TikTok reverses course, will offer live shopping in the US

The news: TikTok is set to partner with TalkShopLive to bring live shopping to the US just months after abandoning a similar initiative, per a Financial Times report.

Under the agreement, which has yet to be finalized, TalkShopLive would provide infrastructure and support for the shopping livestreams while TikTok would initially cover the platform’s commission charges on livestreaming sales.

An uncertain market: Live shopping hasn’t taken off among US and European audiences the way social platforms hoped it would. Only 17% of US adults have shopped via livestream or video commerce, per a Bizrate Insights survey conducted for Insider Intelligence.

  • TikTok’s UK live shopping initiative has struggled with poor sales, cooling interest among influencers and brands, and limited consumer awareness, causing the platform to rethink expansion plans.
  • Facebook sunsetted its live shopping feature as parent company Meta refocuses on advertising revenues over social commerce.

The big takeaway: Partnering with TalkShopLive allows TikTok to get live shopping off the ground faster without expending too many resources—an attractive proposition for a company whose European operating losses alone totaled $895.6 million in 2021, per The Information. It also makes it easier for the platform to retreat should results prove lackluster.

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast