- Walmart will run a first-of-its-kind shoppable livestream on TikTok in the U.S., part of the retailer's holiday marketing, the company announced via blog post.
- On Dec. 18, 10 of TikTok's top creators will participate in a one-hour variety show program called the "Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular." Social media personalities including Michael Le, who has attracted an audience of over 43 million followers on the app with his dance videos, will showcase both private-label and national brands available at Walmart, with a spotlight on apparel.
- Viewers can tap the videos to learn more about the products displayed and complete their purchases without having to leave TikTok. The ability to clearly link creator-driven video content to sales illustrates why Walmart moved to acquire a stake in TikTok earlier this year, a deal that is still in the works but squares with the retailer's broader push into e-commerce.
Walmart is bringing together several channels with its shoppable livestream on TikTok. The big-box retailer has put a large focus on e-commerce as the pandemic drives more people to buy online. At the same time, livestreaming viewership and engagement with social media have skyrocketed as people look to stay connected and entertained while stuck at home.
TikTok has benefited from these trends — it is the most-downloaded app this year and stands out as a favorite among Gen Zers — and steadily built out advertising and commerce tools to capitalize on explosive user growth. The app, which is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, in October partnered with the e-commerce platform Shopify to help brands and retailers better advertise their products through shoppable videos and measure campaign performance. TikTok also recently teamed up with companies like Teespring to help its creators sell merchandise to their followers.
Walmart is spotlighting fashion and apparel as part of the one-hour variety program, which is set to air on Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. ET through the retailer's official TikTok page. Creators will showcase brands like Champion, Jordache and Kendall + Kylie, as well as Walmart-owned labels including Free Assembly, Scoop and Sofia Jeans.
This isn't the first time TikTok has run shoppable livestreams. In August, it hosted a collaboration with Ntwrk, a home shopping network aimed at Gen Z. The livestream showed a pop-up window that lets users buy products directly without leaving the app. The distinction of Walmart's promotion is that users can tap products in the live video feed and check out directly from the brand's product page, a TikTok spokesperson explained over email.
"Creators and brands have found a creative outlet to connect with audiences through TikTok LIVE, and we're excited to further innovate on this interactive experience to enable our community to discover and engage with the brands they love," Blake Chandlee, VP of global business solutions at TikTok, said in a statement to Marketing Dive. "Brands have had an incredible impact on the community throughout this year, and we're thrilled to see Walmart embrace the creativity of TikTok and this first-of-a-kind experience to meaningfully engage with their community."
Drawing more consumers to online sales channels could be essential for retailers during a grim holiday season where many people are avoiding stores. Retail sales dipped 1.1% in November from the prior month when factoring in seasonal adjustments, the Commerce Department said in a report Wednesday — a warning sign that the crucial sales period could be further disrupted by the pandemic and its economic impact.
Walmart is advancing other bets on e-commerce as consumer habits driven by the health crisis will likely stick even after the pandemic abates. The retailer launched its long-anticipated subscription membership program Walmart+ in the fall, its biggest bet yet to compete with Amazon. The company is also in negotiations to acquire a stake in TikTok, which has scrambled to iron out a new ownership structure after facing a potential ban by the Trump administration. While an outright ban seems less likely now after several challenges in court, ByteDance and TikTok are still negotiating a deal that could see Oracle and Walmart receive some ownership in the app.
In September, Walmart announced it had tentatively agreed to purchase 7.5% of TikTok Global, a new entity that would seek to please regulators concerned over the platform's ties to China. A Walmart spokesperson reached via email said the holiday activation is unrelated to the ownership negotiations and pointed Marketing Dive to the September statement.
Chantal Tode contributed to this report.