TikTok dropshipping: pros, cons, and how to do it

TikTok is not just for viral dance videos, it can be a great platform to grow your dropshipping business. We’ll take you through the essentials.

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From its prolific user base to its seamless integration with ecommerce platforms for dropshipping, TikTok is a prime place to grow your dropshipping business. However, there is steep competition, so it’s important to know how to pick the right products and market your store to ensure a steady income stream with the potential to grow.

What is TikTok dropshipping?

TikTok dropshipping is selling products from third-party suppliers direct to consumers – without the need to maintain a physical inventory. This makes dropshipping a low-cost and flexible entrepreneurial venture. TikTok dropshippers use the social media app to advertise their products they’re offering and drive traffic to their ecommerce store, making use of TikTok’s paid ads, collaborations with influencers, and original organic content.

Pros & cons of TikTok dropshipping

As one of the largest social media platforms, TikTok is a great place to reach and engage with your target audience – but there are a few drawbacks. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

✔️ Quickly test the market → with no need to invest in physical inventory, you can swiftly evaluate product viability. This agility makes it easier to test different inventories and marketing strategies, so you can be sure that the products you sell will be popular with your target audience.
✔️ Widen audience reach → while not every TikTok user may convert into a customer, the ready-made traffic of the platform makes it easier to expand your reach. With 23.38 million monthly users in the UK alone, the potential to tap into a wide audience is huge.
✔️ Easily connect with customers → You can seamlessly integrate TikTok into a multi-platform marketing strategy, maximising your outreach and engagement with potential customers. For instance, your customers can access your ecommerce store and complete their customer journey with minimal effort on their part – and they won’t need to leave TikTok.

🔴 High competition → despite the possibility of videos going viral and garnering significant shares, engagement on TikTok doesn’t automatically translate to conversions. The platform’s competitive landscape demands a robust marketing plan to really appeal to customers.
🔴 Limited customer support → based on our research, we found that there are numerous negative customer reviews voicing dissatisfaction with TikTok’s customer service. This means that you might be forced to be proactive in resolving issues, find alternative solutions, or resort to other support channels if you have a TikTok dropshipping SOS.

How do I start a TikTok dropshipping shop?

Setting up a TikTok shop isn’t too complicated or technical. These are the essential steps you need to start your dropshipping venture on the social media platform.

  1. Create a TikTok account: begin by setting up your TikTok account, ensuring it mirrors the brand identity of your dropshipping store. Add your business logo as the profile picture, and craft a bio that includes a link to your dropshipping store. This will create a straightforward connection between your TikTok presence and your ecommerce store.
  2. Switch to a business account: ensure that you have your account set up for TikTok for Business. You can easily do this via the settings on TikTok. A business account will give you access to royalty-free music and Business Suite tools.
  3. Merge with TikTok Ads Manager: integrate your account with TikTok Ads Manager to gain in-depth analytics, such as audience traffic insights. This step is crucial for refining your marketing strategy and optimising your TikTok dropshipping campaign.
  4. Create a dropshipping store: create your dropshipping store using an ecommerce website builder – based on our in-depth research, we recommend using Shopify as it has a rich range of features and seamless integrations. Fill in your inventory with products you intend to dropship, keeping in mind your target audience and market trends.
  5. Install the TikTok app on Shopify: navigate the Shopify App store and search for TikTok. Install the app and connect it to your TikTok for Business account (alongside your TikTok Ads Manager account). Ensure that Pixel is active in TikTok Ads Manager to effectively track your analytics.
  6. Choose the right dropshipping supplier: look for suppliers with international warehouses, fast shipping times, favourable return and payment policies, robust customer support, and a diverse and affordable product range. Consider suppliers supported by automation software for smoother operation.

How does TikTok dropshipping work?

TikTok dropshipping involves a strategic process that maximises audience reach and ensures smooth operations. Here’s a breakdown of how the TikTok dropshipping mechanism operates:

  1. Importing products: once you’ve identified a reliable supplier, the first step is to add products to your dropshipping store. This can be done manually or automatically. Manual importing involves copying product details from the supplier’s page and pasting them individually into your selling channel. If you opt for the automatic route, your dropshipping software will automatically transfer product information between platforms. Keep in mind, you’ll still need to check for accuracy and optimise your descriptions so they’re SEO-friendly.
  2. Promotion on TikTok: once your dropshipping store is live, you’ll need to start marketing your products on TikTok. You can do this through organic marketing or by running ad campaigns. For organic marketing, we recommend recording yourself using the product and showcasing its features. Alternatively, you can use paid ads to enhance product visibility, making it easier for viewers to access your dropshipping store and make purchases.
  3. Order fulfilment: fulfilling customer orders can be done manually or automatically. Manual fulfilment involves purchasing items from the supplier’s website, providing customer shipping details, and handling payment methods. However, this method makes you susceptible to human error, potentially leading to customer complaints. Automatic order fulfilment – supported by suppliers that offer this feature – streamlines the process and reduces the likelihood of mistakes.
  4. Customer communication: open live chats, provide email details, and create ticket submission options through your selling channels. Connecting with your customers enhances their experience and reflects the quality of your customer service.

