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Published: Nov 18, 2019 2 min read
TikTok National Security Investigation
NurPhoto—NurPhoto via Getty Images

TikTok is experimenting with a feature that would let its 1 billion users worldwide buy products featured in videos with just a few clicks.

Following in the footsteps of Instagram and Pinterest, the short form video app — which is monstrously popular among teenagers — has given a handful of its top creators the option to add “shopping cart” URLs to their content. The in-beta link lets TikTok users buy products from each other, without ever leaving the app.

TikTok already has sponsored posts from brands, but as AdWeek explains, “Unlike the paid-for video ads from major brands, this offering could theoretically allow any TikToker to turn the platform into a one-stop shop for his or her own online store.”

The move is the latest sign of the tech industry's growing interest in social commerce, an idea that's changing the way we shop via the web, social media, and "smart" technology like Amazon Alexa.

Last year, Pinterest debuted a feature that lets businesses turn photos of their products into "visual, actionable ads." Instagram, for its part, allows brands to tag product photos with price information and a link to buy directly through the app.

Social commerce is still finding its footing in the U.S., but it's a big trend in China, where TikTok is headquartered, according to the Wall Street Journal.

TikTok parent company Bytedance, Ltd is one of the world’s most valuable startups, with an estimated value of $75 billion, the Journal says.

Fabian Bern, founder of the Chinese influencer agency Uplab, told AdWork that TikTok's new shopping feature launched first on the Chinese version of the app, Douyin, in early 2018.

“The company is known to launch things quietly,” he said.