‘Where social commerce can really happen’: What the presence of TikTok Shop in SEA means for beauty and social commerce

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

TikTok Shop in South East Asia could possibly accelerate the regional growth of social commerce. [Getty Images]
TikTok Shop in South East Asia could possibly accelerate the regional growth of social commerce. [Getty Images]

Related tags: TikTok, social commerce, South east asia

The arrival of TikTok Shop in South East Asia could possibly accelerate the regional growth of social commerce and open the region’s beauty brands to a wider international audience.

Michaes Chan believes the introduction of the short-form video platform’s commerce capabilities marked the arrival of “the only real social commerce platform” ​in SEA.

Chan is the chief of staff and chief business officer of Synagie, a Singapore-based e-commerce enabler that has partnered with TikTok to launch an incubation programme to help brands kickstart selling on TikTok Shop.

The firm told us that cosmetic majors including Shiseido, Mandom, and Mentholatum, were in talks to join this incubation programme.

“To me, unless the social commerce platform has a means of conversion within the platform itself, it cannot be called social commerce – that’s just affiliate marketing. TikTok has introduced conversion points, meaning you can transact on TikTok itself, and that makes it a place where social commerce can really happen because you don’t have to click out,” ​he told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.

In previous instalments of CosmeticsDesign-Asia’sHow to win over…​ and Beauty Broadcast​ series, we have explored social commerce and its potential in SEA, as well as the obstacles to its mass adoption.

While beauty brands are eager to tap into social commerce, it is still a fragmented space that lacks integrated backend systems.

“One of the biggest problems that we are facing is backend integration. We started this journey doing social commerce on Facebook, and there wasn’t a real backend they are able to connect to. It was either problems in our supply chain or problems replying to our customers. It was just very hard for us to scale,” ​said Olive Tai, managing director and co-founder of Synagie.

Unlike other platforms, Tai told us TikTok has a “really very robust”​ backend system that other platforms do not, which she believes will help accelerate social commerce in the region.

“Before TikTok came into this region, the first thing we talked to them about is backend integration. I think that is one of the things that makes them very different compared to the rest. I think this will definitely help onboard all the brand partners and even the KOLs.”

A long reach

Once on TikTok Shop, Tai believes the opportunities for beauty brands are tremendous, given the sheer size of its fast-growing global user base.

“TikTok is one of the fastest growing social platforms as I’m sure everyone is aware. We’re looking at about one billion active users worldwide. This really opens up the brand to an audience without boundaries, giving us a huge opportunity.”

Tai highlighted Wahl, a brand of professional and personal grooming tools, that has the potential to benefit from being on TikTok Shop.

“Wahl is a very good example of how we can bring a brand that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia and bring them to the rest of the overseas market because TikTok has an international audience. It’s a huge opportunity to amplify the reach and drive consumer engagement.”

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