TikTok appears to be deepening its e-commerce forays with plans to operate its own warehouse in the United States. Such packing and shipping facilities are more associated with Amazon and Walmart than social media platforms best known for their addictive short videos.
In the past two weeks, TikTok has posted several job listings on LinkedIn, seeking candidates to help develop and expand its “Fulfillment by TikTok Shop” in the US to accommodate merchants using the app. looking for. According to the listing, TikTok plans to offer merchants options for warehousing, shipping and product returns.
A company spokeswoman declined to comment on TikTok’s U.S. ecommerce plans.
However, US job postings offer a window into the potential for expansion of US e-commerce. On some listings, TikTok is looking for candidates who can manage its free returns program, plan how to move inventory from one warehouse or business to another, and develop fulfillment services in the United States. said.
In another Seattle job listing, the company mentions a global e-commerce team and team members responsible for building a global warehouse network, indicating that plans could be even bigger. increase.
“The e-commerce industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, and with fierce competition among major internet companies, its future growth cannot be underestimated,” the company wrote in its job listing. “With millions of loyal users around the world, we believe TikTok is the ideal platform to offer our users a completely new and better e-commerce experience.”
Axios was the first to report the job posting.
Shopping on social media sites, known as social commerce, is a $37 billion market in the US, led by Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, according to Insider Intelligence. Beijing-based company ByteDance, which owns TikTok, already operates a thriving social media marketplace with his Douyin, a twin video app aimed at the Chinese market.
A TikTok spokesperson said the company is focused on “offering a range of product features and delivery options to merchants” in places where it currently has e-commerce programs, such as Southeast Asia and the UK.
About 23.7 million US shoppers are expected to make at least one purchase through TikTok this year, either by using an affiliate link or by conducting a transaction on the platform itself, according to the Insider Intelligence Project.
Some of those sales are already paying off. Communities such as #BookTok, his TikTok section dedicated to literature and reading, are credited with soaring romance novel sales this year.To accommodate more purchases, TikTok said last August it partners with Canadian e-commerce company Shopify will allow users to purchase items directly in the app.
TikTok has increased competition from Meta and other rivals, attracting younger users and hot influencers from YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. The site’s bite-sized funny clips are served by algorithms that seem to know what people want before they actually act.
The consequences are difficult to ignore. In July, Meta posted its first-ever revenue decline, partly due to competition from TikTok. Meanwhile, YouTube recently announced that it will be making short-form video creators eligible to participate in its revenue-sharing program. Previously, YouTube only allowed revenue sharing for longer videos.
Compared to digital advertising, e-commerce is a minor revenue stream for Meta and could be TikTok’s revenue stream in the near future. At the same time, TikTok management appears to be looking to expand the company’s revenue streams beyond advertising. In the US, it’s a market dominated by Meta and Alphabet, which own YouTube and Google.
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said TikTok’s reach and influence have made it a powerful force in advertising and sales, and by building its capabilities in warehouses and other facilities, it’s becoming a full-service retailer. said it will be able to provide
“This will be an additional revenue stream and will improve the quality of the consumer shopping experience,” Sanders said. But a full-scale shift to warehousing would be an expensive undertaking, and TikTok would face established competitors such as his Amazon and Walmart.
“But with TikTok’s huge audience and huge customer base, there’s enough demand for this to make sense,” Sanders said. “TikTok maintains its popularity. If it does, it could pose a threat to the incumbent and become a highly destructive force.”
Others have taken a different tone.
“Ridiculous,” said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. “They have no chance to compete and it’s a complete waste of money and time.”