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Selling on TikTok Shop? - Testing On for Automatic Product Identification


TikTok has 1.5 billion active users worldwide and the number is estimated to touch the 2 billion user mark by the end of 2024. The number is huge - that’s almost 25% of the world population. It’s obvious that the TikTok team is buoyed by this huge success. After staying long in the short-video sphere, TikTok now means serious business. It has launched TikTok Shop and also planning to take on YouTube with long-form video enablement on its platform. 

TikTok Shop is already creating waves - from Steve Madden purse TikTok to restaurants near me are just a couple of examples of things trending on TikTok. And now the latest news is that TikTok is testing automatic product identification. If you aren’t selling on TikTok Shop yet, you are certainly missing out on a great business opportunity. With 1.5 billion user base buying items on TikTok and looking for new trends and coupons on TikTok, it’s already a runaway hit.

The TikTok ecommerce plans TikTok sellers must know about

Now let’s talk about the eCommerce market size. The global ecommerce market size is expected to be around USD 57 trillion by 2032 from USD 14.14 trillion in 2022. And TikTok does not want to stay behind when there’s so much to encash on. In a bid to further integrate e-commerce links into its platform, TikTok is reportedly experimenting with a groundbreaking feature. This feature is called auto product identification. It will automatically identify products in videos and offer convenient purchase links. 

The move comes several months after the introduction of the TikTok Shop in the US. This signals that the platform is fully committed to enhancing its e-commerce presence. TikTok knows ecommerce is a big business and it has the right user base to boost its plans to foray into ecommerce. After all, social media and ecommerce when combined, are bound to produce outstanding results and this is exactly what brands need for selling on TikTok Shop.

Early stages of testing auto product identification technology

Imagine every video post turning shoppable. TikTok Shop’s innovative feature is currently in the early testing phase. It will automatically recognize products within videos. Based on that, it will provide users with a link to ‘Find similar items on TikTok Shop.’ 

The company has not officially commented on the feature but some reports confirm its existence based on statements from a TikTok spokesperson. TikTok shop has already become every brand’s favorite and they are creating storefronts on the platform. This unparalleled feature will provide them with the perfect opportunity to sell more.

Previous glimpses into this new TikTok feature

This isn't the first time TikTok users have encountered the ‘find similar items on TikTok Shop’ button. Previous tests of the same feature were observed in videos from September and October of the previous year which aimed at making buying and selling on TikTok the next in-thing. The experimental phase involved a limited number of users in the US and UK, with some unaware that their videos would be utilized to promote TikTok Shop. There was news about TikTok testing visual search last year.

Expanding eCommerce horizons

The potential widespread implementation of this feature will mark a significant expansion of TikTok Shop. Currently, influencers and brands require approval from TikTok to tag products in their videos. However, if successful, the new auto product identification will offer the potential to extend product links to all videos. 

This aligns perfectly with TikTok's ambitious goal of taking on Amazon and achieving $17.5 billion in sales in the US by the end of 2024 seems like a big possibility if the feature is introduced early and it produces results as per expectations.

Challenges and competition in product recognition technology

TikTok's foray into automatic product identification is pioneering. However, some reports suggest that the platform still faces challenges in refining the accuracy of this tool. There have been instances where the feature mistakenly identified a gold ring and fake fingernails when applied to a video of a woman polishing stones. This underscores the need for further development and enhancement to ensure precise product recognition. 

Deep learning has been used for the last few years for automatic product recognition and testing for grocery products in retail stores, but the challenges are still immense. To make TikTok Shop more successful than Amazon, auto product identification holds great importance because the platform is highly dependent on video content.

Industry trends and TikTok Shop competitors

The concept of automatically identifying products and facilitating seamless purchasing options is not unique to TikTok Shop. Competitors like Pinterest have incorporated shopping recommendation features, inviting users to ‘View similar products.’ 

Google Lens and its Circle to Search feature also leverage auto product identification technology to help users identify objects, particularly fashion accessories, and provide direct links for purchasing. But what makes businesses who want to sell on TikTok more positive about the platform is its wide user base and the prospect of integrating shopping into video content, which is of course something new. Selling on TikTok has already meant huge business for various brands so they are highly positive about this new feature.

TikTok Shop and Auto Product Identification - A new ecommerce giant in the making?

TikTok has entered the ecommerce market and it plans to take on the likes of Amazon by providing better shopping experiences. TikTok Shop has already shown high returns to brands selling on TikTok. The short video platform aims to overcome technological hurdles and set new standards for user-friendly and effective product identification and linking. The success of this feature could redefine the landscape of social media-driven shopping experiences and make TikTok Shop the next big thing.

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