Live streaming is transforming some of the small businesses who have taken advantage of it’s powerGETTY
“TikTok Shop LIVE has totally changed my business,” claims Sumayah Saadi, an LSE student who first set up her online shop aiming to provide affordable, modest fashion in February 2021 whilst still at university.
With over 55,000 followers, Saadi’s business has seen significant growth since embracing TikTok Shop LIVEIVE -0.5%s. “The first time we went live, just to try it, we made £500 in 30 minutes. I figured that was a great result for such a short time, so we kept going. Now, it’s not unheard of for us to generate £50,000 from UK sales only during a 2 hour live and I would love to be selling live all day every day,” she explains, speaking via a video call.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen merchants of all sizes transform their businesses through TikTok Shop, making the most of features like in-feed videos and livestreams to get their products in front of TikTok’s engaged community” says Patrick Nommensen, Senior Director, E-commerce Operations at TikTok.
“It has been amazing to see the range of merchants now selling through TikTok Shop, from household names to small homegrown businesses.”
Keen to encourage multi-seller events, TikTok has recently launched a series of TikTok Shop LIVE events. These have been hugely successful, with their recent Summer Sale event experiencing over 276 million LIVE views, and nearly 135 million views on associated hashtags.
The interactive nature of live selling makes it perfect for almost any type of products – from jewellery, accessories, luggage and an unexpected hit – football trading cards. Nommensen highlights beauty and fashion as two top performers, thanks to TikTok’s heritage as “a home for #beautyhacks and creative #makeuptransformations as well as emerging beauty brands.”
“Generating £10,000 of sales in a single session on TikTok Shop LIVE gave me confidence as a business owner” says Nisrin Kachar. A top creator since the beginning, she has grown her account from 260,000 to 480,000 followers since starting selling via TikTok Shop.
“With more choice in online shopping than every before, people love the interaction of live selling. It feels like having a trusted friend cutting through the overwhelm of endless choice and saying “you must try this”.
The most important thing is building trust and being authentic, which is why I refuse to promote anything that I don’t truly love,” explains Kachar.
“Part of TikTok’s magic is its ease of organic discoverability. Our content experience is curated to people’s interests and designed for exploration, meaning anyone and any brand can be discovered, no matter how many followers they have,” continues Nommensen.
What comes next?
With a customer who is increasingly comfortable with shopping in a social way, TikTok looks poised to capture the audience who want to buy from their favourite brands and creators. TikTok Shop LIVE is a major focus for the platform moving forward, with new features being continually developed to improve the shopping experience.
Nommensen explains: “these range from new tools and features such as running livestream sale events to help brands sell products, to providing our community with a seamless buying experience where they can purchase trending new items without ever leaving the platform.”
How to get started?
For any small businesses looking to make their mark on TikTok, remember that it is, as TikTok themselves describe it, “an entertainment platform first and foremost”.
“One great example is Made By Mitchell, a British Makeup Artist known for his authenticity and inclusive approach to makeup. The brand’s iconic item ‘blursh’ quickly become one of the hottest items on TikTok Shop due to the virality of Mitchell’s content, with his videos racking up over 500k likes,” highlights Nommensen.
Mitchell Halliday, founder of Made by Mitchell, likens selling on TikTok Shop LIVE to a “modern day QVCQVCA +5.4%”.
“People love to interact, and that interaction makes it feel less like watching a sales pitch and more like chatting with a friend,” he explains.
He advises businesses that are new to the platform to keep adapting, try something new every day and give your content plan a shake up every four-five weeks.
“Above all, stay close to your brand meaning. For me, education is such a strong focus, so although I will adapt and change the content to remain relevant, my values and brand meaning don’t change,” outlines Halliday.
Although it can be daunting to establish yourself on a new platform, it’s clear that the rewards are there for the brands prepared to take the leap.
As Nommensen puts it: “like any new channel, there’s testing and learning involved with TikTok Shop, but as long as merchants maintain an agile mindset and flexible approach, they can quickly find out what works and how to achieve success on the platform. Though it might seem like a leap at first, the overwhelming feedback from merchants, creators and our community is that it’s worth the effort.”
About the Author
Catherine Erdly is a small business retail expert and founder of The Resilient Retail Club
Forbes, American business magazine owned by Forbes, Inc. Published biweekly, it features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. Forbes also reports on related subjects such as technology, communications, science, and law. Headquarters are in New York City.
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