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TikTok Aims To Sell Billion$ In Chinese Goods To U.S. Shoppers

By Belal Awad · July 31, 2023

In brief…

  • TikTok plans to expand into e-commerce, selling Chinese goods to U.S. customers
  • The Chinese company aims to grow its sales from $5 billion to $20 billion.
  • The 'TikTok Shopping Center' will be a marketplace for users to view and purchase goods.
  • TikTok's move comes amid concerns over user data security.
  • Some experts are skeptical over TikTok's e-commerce venture due to potential trust issues.
TikTok plans to do a deep dive into e-commerce over the coming year.  TikTok

Hugely popular social media platform, TikTok, is planning to venture into e-commerce by selling Chinese-made goods to customers in the United States. The company aims to replicate the success of platforms such as Shein and Temu with the launch of the “TikTok Shopping Center” in August according to The Wall Street Journal. Cyber-security expert Bill Mew told BBC, “The plan is to increase the total net value of transactions on TikTok from $5 billion last year to $20 billion this year.”

The new marketplace will serve as a one-stop-shop for users to view and purchase goods, with TikTok acting as the intermediary for Chinese retailers, handling all marketing and logistics.

The move comes amid growing troubles for TikTok, Mew explained, “as the platform faces heightened scrutiny over users’ data security. Back in April, Montana became the first US state to ban the app on personal devices. Now TikTok is fighting to prevent that [from] becoming a US-wide reality.”

Mew is skeptical about TikTok’s new venture, noting that while many major platforms aspire to dominate advertising, social media, and e-commerce, achieving success in all three areas is easier said than done.”

Just because you’re good at one thing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to translate into others,” Mew said, citing Google and Facebook’s failed attempts to expand into new sectors. “Facebook, which is very good at what it does and has a dominant position in social and also in advertising, tried to get in more heavily into e-commerce with payments with its platform, Libra. That failed abysmally, and largely on the basis of trust. This is going to be one of the areas where TikTok is really going to struggle,” he added.

Mew also highlighted the importance of trust, an area where he believes TikTok may struggle due to its Chinese roots.

While other analysts believe TikTok’s younger audience could give it an edge in e-commerce, Mew remained cautious. He did, however, tip his hat to the platform’s achievements, saying, “There’s a potential for them to pull this off. But at this moment in time, they have a short-video platform and a set of algorithms that are working really, really well. All of the other platforms are insanely jealous of the success that TikTok has had,” Mew said, cautioning that their future success is far from guaranteed.