TikTok scales back its livestream shopping plans in the West

July 8, 2022 3:00 am

TikTok, the global social media sensation, has paused its e-commerce expansion plans, after testing the waters in the UK, according to a Financial Times report.

After the app’s Chinese counterpart Douyin successfully turned its live-stream shopping into a lucrative business, and connected millions of content creators and online businesses to new opportunities, the company launched livestream shopping in the UK in late last year.

Since then, the app has initiated livestream shopping in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand in this April. TikTok previously planned to branch out its e-commerce “TikTok Shop” business to Germany, France, Italy and Spain by now, and foray into the U.S. market this year. However, contrary to the company’s previous ambitions, it had to paused such expansion plans and now wishes to focus on managing the business in the UK, where its attempt has turned out to be fruitless and controversial.

TikTok’s livestream shopping moves hasn’t been able to gain traction and failed to help businesses increase sales. In addition, the business faced massive backlash after one of its high level executive reportedly spoke against maternity leaves. Employees of TikTok in the UK calls the workplace “toxic”, and “built on fear”, according to a report by Business & Human Rights Research Center. Half of TikTok’s London ecommerce team’s original staff has left, while others are “on the brink of quitting”, per Financial Times.

The company’s temporary suspension of its expansion plans comes at the same time that global e-commerce giant Amazon roll out incentives to attract influencers. Amazon has reportedly offered thousands of dollars to influencers who chooses to livestream on Amazon Live instead of other platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram.