How to get started with your TikTok ecommerce strategy

Barney Cox
10
minute read
Written By
Barney Cox
September 4, 2023

$130,000 in sales. A 270% increase in revenue. All for a customer acquisition cost of $0.

That’s the results underwear brand Huha had when one of their videos went viral on TikTok last year. Here’s what their founder had to say about it:

@wearhuha What a viral tiktok video actually means for a #smallbusiness 💖 thank you to everyone for your comments, shares, and ORDERS from my previous video. Much love! #womeninbusinesstiktok #smallbusinesscheck ♬ The Journey - Sol Rising

(Shout-out to the fantastic DTC Newsletter who originally featured this!)

The bottom line: if you’re not already, it’s time to take TikTok for ecommerce seriously. This guide will walk you through how to create a TikTok ecommerce strategy. We’ll cover why you should use the platform, setting yourself up with a business account and how to create your brand’s TikTok Shop. To wrap things up, we’ll leave with content ideas from other DTC businesses.

Then the rest is up to you! You never know, it could be the next channel you add to your ecommerce marketing strategy.

4 reasons TikTok is good for ecommerce

The short answer: yes. Social commerce is booming and TikTok will become an increasingly important part of it. In 2023 a staggering 1.7 billion monthly users are on the platform, making it one of the most popular social media apps around. And it’s an influential purchase driver, with 49% of users saying the social platform helped them decide whether to buy a product.

Still not convinced? Here’s 4 reasons why the social media platform is important for ecommerce:

1. TikTok gets high engagement rates

TikTok's algorithm prioritises content that captures users' attention quickly. This means that small ecommerce businesses can have the chance of creating viral content and reaching a wider audience.

2. Users love TikTok Shopping

TikTok has shopping features that let brands establish virtual storefronts within the app. Shoppers can explore, browse, and purchase products without leaving TikTok. Nifty, huh? We’ll cover how to set up your own TikTok Shop further down the article.

3. TikTok has a thriving influencer community

TikTok is one of the best social media channels for working with influencers. If you partner with TikTok influencers, your ecommerce brand could engage with a highly-engaged audience. Influencers can genuinely promote products, get your brand in front of your target audience, offer valuable reviews, and drive both traffic and sales.

4. You can reach TikTok's diverse user base

TikTok boasts over a billion active users worldwide. While it's known for its popularity among Gen Z, the platform's user base is increasingly diverse, including millennials and older demographics.

Setting up your brand’s TikTok account

To create a TikTok for Business account, you’ll need a smart phone and access to the internet. If your company provides you with a business phone, download the app on that. If you have to use your personal one, I’d suggest turning off TikTok notifications so you’re able to switch off from work in your downtime.

Here’s the steps to follow:

1. Download the app: Just head to whatever app store your phone’s operating system uses and download TikTok.

2. Create a personal profile: You’ll have to create a ‘personal’ profile first - either by popping in your email or signing up with your work Windows or Google account.

3. Switch to a TikTok business account: Go to your profile and select the menu from the top-right, then ‘setting and privacy’. That’ll take you to a full menu of options. Under ‘Account’ heading, select ‘Manage account’ and then pick ‘switch to Business Account’. It’ll ask you to select which industry your business is in.

4. Fill in your profile: Almost there! Now all you have to do is brand your profile, include a link to your site and write a short description of what your company is all about.

5. Log in on your work computer: This one’s optional. But if you want to dip in and see how your posts are doing and reply to comments, it might be easier to do that from your work computer. TikTok lets you do this - you just won’t be able to create content through your desktop browser.

6. Now start posting your TikToks!: If you’re not sure where to start, TikTok’s Creative Suite is great for content ideas. It collects videos from businesses which are doing particularly well, and you can sort by most views, comments or shares.

TikTok_business-account

Once you’re done, you’ll have access to the ‘Business Suite’ where you can view your post analytics and manage any TikTok advertising campaigns you end up running.

Creating a TikTok Shop for your business

TikTok Shop is a social commerce platform that allows your brand to create a virtual storefront directly on their TikTok profile. This storefront lets users browse and purchase products without leaving the app. Why’s that helpful? Because you’re letting TikTok users buy where they are already, rather than forcing them to leave TikTok. (If anyone who uses TikTok is reading this, you know how hard it is to stop scrolling. 😅)

Maintaining one could be a key part of your TikTok ecommerce strategy. Here’s what Cult Beauty’s TikTok Shop looks like. It highlights their products, lets you browse different lines, and read reviews of recent purchases.

