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TikTok Announces Support Programs for Retailers in the App

TikTok still really wants people to shop in the app, and this week, it’s launching two new programs to support small businesses that are looking to display and sell their items via its in-stream shop displays.

Under the broader banner of “Supporting Our Artisans and Retailers (SOAR) Together,” TikTok has announced two new funding and training initiatives, aimed at providing additional support for retailers.

The first initiative will provide support for women-owned businesses, via a 6-week training program, that’s designed to facilitate growth and success in the app.

As per TikTok:

“The TikTok Economic Impact Report 2024 found that more than three-quarters (81%) of young female entrepreneurs under 30 agree or strongly agree that to stay competitive their business needs to continue to use and improve upon their TikTok marketing content. We’re thrilled to support the growth of women-owned businesses and selected 15 U.S. businesses to participate in the program that represent the breadth and diversity of entrepreneurs on TikTok Shop.”

The program covers a range of TikTok marketing and business elements, which will help the selected SMBs build their in-app presence.

TikTok SOAR program

I mean, U.S.-owned businesses may not be overly keen on building too much reliance on TikTok, given that it could be banned from the region in 7 months time.  But if you are looking to make a bigger push on TikTok, in the upcoming holiday season at least, it could be of interest.

It’s not entirely clear whether TikTok has already chosen the participants this time around, but you can register your interest here.  

The other initiative will provide support for LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs.

“We’re excited to support 30 LGBTQIA+ owned businesses in the US with scholarships for StartOut’s Founders Program, where they’ll gain invaluable insights on how to grow and scale their business. Program participants will receive resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities, in addition to StartOut’s Founders Program memberships.”

TikTok says that the program is already supporting 30 small and medium businesses in the U.S. “to empower and grow LGBTQIA entrepreneurship”, and it’s seemingly also looking for more to provide more support in future.

Interested SMBs can register here.

The broader push, of course, is to make TikTok shopping a thing, in order to maximize TikTok’s revenue opportunities, and build upon its use case.

Which hasn’t been overly successful thus far, but more and more people are spending money in the app, and if TikTok can gradually convert that into more habitual, in-stream shopping behavior, there is an opportunity for it to follow in the footsteps of its Chinese sister app.

Douyin, the China-only version of TikTok, now generates the majority of its revenue via in-stream shopping, with the platform racking up around $300 billion in sales in 2023. TikTok reportedly brought in around $4 billion from in-app spending in the same period, and that intake was primarily via tipping for live-stream creators, not product sales. But even so, that’s a 15% year-over-year spending increase, which points to the expanding potential for its Shops project, if things fall into place.

Support programs like this will bring more sales listings into the app, and maybe, through a combination of awareness efforts, TikTok will be able to get more people buying in-stream.

I mean, it’s also running a 50% off sale in the TikTok Shop in Europe as a Summer promotion.     

It really, really wants you to buy things in the app.

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