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TikTok Experiments with In-Stream Shopping Features in the United States

TikTok tests a new Shop tab feature among select U.S. users, focusing on in-stream shopping. Amidst the high stakes, the move could be risky, especially with consumer trust issues looming.

TikTok Tests In-Stream Shopping Feature in the U.S.

TikTok has taken a bold new step in eCommerce with its introduction of a Shop tab in its app interface for a selected audience in the United States. Placed between the "For You" and "Following" feeds, the tab is anything but discreet.

The Shop tab features a plethora of products, mostly from China, presented in a scrollable feed. A significant focus is on "Today's Deals," with an emphasis on trending and viral items.

This strategy isn't entirely new for TikTok, as its mainland Chinese version, Douyin, successfully capitalizes on in-stream commerce, making it a primary income source. However, TikTok's Western audience has been less than enthusiastic about combining shopping with social media, creating a challenge for the short-form video platform.

The stakes are high as some of the products come from Chinese sellers previously banned on Amazon for fraudulent reviews. This could potentially compromise user trust, which is already a fragile aspect of social commerce on platforms like Facebook.

While eCommerce giants like Amazon and eBay have built a reputation for trustworthiness, social apps like TikTok have a long way to go to win over Western audiences. Previous attempts, like live-stream shopping, had to be scaled back due to lukewarm reception.

With lessons learned from failed experiments and from observing the pitfalls of Facebook's in-stream shopping attempts, TikTok's new venture is treading on risky ground. But will this latest in-stream shopping push finally convince Western users to engage in social shopping or simply erode trust further? Only time will tell.

For now, the industry is closely watching TikTok, curious to see if this new approach will break the mold or join the list of social media's unsuccessful eCommerce ventures.

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