical stores, indicating that community commerce is driving further appeal than more traditional formats.

Paul Mears, Group Vertical Director, Retail & E-commerce, TikTok UK, said: “TikTok is at the heart of a new type of shopping culture, blending community, commerce, and entertainment to make it easier for people to discover, research, and buy new and trending products. We’ve helped to make social commerce more participatory and interactive than ever. From brands and creators launching hugely entertaining TikTok LIVE shopping events, to shoppers sharing their unfiltered and authentic reviews about the latest products they’ve bought on our growing marketplace, TikTok Shop. As the buying power of Gen Z and Millennials increases, brands and retailers will need to continue investing in their presence, as more and more consumers embrace social and entertainment platforms for all their shopping needs.”

Richard Lim, CEO of Retail Economics, said: “Social commerce has been around for a few decades, but we’re seeing it really pick up momentum in the past few years, driven by short-form video platforms like TikTok. These platforms have helped to break down some of the barriers that have held back widespread uptake in the past, using better technology and more accessible commerce formats to create a seamless shopping experience all within one place. Add hugely entertaining creators and content into the mix, and we’ve now got a magic formula that is accelerating the growth of social commerce in a way that we haven’t seen before.”

Beauty and apparel are the most popular categories for social commerce, with over one in three shoppers having made a purchase in these areas on social media. From established fashion retailers and brands such as Zara and PUMA, to trending TikTok-born beauty brands like P Louise Makeup and Made by Mitchell, beauty and fashion are leading the rapid rise in social commerce, creating entertaining, inspirational, and authentic content to drive deep engagement and purchasing.

This week, make-up artist Mitchell Halliday, the founder and CEO of British beauty brand Made By Mitchell, became the first brand in the UK to hit $1 million in sales in one day on TikTok Shop, on the first day of TikTok Shop’s Summer Sale event. The beauty brand’s success was down to a 12-hour LIVE marathon which offered exclusive discounts live from Manchester on a range of Made By Mitchell’s most viral products, including the viral Liquid Blursh and Curve Case Cream Makeup Palettes. This 12-hour session saw one product sell every single second and resulted in $830k in sales, contributing to the brand hitting its $1 million TikTok Shop milestone in just 24 hours.