TikTok dropshipping is a business model where sellers use TikTok to market and sell products directly to consumers without holding inventory, relying on third-party suppliers to fulfill orders.
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Dropshipping has exploded in popularity in recent years as an accessible business model for aspiring entrepreneurs. One of the biggest opportunities right now is dropshipping products using the social media platform TikTok.
In this comprehensive guide, I'll explain everything you need to know to successfully get started with TikTok dropshipping.
What is TikTok Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where you sell products without keeping inventory. Instead, when you get an order, you purchase the item from a third-party supplier or manufacturer who then ships it directly to your customer.
With TikTok dropshipping, you advertise and sell products using TikTok as your platform. When someone purchases through your TikTok shop, you fulfill the order via your supplier.
This model allows you to run an e-commerce store without large upfront costs or the need to handle shipping and logistics yourself. TikTok provides access to a massive audience of potential customers.
Why Dropship on TikTok?
Here are some of the major benefits of using TikTok for dropshipping:
- Huge audience - TikTok has over 1.7 billion monthly active users globally. The platform is growing faster than any other social network.
- High engagement - The addictive, short-form video style leads to more time spent per user than other apps.
- Viral growth - Trending sounds, dances, and effects on TikTok can quickly make products go viral.
- Younger demographic - Over 50% of TikTok's audience is under 30, offering access to younger millennials and Gen Z.
- Affordable advertising - TikTok ads are relatively cheap compared to other paid platforms. Targeting options continue improving.
- Shopping features - TikTok's shoppable video ads, product links, and integrated e-commerce make selling straightforward.
- Creative storytelling - Video lends itself perfectly to demonstrating and storytelling around products.
The combination of an engaged audience, expansive reach, and built-in shopping features make TikTok a prime platform for testing and launching dropshipping businesses.
Step 1: Find Winning Products
The first step to TikTok dropshipping is finding trending, appealing products to sell. You want to identify items already resonating with TikTok's user base.
1. Check trending sounds and hashtags
Look at popular sounds and songs being used in videos. See which products are featured by creators making content with the trending audios.
Similarly, explore trending hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. Sort by recent videos to see the latest products getting traction.
2. Analyze ads and competitors
Search for ads running on TikTok relevant to your niche. You can utilize TikTok Creative Center to see the best ads on the platform. Pay attention to the products, creatives, targeting, and offers competitors use.
You can also look at the shops of top brands selling in TikTok to get inspiration.
3. Use e-commerce analytics software
Tools like Ecomhunt allow looking up best-selling AliExpress products sorted by orders, reviews, and other metrics. Filter by category to find trending products.
4. Check Google Trends
Look up relevant keyword trends on Google Trends. A spike in interest for a product category can indicate an opportunity.
5. Trust your instincts
Don't overlook your own intuition. Think about products that catch your eye while scrolling TikTok. Items you find yourself watching closely or wanting to buy could also appeal to others.
Step 2: Source Suppliers on AliExpress
Once you've identified potential winning products, it's time to find suppliers. AliExpress is the most popular platform used by TikTok dropshippers.
Benefits of AliExpress
Here are some of the main reasons AliExpress works well:
- Huge range of affordable products perfect for testing.
- Fast shipping from warehouses located around the world.
- Easy order fulfillment with Oberlo or other apps.
- Supplier ratings help identify reliable manufacturers.
- Variety of different batch sizes available.
Search on AliExpress using relevant keywords for your product idea. Filter by the number of orders and reviews.
Visit manufacturer storefronts to see their whole catalog. Sort by best-selling items.
Compare suppliers by price, shipping time, product variations, etc.
Test ordering samples yourself before promoting a product. Verify its quality and shipping speed.
Step 3: Set Up Your TikTok Shop
To sell products directly on TikTok, you need to create a TikTok Shop profile connected to your seller account.
Apply for a TikTok seller account using a business email and your business information. You can also convert a personal profile.
TikTok will ask for your business registration documents. Have your tax IDs, business licenses, and incorporation papers ready.
Once approved as a seller, you can enable your TikTok shop and begin uploading products.
Setting up your shop
Your TikTok shop profile is similar to your personal account. Add a profile picture, bio, website link, and contact information.
Use an enticing, brandable username like @gadgethub instead of a random name.
Upload a cover video showcasing your brand or products. Add shop sections like New Arrivals, Best Sellers, etc.
Step 4: List Products in Your TikTok Shop
With your shop profile ready, it's time to add products. You can manually upload products or connect Oberlo to sync them from AliExpress.
For each product, you'll enter details like:
- Title: Keep it clear, catchy, and <30 characters
- Description: Highlight benefits and use emojis
- Price: Set at 2-3x your product cost
- Images: Use lifestyle photos from suppliers or social proof
- Inventory: Manually update quantity or sync with supplier
- Shipping: Offer free shipping to encourage purchases
Add alt text for all images to improve accessibility. Use keywords naturally where possible.
Step 5: Promote Your Products
You have your products listed now. It's time to get them in front of TikTok's audience. There are several strategies to promote your TikTok shop.
1. Leverage organic content
Make fun, engaging videos showcasing your products in real-world use cases. Avoid overly salesy or promotional content. Trending sounds can help increase visibility.
Encourage viewers to check out your shop profile. Mention your username or add it to captions.
Reply to comments and offer discounts or special perks to spark interest.
2. Run TikTok ads
Use TikTok advertising to create video or image ads driving traffic to your shop profile or product listings. Target based on interests, behaviors, and demographics relevant to your products.
Short social proof ads showing your products being used work exceptionally well.
Leverage key shopping events like holidays, back-to-school, and seasonal changeovers.
