How To Sell on TikTok Shop: What You Need to Know [Ultimate Merchant Guide]

How to Sell on TikTok Shop: Ultimate Merchant Guide - AfterShip

Since its launch, TikTok has emerged as a powerhouse for eComm brands looking to reach younger and more engaged audiences. But it's been a tougher nut to crack when it comes to DTC marketing because traditional advertising can feel out of place on the platform, and brands often learn the hard way that TikTok content has to be creative, native, and authentic to succeed.

That's changed with the introduction of TikTok Shop, which makes directly selling your products to engaged consumers much easier thanks to its integrated shopping features. With more than a billion global users and its unique culture, we think it's an unmissable opportunity for brands and should be an essential part of your social commerce strategy in 2024.

In this ultimate merchant guide, we'll walk you through the steps of how to sell on TikTok Shop—from setting up an account to finding the best ways to engage new audiences and convert them into customers.

We think it'll be most useful for merchants looking to sync TikTok Shop to their existing eCommerce storefront without creating headaches or introducing costly errors. Whether you're dipping your toes in the social commerce platform or want to go all in by quickly scaling up, we've outlined the process in easy steps. 

But first…

What is TikTok Shop?

TikTok Shop is a feature within the TikTok app that allows users to discover and purchase products directly from TikTok videos. It works by providing a seamless shopping experience where users can browse through curated collections, explore product details, and make purchases without leaving the app.

What are the benefits of selling on TikTok Shop?

The shopping experience on TikTok Shop is an extension of the same advanced algorithm that the platform uses to serve relevant content and create a positive user experience, but it includes features built specifically for eCommerce:

  • TikTok users can now make purchases directly in the app, reducing the complexity of the buying experience and eliminating potential distractions. It’s a great way of capitalizing on the urgency a platform like TikTok already generates for Gen Z buyers with short attention spans.
  • The ability to link to tagged products in “shoppable” videos by brands and creators, as well as a number of other unique ways to feature products, like live streams. (We discuss these options below.)
  • Merchants can connect TikTok Shop to their existing eCommerce platforms, whether that’s Shopify, WooCommerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, BigCommerce, or more.
The benefits of selling on TikTok Shop include live shopping, shoppable video, and a storefront
TikTok Shop offers multiple ways to sell your product to engaged users.

How To Set Up TikTok Shop: A Step-By-Step Guide

Starting selling on TikTok Shop is relatively easy, especially if your brand already uses the platform for social media marketing or community engagement. To get running successfully, you must complete the verification process, optimize your product listings for the platform, and explore the ways of selling open to you. 

To help you get started, we've compiled this simple guide to walk you through the steps and considerations. (It's simpler than you might think.)

1. Register as a verified TikTok Shop seller.

As of early 2024, TikTok Shop is available to select markets, including the United States, the UK (United Kingdom), and seven regions across Asia. To sign up, you'll need an existing TikTok account and additional business information to support your verification.

If you're an eCommerce manager or marketer signing up on behalf of your company, you may need more information than what you usually have on hand. We recommend starting the process using the relevant account, noting what you need, and returning later—or getting your company's legal team on the line as you complete it.

An image showing how TikTok Shop account verification requires supplying detailed information about your business
Have your business details on hand when you set up TikTok Shop.

Depending on the type of business you run and the market you select, you will be asked to supply relevant information for verification, including tax identification numbers and a registered business address. As part of the process, you need to identify a primary representative and supply photos of acceptable ID, like passports or driver's licenses.  

Remember that the verification process may take several business days. If selling on TikTok Shop is a remote possibility for the future, we recommend seeking verification today. There's no downside to being prepared.

2. Sync your product catalog with TikTok Shop.

Merchants with an online presence and many SKUs might be hesitant to add another layer of complexity to their omnichannel selling strategy. That's a mistake. Selling at scale on TikTok Shop without introducing manual hassles is quite simple.

If you're already using an eCommerce platform like Shopify, BigCommerce, or Salesforce Commerce Cloud, you can use a solution like AfterShip Feed to pull in the relevant metadata and sync your existing product listings in a few clicks. To adhere to TikTok Shop's guidelines, you must also fill in some required attributes (we'll discuss these below). AfterShip Feed supports editing up to 10,000 SKUs at once, making it easy to list products in bulk.

Use AfterShip Feed to sync your existing SKUs to TikTok Shop with 100% accuracy
Use AfterShip Feed to sync your existing SKUs to TikTok Shop with 100% accuracy.

We recommend selecting an automation solution based on its reliability if you want to sell at scale on TikTok Shop. For example, overselling and other listing errors can result in disastrous revenue losses—not to mention a taxing amount of manual labor for your team. AfterShip Feed helps by letting you use inventory and order sync to manage your inventory levels with 100% accuracy. (Plus, advanced features like "fulfillment hold" can also automatically hold TikTok orders for 1 hour after checkout in case of order cancellation.)

Finally, your best bet for scaling is ensuring TikTok Shop works with your existing processes, eliminating potential headaches regarding inventory, fulfillment, and customer service. AfterShip Feed introduces no friction with the current fulfillment process and works with major returns solutions (including AfterShip Returns) to ensure buyers on social apps still have an excellent post-purchase experience.

3. Ensure you're following TikTok Shop guidelines for sellers.

TikTok has guidelines that sellers must follow for product listings to protect buyers and merchants. More precise details can be found in the TikTok Shop Academy, but to summarize, you must include the following:

  • Valid documentation of brand authorization from brand owners.
  • Product certifications, like testing reports and children's product certificates for specific categories.
  • Weight, length, width, and height values for every product. For example, a size chart for clothing items.
  • Shipping information, such as the shipping template, warehouse/pickup, and return locations in TikTok Shop.
  • A preferred fulfillment method, including a "Shipped by Seller" option that can integrate with your eCommerce platform.

