Tap-to-buy mania: TikTok launches Shopping, and Insta drops Shop ads

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures
_"Hold on, let me shop this Tok" [Nick David/Stone via GettyImages]_

"Hold on, let me shop this Tok" [Nick David/Stone via GettyImages]

Bought it on Insta... The ads know you so well. Two big developments dropped this week in the world of "social commerce" — aka: shopping through social media. TikTok is testing "TikTok Shopping" tabs in North America and the UK through an expanded partnership with ecomm platform Shopify. Meanwhile, Instagram is launching advertising on its Shop feature globally.

  • Instagram Shop, which launched last year, lets businesses set up digital storefronts on their pages. In some cases, you can pay directly through Insta with Facebook Pay. FB gets a small fee per purchase.
  • TikTok Shopping: Should've been TikShop (TokShop?). Shopify merchants with a "TikTok For Business" account can add a “Shopping” tab to their profiles and create mini-storefronts. Kylie Cosmetics will be an early adopter. But shopping takes place in the merchant's Shopify-powered site.

"Link in bio"... So 2020. US social commerce sales are expected to exceed $35B this year, up 36% from 2020. New shopping features from TikTok and Insta are fuel for the creator economy, which relies on affiliate sponsorships. TikTok Shopping will give Shopify merchants — and their influencer partners — the ability to tag products in their videos. Instead of just posing next to a bottle of protein powder, you can also link it.


Social commerce = the friction-killer... from discovery to checkout. Our purchasing decisions are often influenced by social media — remove the friction, and ads become even more effective. You spot pleather boots in a post and buy them directly through Insta, instead of entering a Google rabbit hole. That seamlessness is extra-valuable for advertisers, which means social giants can charge even more for ads. That's why Twitter, Pinterest, and Snap are also doubling down on shopping features – think: branded makeup filters on Snap.