October 24, 2022
Earlier this month, the short-form video hosting service TikTok listed a number of job openings on LinkedIn which give the clear impression that the world’s most popular website intends to branch out into Ecommerce in a big way. A job listing for a “Business Solutions and Merchant Development Manager, Global Fulfillment Centre” explicitly states, “TikTok is looking to build an international e-commerce fulfillment system that will include international warehousing, customs clearings and supply chain systems that support domestic e-commerce efforts in the U.S. and cross-border e-commerce efforts. The systems will eventually perform parcel consolidation, along with transporting goods from one stage to the next and managing free returns.”
The job posting explains the company’s rationale: “With millions of loyal users globally, we believe TikTok is an ideal platform to deliver a brand new and better e-commerce experience to our users. We are looking for passionate and talented people to join our global fulfillment centre team. Together we can build an e-commerce ecosystem that is innovative, secure and intuitive for our users.”
TikTok, owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, is based in Beijing. Its mission is “to inspire creativity and bring joy.” The TikTok app hosts user-generated videos that range in length from 15 seconds to 10 minutes and span such genres as song and dance, and tricks and pranks. TikTok’s artificial intelligence (AI) decides which videos to serve based on each user’s reactions to content previously viewed. Specifically, as users note that they like, or interact with certain videos, the app will present similar or related videos.
TikTok has experienced meteoric growth since its 2017 launch in IOS and Android versions. It took the app less time to achieve the milestone of one billion users than any other app to date. TikTok’s U.S. user base numbers more than 100 million, and American users spend on average, 80 minutes a day on the app. Hurt by TikTok’s rapid rise, Facebook’s parent, Meta, and YouTube have launched their own short-form video apps. Meta’s version is called Reels and YouTube introduced YouTube Shorts.
U.S. retail sales generated from social sites (“social commerce”) are expected to exceed $50 billion this year and to double by 2025. Facebook is the clear leader in social commerce today.
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