Gold Flake Snail Facial Serum for $3.20, a box of sand for $2.34, and candles shaped and scented like Starbucks Frappuccinos for $5.63. You may not have it on your Christmas wish list, but you can find it on the TikTok Shop, which is already offering huge discounts before black Friday.
TikTok Shop’s Black Friday deals started at the end of October. And there is a bewildering range of products with steep discounts. You can get 50 percent off beauty products, coupons offering 15, 20, and 25 percent off orders, and coupons for 30 percent off with no minimum spend for first-time buyers. The app’s 200,000 sellers can also choose items to receive discounts in the store, creating their own sales, which can be further subsidized by TikTok discounts.
While Black Friday sales at other major retailers will be packed with big-name brands, at TikTok Shop it’s a real mixed bag. Larger, more established retailers are mixed with indistinguishable third-party sellers selling brand-name beauty and home goods. There are “crisp cups” or to-go cups that hold cereal and milk separately, a small wall safe disguised as a light switch, an “anti-anxiety” collar, and an umbrella for a dog.
All of these odds come from sellers looking to break through and make money on Black Friday. And they have a chance to win big: Small businesses can see a flood of interest overnight if their products take off. Tik Tok is trying to do what other social apps have tried and failed: make a splash in social shopping, just in time for the holiday season.
For smaller sellers, TikTok’s biggest asset — the way it connects people with products — can be both a blessing and a curse. If an article goes viral, it creates unprecedented demand. Paul Jauregui, co-founder of BK Beauty with his wife Lisa, says the TikTok Shop model fits their cosmetics brand perfectly: Lisa started on YouTube with makeup tutorials and they’ve relied on social media marketing to find customers.
But the BK Beauty brushes work almost too well. Between the launch of TikTok Shop and mid-November, the company has sold more than 30,000 brushes. Jáuregui says that has almost tripled his business. “As demand starts to really take off, it’s put a lot of pressure on our inventory,” he says. “It’s a good problem, but at the end of the day, it’s a problem.” Jáuregui says BK Beauty discounted brushes, but TikTok Shop subsidizes prices even more, leading to those deep discounts people see. TikTok did not provide a figure when asked how much of sellers’ prices it is subsidizing.