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How to Sell on TikTok: Expand Your eCommerce Business

Written by Marc Guberti

Marc Guberti is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who has been a finance freelance writer
for five years. He has covered personal finance, investing, banking, credit cards, business
financing, and other topics.
Marc’s work has appeared in US News & World Report, USA Today, Investor Place, and other
publications. He graduated from Fordham University with a finance degree and resides in
Scarsdale, New York.
When he’s not writing, Marc enjoys spending time with the family and watching movies with
them (mostly from the 1930s and 40s). Marc is an avid runner who aims to run over 100
marathons in his lifetime.

Updated April 8, 2024​

7 min. read​

eCommerce businesses can tap into various platforms to reach new customers and generate more sales. While Instagram, Amazon, and Google have been around for more than a decade, more companies are turning to TikTok to increase their traction. Selling on TikTok can be a boon for your eCommerce business, as the platform can make small businesses go viral.

This guide will explore how to sell on TikTok and cover some strategies to maximize your profits on the social network.

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The Rise of TikTok in eCommerce

TikTok was released in September 2016 and gained fame due to its 15-second video clips. In October 2018, the social network became the most downloaded app in the United States and now has more than three billion downloads.

TikTok generates a lot of engagement and has transformed some people’s careers. Some consistent TikTok creators have gotten sponsorship deals and a substantial increase in product sales. eCommerce business owners will pursue opportunities that they believe can lead to more customers.

The social network’s 15-second video clips are especially useful for eCommerce store owners. The format gives business owners enough time to promote their products while keeping their content engaging for viewers. Some TikTok Shops make more than $1 million each week. While that’s an exceptional result rather than the norm, the existence of these results has inspired others to follow suit.

Who Should Consider Selling on TikTok

Any business owner should consider selling on TikTok. With more than one billion monthly active users, TikTok is the fourth-largest social media platform in the world. It is growing quickly and has the potential to surpass Instagram.

That type of growth and its existing audience means your target audience is likely somewhere within those one billion monthly active users. Online businesses can benefit the most from TikTok since they can serve international audiences.

Local businesses can still do well with the app, but a smaller percentage of their followers will be within the company’s range. In most cases, a TikTok viewer in California isn’t going to make the trek to New York just to do business with a local company. eCommerce store owners don’t have to worry about that disadvantage since they can serve customers worldwide.

How to Sell on TikTok: Setting Up Your Shop

TikTok Shop presents a great opportunity for eCommerce owners. You can follow these steps to start selling products on TikTok.

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1. Create a TikTok Business Account

You will need a TikTok Business account to open a shop. TikTok lets you upgrade your personal account into a business account so you can access additional features. TikTok will provide some instructions as you convert your personal account into a business account.

2. Select Your Product Catalog

Product catalogs make it easier to display products and categorize your inventory. You will have to log into the TikTok Ads Manager to create a catalog. After you create a catalog, you can upload products to it.

3. Set Up the Product Tab in Your Profile

eCommerce business owners can offer their products through TikTok Shop. Your store will show up in your profile’s product tab. TikTok offers customization for the products tab based on recommended products, best sellers, and new releases.

4. Create Content Promoting Your Products

TikTok’s 15-second video format has been a big hit. It takes less time to work with and forces businesses to get straight to the point. Concise content is easier to create than detailed YouTube video reviews that can be more than 10 minutes. It takes less time to create content for TikTok, but you still have to make it engaging.

Top-performing TikTok videos in your industry offer clues on what works. You can also branch outside of your niche and consider why certain videos generated a lot of buzz on the platform. Using these clips as inspiration can help you create engaging TikTok videos that win over new customers.

5. Doing Livestreams and Engaging with Your Audience

Livestreams build relatability and can make followers feel as if they know more about you and your eCommerce store. TikTok pushes live streams, and you’ll get even more love from the algorithm if you engage with your audience. Business owners can also use livestreams to promote new products and bring awareness to special discounts for existing inventory.

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Effective TikTok Advertising Strategies

It’s possible to grow organically on TikTok, but advertising can get you to the front of the line. These are some of the components that can strengthen your TikTok advertising strategy.

Creating Engaging Videos

Look at TikTok videos with significant engagement as inspiration. You do not have to reinvent the wheel and can stick with ideas and formats that work. It’s a good idea to sprinkle in your own type of style from time to time so consumers can differentiate you from other eCommerce brands.

Using TikTok Ads

TikTok ads allow you to show up for relevant search results and get in front of your target audience. You can set your daily budget and adjust your advertising campaigns at any time. Creating the ad is the easy part. However, business owners must monitor their ads or work with specialists to generate meaningful profits from their ad campaigns.

The TikTok Ad Manager includes resources designed to bolster your campaigns. You can use creative tools to make your videos more engaging and review analytics to see how well your ads are performing. TikTok also makes it easy to add music, text, creative effects, transitions, and other elements to their content.

Incorporating Hashtags and Challenges

Hashtags increase your post’s discoverability. X, formerly known as Twitter, introduced hashtags in 2007, and they have become an important discoverability resource for most social networks.

While hashtags are a good starting point, you can get more traction if you combine them with TikTok Challenges. These challenges invite viewers to post a video of themselves performing an action. For example, an eCommerce business owner selling fitness products may do push-ups in the video while promoting a product. That business owner may then invite viewers to record a video of themselves doing a push-up with a specific hashtag. Business owners who master this strategy will have hundreds or even thousands of people post new content using the designated hashtag.

