Since launching in 2016 and gaining real traction during the COVID-19 pandemic, TikTok has established itself as the top social media app. In addition to the informative and dance challenge videos, the app has expanded into the world of e-commerce with TikTok Shop.
TikTok Shop was introduced to users in 2022 and has allowed businesses of all sizes to sell their products directly from the app.
Within the last year, TikTok shop has allowed small companies on the verge of closing their doors a new way to market their products and make serious cash.
Although TikTok Shop is considered a lifeline for some entrepreneurs, the convenient tool has its faults. As its popularity increases, more and more shoppers share horror stories, suggesting users may want to do their homework before buying anything from the app.
Is TikTok Shop safe?
Like its predecessors, Instagram and Facebook, TikTok found a way to blend e-commerce into user-generated content (UGC). And much like the apps before it, TikTok takes a cut of the sales the creators who own the shops make from the app.
While the method works for most creators who post their shops on TikTok, it has previously burned several shoppers. In addition to real-life entrepreneurs posting their products, there have also been multiple faux shops masquerading as real ones to attract TikTok consumers.
One store that recently came under fire was Bella Robson. In August 2023, a TikTok customer claimed the company was a “scam” when she ordered a Halloween-themed graphic sweatshirt after seeing another influencer buy from the brand.
However, the user, @mackenziemarie420, said she never received the item, and many of Mackenzie’s commenters had the same issue. Amid the complaints, another company, Serene in Solitude, claimed Bella Robson stole their content to attract unsuspecting TikTok shoppers.
The concerns regarding Bella Robson came after Money reported that TikTok vets all of the merchants on TikTok Shop before their accounts get approved to make the process as safe for shoppers as possible. Nonetheless, Don Grant, a certified financial planner, told the outlet that customers should always “proceed with caution” when buying anything from the app.
“Those who post on TikTok want something from you,” he said. “The TikTok platform wants something from you. If that ‘something’ is of value, viewers may only know it once it’s missing.”
Why is TikTok Shop so cheap?
In addition to its convenience, one of TikTok’s draws is that customers can purchase items on the app for a fraction of what it would cost on another e-commerce website. Prices for clothes, mugs, and other items can get as low as $0.99 on the app, which seems like a steal for most frugal shoppers.
But, as enjoyable as the low prices are for those who benefit from it, the price drops are strategically placed by TikTok. Money reports that “TikTok takes a cut of shop sales from merchants” every time a payment is made on the app.
Due to this, TikTok has a “vested interest” in how often users buy products directly from them and not another site. So, by keeping the prices low, more users will likely keep shopping on TikTok Shop after their first buy, especially since TikTok Shop’s algorithm makes it easier to vet every customer’s needs.
So, is TikTok Shop safe? We’re not really sure. However, it is a cheap and accessible way to look like your favorite influencer or even become one yourself!