Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
TikTok creators will soon be able to sell merchandise they design and create directly to fans via the app itself.
Creator commerce platform Teespring is set to roll out the integration soon, and it’s currently being tested with a limited group of users. Thousands of TikTok creators have already partnered with Teespring to start creating merchandise they can sell to their followers. The integration will allow “creators to create their own products on Teespring, push it directly to TikTok, and then have fans be able to buy products directly through TikTok,” Teespring CEO Chris Lamontagne told The Verge. It marks the first time that creators can sell their own merchandise directly through TikTok.
There are a number of questions the Teespring team is still trying to figure out, including which TikTok creators are eligible to use the integration and how the merchandising shelf will appear in videos. On YouTube, a creator’s Teespring shelf sits directly under their videos. YouTube’s layout allows for this, though, as it’s slightly more complicated on TikTok. Lamontagne and his team are still testing how the actual shopping experience will appear on the app, but he told The Verge that the goal is to essentially create a full shop functionality inside TikTok.
Currently, more than 4,000 TikTok creators in the US have access to the private beta. They’ll be able to create and design “from a choice of 180 different products as well as the opportunity to create bespoke products which are completely unique to them,” according to a press release. These aren’t your typical T-shirts and hoodies — although those will be available, too. Lamontagne and his team have found that as creator commerce and merchandising mature, products become more specialized. Skateboard decks, for example, are just one area that creators are looking into.
“We believe, based on the current trend, that non-apparel items will be outselling apparel by this time next year,” Lamontagne said. “Layering in really smart commerce opportunities is key, so it could be physical merchandise or it could be something more digital.”
Giving TikTok creators the ability to monetize their popularity is something that people have asked about for a while. TikTok is far more similar to Instagram than it is YouTube when it comes to monetization; creators can secure their own brand deals for sponsored posts, but there isn’t an equivalent to Google AdSense, which allows YouTube creators to take a portion of a video’s advertising revenue. TikTok launched a $200 million creator fund with a goal of ensuring that some personalities can sustain themselves financially solely through TikTok. For everyone else, merchandise is often one of the best ways for creators to monetize their influence. Teespring has “has paid out over $80M in creator profits over the past 2 years,” according to its press release.
“We as a collective need to think about creators in this way where they’ve got super engaged fans who love them — there’s already this connection,” Lamontagne said.
The full integration is set to roll out in September. That’s also when Lamontagne and his team hope to have creator eligibility criteria sorted out. According to Lamontagne, there’s “a waiting list of people coming through,” and the goal is to ensure that every creator who wants to sell merchandise can do so.