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Boosting Organic Reach Through Collaborations

You don’t have to grow your eCommerce store alone. Many businesses collaborate with fellow business owners and influencers to reach more people. Finding creators in your industry and agreeing to promote each other can help you both gain followers. You can also collaborate by appearing in each other’s videos and regularly commenting on each other’s TikTok videos. Commenting on TikTok puts you in front of more people.

Working with Influencers

Collaborations allow you and the other person to gain followers. However, some influencers would rather accept cash than participate in a collaboration. Some TikTok eCommerce business owners pay influencers to promote their products. These influencers get engagement from their audiences, and some of those followers may visit your eCommerce store.

This strategy has a lot of variability. Business owners should prioritize an influencer’s engagement over the number of followers that person has. Micro-influencers are a good group to contact. These influencers have fewer than 10,000 followers and typically charge lower rates since they don’t receive as many sponsorship requests.

Other Tips to Drive Sales on TikTok

TikTok advertising and posting content can often attract customers to your e-commerce store. However, you can use additional tactics to build momentum for your TikTok Shop.

Know Target Audience

Knowing your target audience will guide everything that you do for your eCommerce business. Every business owner should design a customer avatar that details a prospect’s interests, demographics, pain points, objectives, and other characteristics. Some companies craft an imaginary person to make the customer avatar feel more concrete.

eCommerce business owners should review their metrics and look for customer patterns. If most of your customers are 40-50 years old, you should prioritize creating content for that age group. Business owners should adjust their strategies as new data arrives.

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Optimize Time and Frequency

TikTok offers a lot of valuable insights that help businesses reach more people. The social network has a “Follower activity” section within the Followers tab. The “Follower activity” segment shows the best times to post based on when your followers are on the app.

Posting when most of your followers are using TikTok is likely to increase the average engagement you receive from each post. Ramping up your posting frequency can also help as you will become a familiar presence in your followers’ TikTok feeds.

Analyze and Evaluating Your Campaigns

The best business owners and marketers regularly review their TikTok advertising campaigns. You should review your campaigns at least once per week to see any changes in engagement. Turning off unprofitable campaigns will free up more capital to allocate toward profitable campaigns.

It’s normal for eCommerce businesses to run multiple TikTok ad campaigns at the same time. You can even duplicate profitable TikTok ads and see if you can make a small tweak that improves overall performance. Modifying only one variable in these A/B split tests allows businesses to determine which change brought forth better results.

How to Finance the Expansion of Your eCommerce Business

Expanding your eCommerce business is exciting since it means you’ll make more money. However, not every business owner has enough capital to invest in TikTok ad campaigns, influencer marketing, and other parts of the process. Sometimes, it takes money to make money. Getting financing from the right funding sources can provide a lump sum without causing cash flow distress.

eCommerce store owners should consider revenue-based financing as a financing solution. This funding source offers a lump sum, and monthly payments are based on a percentage of gross revenue for that month. This structure allows you to make lower monthly payments if your business doesn’t perform as well. Revenue-based financing often has lower credit score requirements. These lenders place a strong focus on applicants fulfilling a minimum annual gross revenue requirement.

Traditional loans and business lines of credit are also available. However, these financial products often have more stringent requirements and can take longer to receive. Traditional loans also have fixed monthly payments, which can pressure your cash flow during a slower month.

For eCommerce businesses seeking a financing solution tailored for the industry, Stenn offers a revenue-based financing option. With a proven track record of over $20 Billion in funding to numerous eCommerce and SaaS businesses, Stenn has established itself as a trusted company in helping these types of companies access the working capital needed to fuel growth. Their streamlined solution provides quick and efficient funding, flexible repayment terms, and funds tied to your revenue. Submit an online inquiry to learn more with no obligation or to determine how much funding your eCommerce business can qualify for.

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Conclusion: Maximizing TikTok’s eCommerce Features to Expand Your Business

Every eCommerce business owner wants to gain market share and attract new customers. Some marketing channels are better than others, but few of them compare to TikTok. The social network has more than one billion monthly active users who spend a lot of time on the site.

High engagement rates from the company’s 15-second video format can catapult eCommerce businesses into superstardom. Setting up your TikTok Shop and posting consistently can give you a good foundation. After you have this foundation and continue to post often, TikTok Ads and influencer campaigns are a good next step. TikTok offers analytics that make it easier to see how your campaigns are performing.

TikTok growth is a long-term strategy. Some businesses run ads for months or years before exhibiting viral growth, but you don’t have to go viral to win on this platform. Achieving steady growth each year has become underrated as most businesses pray that they will become viral. Using the company’s eCommerce features and the strategies in this guide can generate sustainable success that lasts for many years instead of fizzling out after releasing a viral hit.

FAQs About Selling on TikTok

How much does it cost to sell on TikTok?

TikTok will charge an 8% referral fee per order in July 2024. The social network has been gradually raising its referral fee to ease TikTok Shop owners into the new price. This expense does not include TikTok ads or paying influencers to promote your products or eCommerce store.

What kind of products can you sell on TikTok?

You can sell any type of product on TikTok. eCommerce stores, cosmetics companies, toy brands, and other businesses are using TikTok to reach more customers.

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