TikTok is making it easier for creators to turn looped video streams into pure American profit.
The embattled social media company announced Monday that it had entered into a new partnership with the customized online merch platform Teespring. The integration will allow creators to include links to their Teespring products directly in their videos.
TikTokkers with hearty followings already frequently link to personal merchandise stores in their bios. Selling merch like clothing, as well as digital tutorials or templates, is a popular way for independent creators to earn cash from the people who consume their content for free. The new Teespring integration builds on what creators are already doing themselves with an official and more streamlined tool.
“Creators are the heart and soul of TikTok and we are constantly looking for ways to bring more value and opportunities for them within our platform,” Sean Kim, TikTok’s US head of product, told Mashable in an emailed statement. “Teespring empowers creators to design and sell their own products, and this shared creator-first mindset made them the right partner for an e-commerce integration. We are looking forward to building upon our ongoing commitment to support creators through monetary opportunities and, in the meantime, are excited to see what ideas creators bring to life on Teespring.”
The program is currently in beta testing, and will officially launch in September. Teespring is already working with 7,000+ creators and has invited some of them into a private beta. Creators who want to get the integration will have to meet eligibility criteria around the amount of followers they have and the content they produce.
You can see an example of what the new integration will look like through this post from TikTok user @bonnierzm: If you open the link in the TikTok app, a translucent gray box with a shopping bag icon with the words “Limited edition shirt here” appears, linked to BonnieRZM’s Teespring store. As opposed to a Teespring link in bio, which takes users out of the app and to an external web page, clicking on the in-video link opens the store within TikTok itself.
Having shopping all in one place is a valuable tool for creators trying to sell products, because the fewer steps there are between your social media page and the “buy” — less friction in sales speak — the more it encourages people to make that purchase. That’s something Facebook knows well, as it continues to make shopping in Instagram ever more integrated with the experience.
What’s not clear yet is what’s in it for TikTok. The company has launched several initiatives to help its creators make money, including a $1 billion TikTok Creator Fund that it will allocate to users for their businesses over the next three years. However, TikTok and Teespring declined to answer whether the companies would make commissions on sales made through the integration. Teespring makes its money by actually providing and selling the products (whether physical or digital) to the owners of the customized stores. But what piece of the pie TikTok will get remains to be seen.