What has been the impact of TikTok’s multifunctionality in China

topic: sharing economic, TikTok, social media

This work is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

“TikTok on iPhone” by Nordskov Media is marked with CC0 1.0.

Development of China’s TikTok e-commerce

With the continuous development of the Internet, TikTok, a social media software, has become popular. Lots of audiences of all ages use TikTok. A brief introduction to TikTok, users may make and share short films on any subject using the video-sharing software TikTok. Mobile devices are the major means of transmission. Users of this platform may let their imagination run wild by adding filters, unique effects, voiceovers, and sound effects (Geyser, 2019). This is the very first feature of TikTok that attracts the users, TikTok attracts the audience through these beautiful and excellent short videos. Obviously, with the growth of the internet, TikTok is also developing other functions, of which e-commerce has gradually become the most popular function of TikTok.

There are many reasons that make up the development of e-commerce, under such a circumstance, there are two justifications why China’s TikTok e-commerce will become more and more popular. The first justification is the sharing economy and China’s TikTok’s e-commerce development is not free from the help of the sharing economy. This is because the sharing economy includes a new approach to user-producer interaction; the sharing economy will be able to connect otherwise unconnected individuals; users can be represented as both suppliers and users; and exchanges are defined by transactions that match users and producers through a platform, rather than users pre-selecting producers. The peer-to-peer concept of the sharing economy describes individuals as users and producers, while also implying that their roles may overlap, and that digitization will highlight the transactional nature of the trade (Geissinger et al., 2019). In other words, in the sharing economy, users and individuals are free to switch between the identity of consumers and producers, just like in TikTok, a social media platform is a huge money-making platform, this is because in TikTok everyone can be an entrepreneur and everyone can to a consumer. Therefore, TikTok has established connections with major e-commerce platforms to bring creative video sales and purchases closer to achieving their goals. TikTok attracts customers and creates shopping functions through cooperation with Taobao. This feature not only allows users to quickly view and purchase content on the platform but also allows creators to earn considerable income (Zhang, 2020). In a word, the sharing economy and TikTok’s e-commerce complement each other, and the sharing economy has promoted the development of e-commerce.

There is another important reason to make the development of TikTok’s e-commerce hot, which is low cost. This will involve the impact of traditional sales and electronic sales. There are also similarities between these two sales. For instance, digital marketing channels work similarly to traditional marketing channels in that they coordinate the distribution of items and services from origin to client via certain sorts of supply chains (Key, 2017). However, in contrast to traditional sales, e-commerce only requires a link to make a purchase. However, traditional sales require payment of rent and an in-store business license, and consumers also need to buy in the store. Comparing these two sales channels, the cost of e-sales will be even lower, this is because e-sales do not need a physical store, that is, no rent, e-sales just need to sell on the network. TikTok’s e-commerce is a typical example. On January 16, 2019, an e-commerce portal (Fangxingou) owned by Byte Dance, TikTok’s parent firm, was linked to the platform. Creators may add the store’s items to the commodities window and embed them in their films. Producers, platforms, and creators will receive a percentage of the profits from product sales (Zhang, 2020). Therefore, TikTok carries out sales communication through live broadcasts and short video-embedded advertising. Consumers only need to buy in the live broadcast room or click the link. All in all, there are many reasons for the popularity of China’s TikTok e-commerce, but the most important and most affected are the sharing economy and low cost.

BBC News(2022).How Content Creators Are Using TikTok As Future Of E-Commerce. . YouTube. https://youtu.be/saP6MtzaC7k?si=ak6RE_okEasb9Wz4

Impact of e-commerce in China on other countries

The e-commerce of TikTok in China is mainly divided into live broadcasting with goods and providing window links for consumers to purchase. This also affects social media and traditional media. Social media is now completely dependent on consumers, which is very different from traditional media. The distinction between social media and conventional media occurs because social media is dominated by consumers, whilst traditional media is dominated by specialists attempting to characterize the influence of advancements on society. Although professional comments can be found on occasion in the analyzed social media data, the consumer’s point of view continues to predominate (Laurell & Sandström, 2018). it’s clear that influenced by the global sharing economy and the impact of Chinese e-commerce, many countries are also starting to engage in online live sales or electronic sales on social media. According to this video(BBC News, 2022), live broadcasting on TikTok has also grown in popularity in the United States. TikTok’s e-commerce, which combines buying with live entertainment, is becoming a more popular way for young people to buy things online. This tendency appears to be continuing for both audiences and merchants. In addition, it is also mentioned in the video that China’s TikTok e-commerce has reached 200 billion US dollars, which has also brought a lot of impact on other countries. It is possible that other countries will cooperate with China in e-commerce or develop e-commerce on their own.

Hence, China is cooperating with many countries in e-commerce. For example, over 20 nations across five continents, including Belarus, Italy, and Colombia, have established bilateral e-commerce cooperation platforms to aid in policy discussions, planning and coordination, business growth, local cooperation, and capacity building. (Raquel & Kong, 2023). Walmart has also started experimenting with e-commerce sales. In December 2020, Walmart conducted their first live shopping event on TikTok (BBC News, 2022). This makes it possible for digital platforms and applications to help link suppliers and customers.Obviously, under the influence of China’s TikTok e-commerce, the social economy has developed, which has improved the national happiness index. Different social media platforms are also becoming popular for e-commerce sales. Just like Amazon has also launched a live-streaming channel which has taken the economy of e-commerce to the next level.

Challenges posed by e-commerce

As e-sales become more and more popular with consumers, e-commerce has ushered in the true era of e-commerce, which make consumers have brought great convenience and made shopping more fun, but of course, e-commerce has also brought great challenges. This is due to the fact that the purchase is very convenient, live or video is very interesting many consumers will impulse buy. Then the goods are not shipped immediately after purchase on the Internet, which leads to the risk that the merchant may face a return when the consumer calms down (Scanlon, 2023). And because e-commerce is sold over the Internet there may be inferior products as well. This is because consumers cannot touch the detected product and can only observe it through the screen. As a result, it also poses a great challenge to the regulator, and it is believed that e-commerce will become even more complicated in the future as it becomes more and more popular and may even become the mainstream way of purchasing. But in the future e-commerce will also become more sophisticated and rules will be enacted and developed so that these challenges will become less and less.


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BBC News(2022).How Content Creators Are Using TikTok As Future Of E-Commerce. . YouTube. https://youtu.be/saP6MtzaC7k?si=ak6RE_okEasb9Wz4

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Raquel , B., & Kong, A. (2023, September 17). China’s E-commerce drives two-way trade with Belt and Road countries – Khmer Times. Khmer Times. https://www.khmertimeskh.com/501361717/chinas-e-commerce-drives-two-way-trade-with-belt-and-road-countries/

Scanlon, K. (2023, September 20). How the TikTok Shop pitch has gone down with marketers. Digiday. https://digiday.com/marketing/how-the-tiktok-shop-pitch-has-gone-down-with-marketers/

Zhang, Z. (2020). Infrastructuralization of Tik Tok: transformation, Power relationships, and Platformization of Video Entertainment in China. Media, Culture & Society, 43(2), 219–236. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443720939452