TikTok must review any products you enter to ensure they meet these guidelines before appearing in TikTok Shop.

TikTok Shop also features an AI-powered Product Optimizer that recommends improving your listings for the best performance on the platform, including advice on improving product photos and copy. Again, if you're handling many SKUs, a bulk editing feature like the one found in AfterShip Feed can help you add details not found in your current metadata and ensure you follow TikTok's best practices and guidelines.

How to Sell on TikTok Shop

One of the major benefits of selling on TikTok Shop is the flexibility it gives merchants in terms of how they go about it—but understanding all of the options open to you is best. Once your products have been added to TikTok, they can be marketed to users in a number of ways:

Build a Product Showcase to sell your best.

Brands with high engagement on their profile pages can showcase offered products so that TikTok users can browse and purchase directly from their accounts. Adding a showcase tab to your profile (in conjunction with setting up your TikTok Shop account) is a great way to highlight hot items and encourage browsing in your virtual storefront. You can include promotional enticements like free shipping, flash deals, discounts, and vouchers. 

Any product in your showcase can be made available for direct purchase in shoppable videos or live streams. Third parties (like creators who've joined TikTok Shop's robust affiliate program) can add your products to their showcase if you allow it, making them available for others to sell for a commission.

Product Showcase lets users browse all of your products from your profile
The Candy Closet uses the showcase function to sell an assortment of freeze dried snacks.

Use the Shop Tab to improve product discovery.

The Shop Tab is the centralized marketplace accessible on the home screen wherever TikTok Shop is available. Like Amazon or Etsy, this marketplace allows users to search or browse by category. It also provides personalized recommendations and featured brands to improve discoverability.

Standing out from the crowd on this shopping tab is a bit of an art form and a bit of a science. Following TikTok's recommendations for optimizing listing and using the analytics available in the TikTok Seller Center can help you refine your approach, boost product discovery, discover TikTok Shop product trends, and ultimately ensure more potential customers are finding your stuff.

The Shop tab in TikTok lets users browse a marketplace of products
 The Shop Tab lets users browse and search the entire TikTok Shop marketplace.

Take advantage of live shopping on TikTok Shop.

Live shopping is already extremely popular in Asia, where platforms like Taobao have generated billions for sellers. Outside of television programming like QVC and HSN, however, North American audiences are relatively new to seeing products pitched live. TikTok Live is set to change that, providing sellers an easy way to reach Gen Z and millennial buyers (and their massive, growing spending power).

On TikTok Live, creators can demonstrate the features and benefits of their products, provide product tutorials, and share their personal experiences with the product. These live sessions show off the product in action, answer questions, or engage with potential buyers in real time. Compared to traditional eCommerce, live commerce also has a whole new sense of urgency. Shoppers are more motivated and more likely to make a purchase if they feel like there's a good deal or limited-time offer that they don’t want to miss out on.

Product Showcase lets users browse all of your products from your profile
Live shopping lets users buy products via links during a stream.

Create Shoppable Videos to reach specific audiences.

This platform made its name with bite-sized videos in which TikTok creators can show off their sparkling personalities, create fun and engaging connections, and make new friends across the world. By creating their branded shoppable video ads or ensuring shopping links appear in content generated by creators (UCG), merchants create frictionless purchase experiences built around these very same interactions.

You can run these as ads, create your own organic content with branded hashtags, or partner with existing creators to sell to their pre-engaged audiences. You can also use hashtags in order to ride the latest trends or catch the attention of a niche audience, potentially leading to stronger product discovery and higher conversion rates than traditional ads.

@itsmakeupbymelissam Replying to @Kyra pick whichever tool you prefer! Both give good results when used correctly #makeupbrushes #makeupreview #makeuptutorial #foundationhack #beautyblender ♬ original sound - Melissa Murdick

Bonus Tip: Use creators to sell with TikTok Affiliates.

As a TikTok Shop seller, you may or may not have existing followers associated with your brand account. One alternative to running campaigns or generating in-house videos is using the TikTok Affiliate program to connect with creators who are enthusiastic about promoting your products or even distributing samples. 

Though you’ll need to pay commission on each sale, one major benefit of relying on influencers is that they’re usually both skilled at creating engaging content, and they've often built a strong reputation. If you've got a good product that you’re reasonably confident will perform well, leveraging the popularity and reach of influencers can significantly boost your sales and brand visibility. 

Read more about beauty influencers who are thriving on TikTok Shop and what you can learn from their examples.

Frequently Asked Questions about TikTok Shop

Still have questions? Explore these additional resources about TikTok Shop, social commerce, and omnichannel marketing:

Create, Connect, Scale: Getting the Most from TikTok Shop

This beginner guide focuses on how to set up TikTok Shop and start selling. 

If you’re a seasoned eCommerce professional looking to make it part of an omnichannel strategy, though, you’ll want to experiment with different creative approaches to see what works for you and plan around scaling by using AfterShip Feed to sync TikTok Shop with your existing eCommerce store. This tool reduces the need for manual input—freeing your time to focus on selling—and eliminates costly errors associated with the platform, like overselling.

We’re in the early days of the social commerce platform when truly innovative approaches to reaching audiences and converting them into customers are being discovered on a weekly basis. Now’s the time to innovate, experiment, and seize the opportunity to be at the forefront of the future of social commerce.