Social commerce is ending 2020 with a bang as Walmart announced it will soon host livestreams with “fashion-loving TikTok creators” through which viewers can buy featured items directly on the platform.
The first one-hour livestream will be on Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. E.T. on Walmart’s TikTok page. It will feature nine “creators on the rise,” along with Michael Le, a dancer and choreographer better known as JustMaiko, who boasts 43 million followers.
According to a blog post, these creators will “reveal their favorite Walmart fashion finds in a way that’s uniquely their own”—and perhaps also uniquely of the moment—with at-home content like a peek in their closets and a living room fashion show. In so doing, they will “unwrap different styles and try on looks that can only be found at Walmart.”
Meanwhile, viewers can tap on the products they like to buy them.
“We’re excited that we have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this innovation in a shoppable livestream—a first on TikTok in the U.S.,” William White, CMO of Walmart U.S., wrote in the blog post. “It gives us a new way to engage with users and reach potential new customers, while bringing our own brand of fun … to the platform.”
TikTok announced a similar partnership with ecommerce platform Shopify earlier this year through which merchants can deploy shoppable video ads on the network.
Sarah Marzano, senior principal analyst at Gartner, pointed to Walmart’s early momentum on TikTok, where it has about 437,000 followers. She attributed part of its success to paying attention to TikTok-specific nuances rather than repurposing content.
“We’ve seen them partnering with TikTok-native influencers, who already bring an established audience to the table, and they create hashtag campaigns that encourage viewers to participate,” she added.
She also noted Walmart has been trying to position itself as more of a fashion destination. That’s partially because apparel is a higher-margin category than the groceries and household staples the retailer is historically known for. But there’s another very 2020 reason.
“I think they’ve been able to build on some of the traction that’s come from the pandemic, like being able to stay open given the fact they do sell essential goods and take advantage of the fact they can capture shopping trips in a way that a lot of apparel-focused retailers, especially someone who’s mall-bound, can’t,” Marzano added.
The focus on fashion and beauty may also help Walmart compete with a retailer like Target, which has more awareness among younger consumers, she said.
According to White, the retailer created the upcoming livestream to meet millions of Walmart customers where they are.
“We’re excited to engage with TikTok on this new experience and learn what’s possible for shopping on a platform that brings its community so much joy,” he added.
Kyle Rees, director at Gartner, however, said the partnership is a potentially bigger win for TikTok and its parent company ByteDance as it signals Walmart’s desire to diversify marketing channels.
“It suggests that a larger shift in advertising budgets may be underway as companies actively look to expand reach and influence outside of Facebook-owned platforms,” he said. “U.S. advertiser relationships with Facebook cooled significantly this summer and may not have thawed as much as we think.”
Now, Walmart is endorsing a platform heavily scrutinized by U.S. lawmakers this year. And, Rees said, it could provide fodder for the case the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is building against Facebook’s alleged anti-competitive business practices.