Is the threat of a TikTok ban slowing down the U.S. rollout of the app’s ecommerce hub?

By 05/10/2023
Is the threat of a TikTok ban slowing down the U.S. rollout of the app’s ecommerce hub?

TikTok‘s plan to bring a lucrative ecommerce operation to the United States has encountered another obstacle. According to the Wall Street Journal, the platform known as TikTok Shop will not reach a wide rollout in the U.S. until June at the earliest.

The report cited “people familiar with the matter,” who claimed that TikTok Shop’s U.S. arrival has been pushed back from an “early spring” launch. TikTok denied that it has delayed its U.S. Shop timeline. “We’re committed to our strategy of testing and learning, and we’re excited to continue expanding our test in the U.S. by inviting more merchants to join us as interest in Shop continues to grow,” reads a TikTok statement provided to Reuters.

Two particular issues may be stunting TikTok Shop’s westward expansion. The commercial hub has caught on in Asia, where TikTok parent company ByteDance makes billions from social shopping. But consumers in countries like the U.K. and U.S. have not shown the same enthusiasm. The WSJ report claims that TikTok pushed back the second phase of Shop tests in the U.S. after struggling to attract sellers to its virtual storefront. Those tests, which began last year, have since continued.


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TikTok’s other concern is more pressing: The app could soon be banned in the United States. Though CEO Shou Zi Chew and his deputies have taken great strides to combat the proposed RESTRICT Act, the uncertainty surrounding TikTok’s American operations may be creating problems for the app’s Shop. According to the WSJ report, merchants in the U.S. aren’t sure whether they should sign on with a platform that could be banned in the future.

Whenever TikTok Shop does make it to the U.S. market, it will face serious competition. Tech companies — ranging from industry giants like Google and Amazon to upstarts like Klarna — have invested in social shopping. ByteDance even has its own horse in that race thanks to the buzzy app Lemon8, and it is hoping to add another in the form of TikTok Shop.

If the WSJ report is accurate, it will be a while before TikTok Shop gets its moment in the U.S. spotlight. In the meantime, merchants can check out the platform by visiting its homepage.

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