TikTok-Shop-Benefits

Setting up a shop also means your products will be seen when people are browsing the Shopping Tab when using TikTok search.

Want to take advantage of social shopping on the platform? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set up your TikTok Shop:

  1. Make sure you’re legible: Your business will need to meet the social media platform's eligibility criteria for a shop. This usually includes having a TikTok For Business account and sticking to their commerce policies.
  2. Connect with Shopify: TikTok has partnered with Shopify, a leading ecommerce platform (who Dash also integrates with, just saying). In your Shopify dashboard, add the TikTok channel and follow the integration steps. This will link your online store with your TikTok Shop.
  3. Integrate your product catalogue: Once connected, you can start adding your products to your TikTok Shop through Shopify. Just make sure your product catalogue is up to date with high-quality images, product links and detailed descriptions.
  4. Enable TikTok Shopping: This bit will make sure shoppers can actually buy from you on TikTok. To do this, go to your TikTok For Business account, select ‘Commerce Manager’ and check the TikTok Shopping feature.

6 TikTok content ideas from other DTC businesses

You’ve set up your business profile and your TikTok Shop. Now you need to create organic content to drive engagement and visits to your account. This is going to be a key part in whether TikTok becomes a sales driver for your ecommerce business. So where do you begin? Here’s inspiration taken from scaling DTC brands using TikTok as a key part of their content strategy.

Note: No big name brands with huge marketing departments here! These examples are from ambitious, growing ecommerce brands with small marketing teams. Just like you!

1. Be authentic

First stop on our magical TikTok inspiration tour, let’s go back to where this article started and look at underwear brand Huha. In the viral video founder Alexa Suter was talking about, she tells the story of why she founded her brand. It’s not hard to see why it took off. It’s educational, speaks to a common problem women often suffer with (UTI infections), and offers hope with a solution that worked for Alexa - her own products.

Their TikTok is well worth a scroll through. Combining body positivity, humour and authenticity, their videos regularly clock up to 30,000 views.

Takeaway 💡 - If you have a story, tell it. Everyone loves a story and it’s one of the things that makes your brand unique. Be like Alexa and describe how your brand and products can come into being. It’ll help potential customers relate to your company.

2. Feature real, relatable people

UK skincare company Madeby is a great example of how to run an account perfectly pitched to your target audience. They mix educational product content with memes, so watching a post like this is actually entertaining. And they’ve coupled it with relatable, funny vox pops from street interviews. Like this one, where this poor person struggles to pronounce La Roche-Posay (honestly, same). It all feels fresh and perfectly on-brand.

Madeby-TikTok

Still from Madeby's TikTok account

Takeaway 💡 - Being authentic is so hard for brands to get right - and it’s properly cringe when they get it wrong. Take a leaf from Madeby, instead. Try featuring relatable voxpops from your customers.

3. Don't be afraid to show off your product

Postal cookie company Love Clever Cookie’s TikTok is good enough to eat. Their products look fantastic (I WILL be ordering a box) so it’s a smart decision to feature them pride and place throughout their feed. They use satisfying ASMR-like clips of cutting cookies and voice-over videos of their founder going through the latest flavours. With almost 250,000 followers, it’s a strategy that’s clearly working well for them. Delicious!

Takeaway 💡 - Don’t be afraid to create content that puts your products front and centre. Find a way to showcase them in their best light and go for it! You only have a limited amount of time before a TikTok user continues scrolling, anyway.

4. Use viral audio clips and hashtags

Oprah-approved Clevr Blends make oat milk SuperLattes from mushrooms, antigens and probiotics. They’re pretty cool in our book - and that’s not just because they’re a Dash customer! 😇

Clevr Blend’s TikTok account makes great use of trending audio clips and viral hashtags to showcase their products in a relatable way - like this one.

Their most popular video, with 11,000 likes to date, is a short and satisfying clip of their Golden SuperLatte being poured into a glass, lit by gorgeous (and appropriate) golden hour sunlight. It includes the hashtag #morningroutine. Not only is it super relevant to their product, the hashtag has also clocked up 9.2 billion views.

@clevrblends You literally just add water 🤷‍♀️🌈🍄 #instantcoffee #latte #morningroutine ♬ original sound - wearjutieats

Takeaway 💡 - Using trending audio clips, hashtags and hashtag challenges are a great way to promote your products. If you can make it relevant to your brand, you’re onto a winner!

