You can’t convince me that TikTok Shop isn’t QVC reincarnated. My inner conspiracy theorist has opinions. Like, what if all the accusations of propaganda and data issues is wrong. Instead, TikTok shop is a genius ploy to create the Gen Z version of QVC. Let’s take a look at what I mean.

What the hell is QVC?

QVC is an American television network and a flagship shopping channel. It specializes in televised home shopping. The acronym stands for “Quality Value Convenience.” Founded on June 13, 1986, Sears was one of the first brands to sell its products on the network. The live broadcast would run from 7:30 p.m. until midnight ET each weekday. In fact, it ran 24 hours a day each weekend!

The business has an interesting story. QVC moved towards e-commerce in 2006. QVC U.S. rebranded itself in 2007 with the tagline “iQdoU?” in its advertising campaign. It stood for “I shop QVC, do you?” A bit of a head scratcher to me, but nobody’s perfect. The campaign hit major billboards across the nation and included a “teaser” website.

The network integrated its shopping experience with Facebook in 2008. Then, Instagram in 2012. Fun fact I didn’t know. QVC launched a social shopping platform called toGather in 2013. It was like Pinterest. The platform let members set up a personalized newsfeed. They would view shopping recommendations from people and brands they followed. QVC shut down the site in January 2015.

Check out QVC’s first broadcast

It’s great isn’t it! Millennials and Boomers are well acquainted with broadcast (live) shopping. Just 4 easy payments of $19.95. QVC was home shopping. As in, you need to be sitting in front of the TV with access to a phone to shop and place an order. Livestream shopping or live shopping, is what popped up in China during the early 2010s.

Here’s how it looks in China as told by David Zhang. The video features some of the quickest selling you’ll ever see. You likely won’t see it adopted in the US, but it’s an incredible watch.

That wave lead to U.S. startups trying their hand. A slew of upstarts tried to convert social media users into social shoppers. COVID was great gas on the fire. But it ended up more like a trend than new sector of the economy. For context, in 2022, live shopping was 10% of their e-commerce market, or 5% of the total retail market. In the U.S., the numbers are 2% and 0.3% respectively.

So, yes, FOMO and exciting growth. But, a cottage industry in the scope of the total market. It’s a trend that didn’t have the leg power required to usher in tons of new sustainable businesses.

Tiktok enters the game

I’m a TikTok junkie. I notice subtle changes in trends and experience. I wasn’t the only person to notice. TikTok was becoming the QVC for Gen Z. First, they rolled out new features. Then, they changed the entire experience. TikTok went from a suite of shopping features to a full-blown shopping network.

The TikTop shop launched in 2022. It was for creators to sell their curated goods. Yet, it didn’t start becoming what it is today until September 2023. TikTok rolled out a full blown e-commerce business. The app fused together its creator network with e-commerce businesses. A merge that solidified it as the new QVC.

Content creators became hosts. ellers pay commissions on products so hosts will sell to the audience of their show. Their show is also known as their page. The network they’re selling on is you FYP (for you page).

Tiktok is QVC for Gen Z (and all generations)

Tiktok converted your FYP into QVC. Below is a video for a popular product. It mashes AI with hardware. Certain products have higher commission rates than others. This is the momentum mechanism. It allows the network (or seller) to motivate creators to sell. When commissions are high, you’ll see the same 2-3 products hit your FYP over and over again. Commissions are a form advertising on TikTok.

@mattkahla Never take notes in a meeting again! Introducing #PlaudNote which is an #AIVoiceRecorder #plaudnoteaivoicerecorder #plaudnoterevolution #plaudnotereview #TikTokShopValentinesDay #Kahlatalk #Kahlatech #kahlaDeals ♬ original sound – Matt Kahla, Jr.

We assume that content from creators will add credibility to brand-less products. If you have loyalty to a particular creators, it will. The downside is that everyone wants to make money from their online presence. That means you have tons of random people selling you as you scroll your feed. Buyer beware.

@concrete.stlz Definitely thought the Dc403 Digital Camera was just hype….I was wrong😂😂 #digitalcamera #vintagedigitalcamera #cameradigital #vintagecamera #cameras ♬ K DOT LIKE THAT – Stank Music

Key Takeaways

  • Brands should consider the tradeoff of revenue vs. brand reputation when selling goods on TikTok shop. Not every business that creates a product is looking for the advantages of brand recognition. If you fall into that category, ignore me.
  • Take advantage of user-generated content. UGC can be used for more than simple product promotion. Reviews and testimonials increase credibility and social proof. Consider product placement without in-your-face selling.
  • Pay attention to trends in selling. For instance, customers are buying more on mobile than ever before. Your website experience should be easy, fast, and functional.