How does it make money?

Making money through TikTok dropshipping comes down to how savvy you are with pricing strategies. You can negotiate wholesale deals with providers so your profit margin is wider when you set your retail price. While the maths is relatively simple, keep in mind that TikTok is not a quick wealth solution – it takes time to gain traction and secure consistent sales.

What are the best products to sell?

When it comes to TikTok dropshipping, targeting the right audience is key. Firstly, you need to consider that the dominant age bracket of users is 20-29 years old, so you’ll want to find products that are trending amongst Gen Zers.

Here are some products that have recently done well:

  • LED lights, particularly strip lights
  • Beauty products, including skincare and makeup brushes
  • Sunglasses
  • Phone cases
  • Hand butter churners

How do I find good TikTok dropshipping products?

Finding the right products is key to TikTok dropshipping success. Here are a couple of strategies to help you find the right inventory:

  • Spy on your competition → analyse competitors in your niche. Observe their product offerings, marketing strategies, and customer engagement.
  • Analyse TikTok ads and hashtags → explore what’s trending under hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. This reveals current consumer preferences and emerging trends that can guide your product selection.
  • Google Trends → use this tool to understand the search volume and popularity of potential products over time, helping ensure your selection aligns with market demands.
  • Search supplier best-seller sections → navigate supplier websites and explore their best-seller sections. This provides direct insight into products that are already performing well.

Are TikTok ads expensive?

Using TikTok Ad Manager, the platform’s ads offer a range of options for businesses to promote their content.. The cost structure is based on a cost per mile metric, where advertisers pay around £9 for every 1,000 views. Setting a budget is flexible, but initiating an advertising campaign on TikTok generally requires a minimum investment of approximately £410. While this might be considered pricey, the platform's vast user base could make it a worthwhile investment for businesses looking to reach a younger dynamic audience.

Verdict: is TikTok good for dropshipping?

TikTok dropshipping can be a lucrative avenue for rising entrepreneurs who want to expand their reach and engage with a vibrant audience. However, you’ll need to be savvy about how you promote your dropshipping store, such as paid advertising or organic content. With the right products, TikTok dropshipping can become your next successful business venture.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are some ways to drive traffic to my TikTok dropshipping store, and measure their effectiveness?
    To boost traffic to your TikTok dropshipping store, leverage popular hashtags, collaborate with influencers, and create engaging content showcasing your products. Measure effectiveness through TikTok Analytics, tracking views, engagement, and conversion rates. Optimise strategies based on performance data to continually enhance your store's visibility and drive sales.
  • What should I look for in an influencer partner?
    Select influencers aligned with your target audience on TikTok, emphasising engagement, authenticity, and a genuine interest in your products. Analyse their follower demographics, engagement rates, and past collaborations. Prioritise influencers who resonate with your brand values to maximise the impact of your partnership and enhance credibility.
  • How can I grow my TikTok store?
    Grow your TikTok store by consistently posting engaging content, leveraging trending hashtags, and collaborating with influencers. Use TikTok Ads Manager strategically to expand reach. Interact with your audience, respond to comments, and offer promotions to boost visibility. Analyse analytics to refine your approach and continually optimise for growth.
Written by:
Fernanda is a Mexican-born Startups Writer. Specialising in the Marketing & Finding Customers pillar, she’s always on the lookout for how startups can leverage tools, software, and insights to help solidify their brand, retain clients, and find new areas for growth. Having grown up in Mexico City and Abu Dhabi, Fernanda is passionate about how businesses can adapt to new challenges in different economic environments to grow and find creative ways to engage with new and existing customers. With a background in journalism, politics, and international relations, Fernanda has written for a multitude of online magazines about topics ranging from Latin American politics to how businesses can retain staff during a recession. She is currently strengthening her journalistic muscle by studying for a part-time multimedia journalism degree from the National Council of Training for Journalists (NCTJ).

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