TikTok’s livestreaming e-commerce function will go live in Indonesia on April 13, the first full day of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, according to a report by LatePost. TikTok completed its pilot for livestreaming e-commerce on March 9, drawing more than 10,000 simultaneous viewers at its peak.
There were shortcomings in payment channels at the time. Popular e-wallets like GrabPay and Ovo were not integrated as options, the report said.
Online shopping volume usually swells significantly in Indonesia during Ramadan. TikTok’s latest feature may give Indonesia’s online merchants a new means to reach customers.
So far, TikTok has not set goals for its gross merchandising value through livestreamed e-commerce. For now, TikTok’s main focus in Indonesia is to enrich e-commerce functionality and encourage businesses to take part in more live broadcasts, the report said.
Livestreaming e-commerce is increasingly popular in Southeast Asia as platforms like Shopee, Lazada, and Tokopedia have each rolled out their own version of the feature, giving sellers the space to promote their products in creative and engaging ways.
Last month, TikTok released its Ramadan Insights 2021 report, which unpacks user behavior during the month of fasting and reflection. The document suggests that TikTok users in Indonesia are very receptive to advertising, as 90% follow calls to action after viewing videos that promote products they like.
TikTok’s e-commerce ambitions
TikTok has been working its way into e-commerce for a while. LatePost reported that the company initially had designs for cross-border e-commerce services, where merchants could sell goods from China to customers in other markets. The project was shelved due to the complexity of logistics, customs, and compliance issues.
But the company’s ambitions didn’t stop there. In February, TikTok is said to have prepared various features for new e-commerce offerings in the United States, including a tool that lets its most popular creators share a link to products and earn commission on any sales converted via their accounts.
Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia, TikTok is hiring for roles related to e-commerce in Singapore and Indonesia, such as user and campaign operation specialist, category lead, and customer service specialist. Moreover, TikTok has launched an educational website called TikTok Shop Seller University, which the company described as a “training hub” to instill business skills and strategies centered around the video platform.
TikTok’s Southeast Asia business is headquartered in Singapore. That means any e-commerce operations in the city-state will be the consequence of an online payment license issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS.
Beginning in November 2020, the legal and public policy team of TikTok Singapore spent over two months resolving compliance issues related to platform policies, platform-talent-merchant tripartite agreements, and intellectual property rights. Payment compliance issues were the major hurdles, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to LatePost.
TikTok employees in Singapore and Jakarta have been in constant communication with the company’s e-commerce team in Beijing. TikTok’s team in Jakarta has generated a roster of 2,000 merchants that are present on Facebook, Instagram, and Shopee for recruitment purposes, LatePost reported.