The Marketplace Boom   //   November 24, 2023

Brands on TikTok Shop are using livestreams to ramp up sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Brands are going live on TikTok Shop this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This year marks TikTok Shop’s first Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and some brands are using the platform’s livestream shopping capabilities to garner customers. Toy Brand Educational Insights, plans to go live every single day next week, either on its own or the creator’s channel. Shopify aggregator OpenStore, which owns almost 50 DTC brands, is also planning to feature products from five of its brands on livestream shopping events on TikTok.

On TikTok’s first holiday shopping season in the U.S., livestream shopping will be at the center of some brands’ customer acquisition strategies. In recent years, brands have slowly been experimenting with live shopping events but the format hasn’t fully caught on among American shoppers. TikTok’s livestreaming push, however, could change livestreaming’s trajectory in the U.S.

Alessandro Bogliari, CEO and co-founder of marketing firm The Influencer Marketing Factory, said that brands have a significant opportunity to reach new audiences and go viral on the platform. “No one that I personally know goes on Amazon every day. Everyone goes on TikTok multiple times a day,” Bogliari said. “The chance to buy something on social commerce, TikTok Shop primarily, is just way higher.”

TikTok officially launched its e-commerce business in September but it has been inviting some brands to test out the platform since earlier this year. The early TikTok Shop adopters like Educational Insights, which now has 250 SKUs live on TikTok Shop, saw sales climb 300% to 400% month-over-month when it first joined TikTok Shop. However, when the platform opened up to all sellers, Educational Insights said sales have since “plateaued.” BK Beauty previously told Modern Retail that it saw net new sales of about 10% to 20% from TikTok Shop transactions.

Educational Insights is hoping that livestreams will help pick up holiday sales. Alyssa Weiss, senior marketing manager at Educational Insights, said that the company chose to center its TikTok strategy around livestreams to bring more eyeballs to its products. The company has done livestream shopping events on Amazon, Meta and even TikTok but not at the scale it plans to for this holiday season. Educational Insights is tapping influencers like Silent Math and Danny Padilla to execute its strategy. In addition to the livestream, the company will also roll out 30% discounts.

“This is all brand new, the landscape of TikTok literally changes day to day,” Weiss said. “While the bulk of our sales are related to the short form short form videos, we find that these livestreams really bring people into the fold.” 

The bulk of Educational Insight’s sales come from short-form videos, Weiss said. But the company said it has seen how well creators can interact with viewers through livestreams. Educational Insights has benefitted from TikTok’s reach in the past with products like its Kanoodle puzzle game going viral.  

Weiss said that most of the company’s advertising budget will be dedicated to traditional channels, such as sponsored display platforms. Educational Insights also plans to roll out paid ads on TikTok. “It’s hard to make a prediction, but I would imagine over the next week or so we would see our sales double again,” Weiss said.

Alan Davidson, performance marketer at OpenStore, said that the company was drawn to the engagement that live shopping could offer. Products from its apparel brand Bahimi and playmat brand Copenhagen Kid will primarily be featured on these livestreams. To bring a sense of urgency from the audience, Davidson said that the company will feature exclusive, limited edition or newly released products. 

“It’s something relatively new but obviously we have to be where the consumers are,” Davidson said. “There’s going to be a lot of shopping on TikTok so it’s something that we’re really putting a lot of energy and effort into it.”

Davidson said that TikTok’s platform allows brands to match their products with different influencers. The company is working with family influencers like The Kowalskis and The Christiana Family. At the moment, the company said it is unsure how often its products will be featured on livestream.

Not all brands on TikTok Shop will be using livestream to promote their products on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Greg LaVecchia, CEO of supplements brand Bloom, said that the company will be applying its tried-and-true TikTok playbook of tapping influencers for traditional content and offering 20% off. 

“Simplicity scales and don’t fix what’s not broken,” LaVecchia said. “During a sale time, you’re going to have a higher conversion rate.” 

The Influencer Marketing Factory’s Bogliari said that because the platform is still new, some brands are still hesitant to dedicate a portion of their spending to TikTok Shop. He added that it could take some time for the platform to convince some brands to join.

“In anything that is new, it takes some time to learn,” he said. “Certain brands are early adopters and some are late adopters and they prefer to wait.”