5. Mix up your content

Creators of the iconic Low Top sneaker, Filling Pieces fuse streetwear and high fashion for an affordable price tag. They’re also another Dash customer - represent! ✌️

With a young, fashionable customer base, the platform is a perfect outlet for the brand. So it’s no surprise their content is killing it on the platform, regularly racking up video views climbing toward the million mark. One of the keys to their success is a varied feed full of funny memes, product unboxing, sale hypes and giveaways.

FillingPieces-TikTok

Still from Filling Piece's TikTok account

Takeaway 💡 - Variety is the spice of life. Creating a diverse TikTok feed stops your followers from getting bored and lets you experiment with different types of content to see what works best.

6. Be aspirational 

Linen bedding brand Piglet in Bed offers a masterclass in how to create aspirational content perfectly-attuned to their audiences. Their posts match the cottage core fantasy their audience yearn for - and boy, do they make the most of it. Scrolling through their TikTok, with dreamy videos of cosily-made beds in the countryside dressed in their beautiful linens, it’s hard to not want a linen set of your own!

@pigletinbed Hot chocolate, gingham sheets, knitted robes and movies in bed are calling me 😌 @myoldpub #fallaesthetic #autumnvibes #fall #englishcottage #spookyseason #autumnaesthetic #pigletinbed ♬ original sound - gilmoregirlstok

Takeaway 💡 - Know thy customer. You’re not just selling a product, you’re selling a lifestyle. Capture this in your content and you’ll be on to a winner.

7. Turn customers into micro-influencers

Olipop run a refreshing (they’re a drinks brand, okay, give me a break) TikTok account with a follower count of almost 40k. It’s stock full of content you could use to inspire your own.

But the ‘super cool’ part? They automate creating TikTok user-generated content, making it part of the checkout process on the website. Turning happy customers into micro-influencers is a genius influencer marketing idea, in our books.

Here’s them explaining how it works:

@drinkolipop #greenscreen Reply to @aamaraaxo this is not a drill🚨!! you don’t need a following, just OLIPOP & TikTok 😉 #drinkolipop #olipop #paidbranddeals #olipoptiktok #soda #healthysoda #microinfluencers #contentcreatorswanted #bountyapp #ugc #contentcreation ♬ original sound - Ajani

They’re using a service called Bounty to help run it. And it’s pretty simple - for every 100 views, you get a $1. A quick search for the brand on TikTok turns up loads of UGC of people enjoying their drinks, so it must be doing pretty well for them!

Takeaway 💡- Social is social, first and foremost. User-generated content is a fantastic way to have micro-influencers promote your brand for you. It allows your ecommerce business to reach a niche audience and creates a buzz around your products.

Roundup - best practices for brands on TikTok

Here’s what we learnt from looking at the brands above:

  1. Tell your story: It’s what makes your brand unique, after all.
  2. Be authentic: You’re talking to real people at the end of the day. Don’t be afraid to be authentic and personable, nobody wants to feel like they’re being hard sold to.
  3. Showcase your products: Don’t be afraid to go in for the hard sell every now and then. Use TikTok to feature your products in their best light.
  4. Use viral clips and trends: Using viral audio increases your video’s chance of going viral, too. Just make sure you can relate it back to what you do.
  5. Mix up your content: Don’t let the same old format get stale. Experiment with different types of content of varying lengths and see what works best.
  6. Know thy customer: You’re selling a lifestyle as well as your products. Make sure you’re making the most of that in your TikTok videos.
  7. Embrace UGC: Use platforms like Bounty to get your UGC programme off the ground and turn a customer into a content creator.

Get your TikTok content in order

You’re ready to take advantage of social commerce and want to create original content for your TikTok. Before you dive in, take a minute to think about how you want to store, organise and use the videos you’re about to create.

Why? Because if you’re an ecommerce marketer, you’ll already be dealing with loads of assets every day - like product shots, email graphics, video ads and Shopify banners. How do you want to store it all and make it accessible to the rest of your team?

Google Drive, you say? There’s a better way. Using a flexible, affordable digital asset management (DAM) tool like Dash is the way to go. You can tag your video content by how well it performed, share easily with your team - and move all your other visual contents into Dash while you’re at it. Try it yourself for free and see what you think.

For extra reading, check out how DAMs can level-up your social media marketing and how to use Dash as your marketing asset management tool.

Barney Cox

Barney is the Marketing Lead for Dash. He writes about small business marketing strategies and how DTC brands can boost sales.

Read more about
Barney Cox

Create the home for your brand's visual content

Speed up the time it takes to get content in front of customers. Upload images and video to Dash. Then send them out to your channels in a few clicks.

Start your free trial - no credit card needed

Search and filter for content in Dash