In the USA, the UK and some Asian countries, brand owners can already sell their products directly via the social media platform TikTok. However, rumors are now growing that the platform, which has become the epitome of entertaining and quickly consumable short videos, could soon introduce shopping functions and ads in Europe too. Could this also be relevant or interesting for online print shops?
It is no longer a secret that social media channels play an important role in brand building and addressing potential customers. On the contrary: social selling and social commerce have established themselves as independent disciplines of digital commerce and are now an integral part of the marketing of well-known online stores and brand owners. And although the product catalog and the shopping button that can be displayed within the Instagram and Facebook app disappeared a few months ago due to the GDPR in Europe, the networks are still essential as a source of (purchasing) impetus – whether via classic ad formats or simply via your own channel, including your own community.
Now, TikTok also wants a slice of the European digital commerce pie. At least that is what is currently being rumored in the industry, and it doesn’t seem far-fetched. This is because, firstly, TikTok has already been equipped with integrated shopping functions and the option of shopping ads in some Asian countries as well as in the USA and the UK for some time, which means that the move to Europe would only be a logical next step. And secondly, the platform’s job advertisements also point to plans to expand the teams in Amsterdam and Dublin accordingly, as OMR’s research showed back in December. This is not just about the basic functionality of shopping from the app, but, OMR assumes, also about setting up a fulfillment service similar to that offered by Amazon. In this case, advertisers could even have their products shipped via TikTok itself. If you want to know more about the individual indications, you can read them in the OMR article.
TikTok and the printing industry, does that fit?
TikTok is a social network in which companies in the printing industry are not (yet) widely represented. And I’m sure some people are wondering why we are reporting on it at all on Beyondprint. Quite simply, if you want to sell your products successfully, you have to be where your customers are, including the customers of the future. And that’s exactly why TikTok is so exciting. After all, the platform is no longer a fad: with almost 21 million users in Germany alone, it ranks high on the popularity scale of young people in particular. In comparison: according to a report by Deutschlandfunk radio, Instagram has 27.5 million German users, Facebook 24.5 million and “X” 14.1 million – meaning TikTok is already the third most-used platform in Germany. This is also confirmed by Statista. It is therefore not advisable to ignore TikTok, especially not for those companies that are transforming and converting their business models to digital sales channels. However, there are some exciting examples of how print shops are already using the platform: the printing company Butz & Bürker, for example, or the new superhero of the printing industry PRINTCH, which we reported on in December. If you look for them, you can also find a handful of other print shops that are already on TikTok, or have at least tried it out.
To see and be seen
But is the platform really something for print shops? I say yes and even claim that it doesn’t even necessarily matter whether there will be a dedicated shopping function or not. Because this is primarily about awareness, i.e. attention. And since the professional and private spheres are becoming increasingly intertwined, which of course means that marketers, print buyers and young businesses are also on TikTok and the like, it’s all about being seen. This does not mean that every user who clicks on one of the videos immediately and directly becomes a customer and makes a purchase. Rather, the effect is long-term and sometimes indirect. After all, the print buyer who swipes through TikTok after work may remember PRINTCH or bittebesonders, as the Butz & Bürker printing company’s TikTok channel is called, at precisely the moment when he or she has a specific need and is looking for a service provider. Because that’s how branding works; it always starts with awareness – and for this, companies have to be exactly where their customers are. What’s more, it’s not just TikTok that plays a role here, but also other networks such as Instagram, Facebook and the professional network LinkedIn. The interaction and clever orchestration of the individual channels has enormous power.
My Take: The coming weeks and months will show whether TikTok will actually launch its own store services in Europe and what these could look like in compliance with the GDPR. To be honest, however, this is not really important at the moment, as the general potential of the network in terms of addressing customers should be much more interesting. Anyone who turns a blind eye to this could regret it later. Because today is the right time to build up your own know-how and get to know the mechanisms of TikTok and Co.