TikTok Plans Steep Holiday Discounts, Bringing Amazon Price War

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TikTok plans to offer steep holiday discounts in a monthlong campaign that will begin in late October, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. The social media app aims to lure inflation-battered shoppers to its new online marketplace, taking the first shot in a price war with established competitors Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., is hosting training sessions next week with merchants selling on its marketplace. It is offering to subsidize discounts of as much as 50% to entice sellers’ participation in its Black Friday program, which begins Oct. 27 and runs through Nov. 30, according to the documents. A TikTok spokesperson confirmed the plans.

The company is betting that the busy holiday period — when U.S. shoppers are projected to spend as much as $284 billion, according to Deloitte — will be a key time to stand out with discounts that compel shoppers to spend money on its new marketplace, which recently launched to U.S. users of its app.

The popular app is known primarily for short, viral videos, and has more than 150 million monthly active users in the U.S., TikTok said earlier this year.

Read More: TikTok’s New Amazon Copycat is Full of Cheap Chinese Goods 

TikTok launched its Shop marketplace tab in the U.S. this week, continuing the expansion of a commerce business that is the company’s most promising new source of revenue growth. The app aims to sell $20 billion in merchandise on the platform globally this year, Bloomberg has reported.

Some merchants who were invited to test out selling to U.S. consumers earlier this year say video campaigns on TikTok help boost sales on the site, but also on competing sites like Amazon and Walmart where U.S. shoppers are more accustomed to shopping. The steep discounts — bankrolled by TikTok — may help U.S. shoppers become more familiar with spending their money directly through the app.

Popular sale days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expected to play an especially important role in shoppers’ holiday plans this year, as consumers who have been hobbled by inflation will be particularly attracted to deals, according to a shopper survey by United Parcel Service Inc. 

TikTok will begin its Black Friday-specific sale at 8 p.m. New York time on Nov. 23. Its Cyber Monday sale will take place Nov. 28 to Nov. 30, according to the documents.

The app is already making itself known to consumers as a place for cheap products — many of them from China. The company offered free shipping and 20% off coupons to users ahead of the introduction of the designated shopping tab. The new marketplace puts price front-and-center in large font, and discounts are highlighted.

The Shop tab opens with “Today’s Deals.” Select users can also tag products in their video to make them shoppable.

“There are over 200,000 verified U.S. merchants on TikTok Shop selling legitimate products — including over 150,000 beauty products that have been validated through our process and represent some of the biggest names in the beauty business,” a TikTok spokesperson said last week.

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