In spite of a U.S. government investigation into its business practices, TikTok is continuing to move forward with its app, by testing out new e-commerce capabilities.
Fabian Bern, who is the founder of a Chinese influencer marketing agency called Uplab, discovered the new feature, which lets users link to products within the videos that they post on the platform. Bern shared his findings with TechCrunch, who then reached out to the company for a response.
A spokesperson for ByteDance, which is the parent of TikTok, said, “We’re always experimenting with new ways to improve the app experience for our users. Ultimately, we’re focused on ways to inspire creativity, bring joy, and add value for our community.”
The idea behind TikTok’s new experimental feature is not exactly new. Instagram has a similar feature in both its Stories and shoppable posts. These are commonly used by influencers for the purposes of affiliate marketing.
It is not surprising that TikTok is lifting features from Instagram, considering that the two are competing in a similar space for a similar audience, with TikTok’s 500 million active users about half of what Instagram has.
Instagram has also copied features of TikTok, most recently with Reels, which let users create 15-second video clips set to music and share them as stories. Users can select any song available in Instagram’s immense catalog of music, then post these clips to a Close Friend group or as a Direct Message.
The new e-commerce feature in TikTok will likely make the platform very popular with brands looking to target young people. More than 40% of TikTok’s users are said to be between the ages of 16 and 24. Of course, it is this very fact, among others, that has drawn the company within the crosshairs of the U.S. government.
TikTok was also the most downloaded app at Apple’s App Store during the first quarter of this year.