3. Use influencer marketing
Gift products to relevant TikTok influencers in exchange for posts about your items. Ensure sponsored content is appropriately disclosed.
Micro-influencers with smaller, targeted audiences can be very effective for product promotion.
Offer discount codes or special perks exclusive to an influencer's audience.
4. Share natively on TikTok
Post TikTok shop product links directly in your captions. When users tap, they can view products and checkout in-app without leaving TikTok.
Add shoppable pins to your TikTok videos to link directly to products.
Go live with shoppable livestreams, allowing viewers to browse and buy as you stream.
Step 6: Fulfill Orders and Manage Customers
As your product videos and ads drive traffic, you'll begin receiving orders that need to be fulfilled.
Automated order processing
Tools like Oberlo allow automatically forwarding orders to AliExpress suppliers with a single click.
Oberlo lets you manage tracking info, inventory, and shipping status for all orders in one dashboard. Notifications and reminders ensure no orders fall through the cracks.
Managing shipping expectations
Be upfront with standard processing and transit times. Underpromise and overdeliver on shipping.
Offer faster shipping upgrades like DHL at checkout to manage expectations.
Proactively communicate shipment status and tracking info to customers.
Providing excellent service
Set up automatic abandoned cart recovery emails to win back customers.
Address questions and concerns promptly through social media or email support.
Offer easy returns and exchanges to remove friction and build trust.
Delivering exceptional service will earn repeat business and loyal brand advocates.
Tips for TikTok Dropshipping Success
Running a profitable TikTok dropshipping business takes some extra effort beyond just setting up a basic store. Here are some important tips to succeed.
Focus on long-term brand building
Don't just chase one viral product. Build a full brand with backstory, quality visuals, and consistency across channels.
Create content around your niche, not just specific products. Offer helpful advice and education.
Improve supplier relationships
Work closely with suppliers to negotiate better pricing, custom branding, and quality assurance.
Build trust by placing large, consistent orders and paying quickly. Suppliers will prioritize your shipments.
Analyze data and trends
Pay close attention to analytics for your TikTok content, ads, and shopping performance.
Watch for rising or falling costs, conversion rates, etc. Continuously test and optimize.
Reinvest to scale
Don't get stuck at one revenue level. Reinvest profits into inventory, marketing, automation, and outsourcing.
Hire freelancers to assist with ads, content creation, order processing, and customer service as needed.
TikTok Dropshipping Tools
As a dropshipper, you must utilize e-commerce platforms and automation tools to manage your operations efficiently.
Here are some of the most popular tools used by successful TikTok dropshippers:
- Shopify - Host your dropshipping storefront and integrate apps seamlessly. Shopify has strong support for TikTok commerce features.
- Oberlo - Synchronize products from suppliers and fulfill orders with a few clicks.
- AliDropship - A powerful AliExpress dropshipping solution for automation.
- eComhunt - Find trending AliExpress products to test in your store.
- AdPlist - Automate and manage your TikTok advertising campaigns.
- Google Trends - Identify rising product trends to capitalize on.
- Upscribe - Run email marketing and SMS campaigns to recover and retain customers.
- Loox - Collect and showcase social proof like customer photos and reviews.
Investing in the right tools will provide the efficiency needed to scale up your TikTok dropshipping store and maximize profits.
Pros and Cons of TikTok Dropshipping
- Low startup costs
- Access to a massive audience
- Highly engaging video format
- Viral potential for explosive growth
- Shoppable video ads and in-app checkout
- Target millennials and Gen Z
- Lots of low-quality competitors
- Must reinvest to scale
- Maintaining brand consistency across platforms
- Potentially high advertising costs
- Subject to TikTok algorithm changes
- Manual order processing can be time-consuming
Frequently asked questions
How much does it cost to start TikTok dropshipping?
The benefit of dropshipping is low startup costs. You can get started for less than $100 in most cases. Shopify has a free trial, and many tools are free up to certain order volumes.
You'll need a small ad budget and money for tool subscriptions and product samples. So expect an initial investment of between $100-$500 to start testing TikTok dropshipping.
What products sell best for TikTok dropshipping?
Trendy items under $50 perform well on TikTok. Examples include phone accessories, beauty products, jewelry, pet supplies, and quirky gadgets. Look for products with visual appeal that are easy to showcase through video. Check for existing demand on TikTok before selecting products.
Is it hard to get approved for a TikTok shop?
Gaining approval for a TikTok seller account can be challenging for a new business without an established e-commerce presence. Having professional branding and formal business registration documents helps.
If denied initially, focus on growing your brand's social presence and try applying again later.
How do you market a TikTok dropshipping store?
You can promote your products through TikTok ads, organic videos, influencer marketing, social media promotions, email marketing, and more. TikTok marketing is focused on short, engaging video content highlighting your products. Work with influencers in your niche to access their audiences.
Can you make money from TikTok dropshipping?
Yes, there is real profit potential with TikTok dropshipping. Many sellers make 5 to 6 figures in revenue. Success comes down to finding trending products with healthy margins, locking in low supplier costs, creative marketing, and excellent customer service. Patience and consistency are key.
TikTok provides a compelling new sales channel for aspiring e-commerce entrepreneurs. With the guidance in this guide, you have everything you need to start testing TikTok dropshipping.
Finding the right products, dialing in profitable advertising, and delivering an excellent customer experience will be key to succeeding.
Remember that consistency and dedication over an extended period are vital to building a profitable TikTok dropshipping business. However, the massive potential audience reach makes it a worthwhile investment for those willing to put in the work.
So, set up your TikTok shop, start testing products, and leverage TikTok's built-in commerce features. You might just create the next viral shopping sensation!