A Guide to Shopping on TikTok Live

A Guide to Shopping on TikTok Live
Image: TikTok / @Glamclio, @crystal_jewellery_sg_ahua, @tinytoyland_official

First, there was Facebook Live, Shopee Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, and now, TikTok has finally joined the live stream foray with the launch of TikTok Live. 

There’s just something about watching someone else live streaming knowing that you are somehow connected to the person at that point in time. So what makes TikTok Live different? 

TikTok Live is a live-streaming feature on the popular social media platform TikTok. It allows users to broadcast live videos to their followers and other users. It’s becoming increasingly popular, with 1 in 5 live-streaming users watching TikTok Live.

A TikTok live stream of Hakata Station in Fukuoka, Japan.

When I first tried it, I got people’s random live streams from someone’s game live play, some girl who said she couldn’t sleep, two guys videoing themselves talking to each other on the phone (WHY?), your typical girls wearing bunny or cat ears acting cute, to a random live camera of Hakata Station in Fukuoka, Japan (this was my favourite because no people). 

To buy gifts for live streamers, viewers have to first purchase these coins in exchange for gifts.

People who go live can earn money in the form of gifts. To buy these gifts, viewers have to purchase these coins to afford these gifts. The idea of making a quick buck through these live streams is likely why there are the most random of streams out in the ether. 

One of the reasons for TikTok Live’s growing popularity is the emergence of e-commerce opportunities on the platform. Creators are now able to sell products directly to their viewers during live streams. During these, viewers can browse products and make purchases without having to leave the TikTok app. They can also ask the creator questions about the products and get replies. Plus, it seems to be effective as a way to make money. Apparently, 50% of TikTok users have bought something after watching TikTok Live.


How to participate in a TikTok Live

  1. First, create your own TikTok account 
  2. Click the LIVE button at the top left corner to enter a live stream 
  3. Swipe up until you find something you’re interested in. 
  4. You can also click Explore to bring up other channels where you can browse and enter 
  5. (It takes a while for the algorithm to adjust to your preferences) 
  6. Set up payment methods if you haven’t already. You’ll be paying from your linked card on your app store. 

TikTok LIVE has a wide variety of content to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that you’ll enjoy. You can browse live streams by category or searching for specific keywords.

Once you’ve found a live stream that you’re interested in, simply tap on it to join. You’ll be able to watch the live stream and interact with the host and other viewers in the chat.

Not all live streams are shopping channels though. It took me a while to swipe before I came across one that had shopping options. 

Here you can see product options (left) and when you click the little Shop option at the bottom right, it brings up the entire catalogue of items available (right). There are also discount coupons at the top.

The interface is pretty similar to Lazada and Shopee, so if you’re familiar with those platforms, you’d have no difficulty shopping on TikTok.

However, have you wondered how a product will turn out especially if there are no reviews with quality images?

The beauty of live streams is that you can interact with the host and ask questions. That means you could get the sellers to try on the items for you, compare sizes, or even ask them for styling options.

These real-time demonstrations are a great way to learn more about a product and see how it works before you buy it. Hosts also often offer discounts and promotions to viewers during live streams so you can save money on your purchases. 

If the host is promoting a product, you can tap on the product to learn more about it and purchase it. TikTok Live makes it easy to shop for products without even disrupting your live stream viewing.


How do I make my first purchase on TikTok Live?

When you see an item you want, simply add it to your cart. On the checkout page, if it’s your first time, you’ll be asked to add your debit/credit card or opt to pay with GrabPay, and then place your order. Simple! 

Do note that TikTok offers a coupon code for your first purchase on the app so don’t forget to add the discount before placing your order.

The seller’s profile shows how long it takes for the product to be shipped out. The ones I came across mostly showed within 48 hours. 

TikTok has some policies in place to protect customers too. One of these is an auto-cancellation function which automatically cancels orders and refunds buyers if sellers dispatch their orders late. 

If you’ve bought something and changed your mind after, you can still cancel your order provided it’s made less than 1 hour from the order time and if it’s shipped by the seller. If the product is being shipped by TikTok, you can cancel it as long as the order status hasn’t changed to “To Ship – Awaiting Collection”.


How to shop safely on TikTok Live

If you’re thinking of shopping on TikTok Live, it’s important to shop safely especially with all sorts of harebrained schemes these days where you can even be scammed buying mooncakes and durians. 

Do your research before buying a product. Read reviews and compare prices on other websites to make sure you are getting a good deal. Check if the seller is legit and verified. 

Don’t engage in impulse buying either. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a livestream and buy something that you do not really need. There’s no need to feel pressured to buy something just because everyone else is buying it. 

Beware of scammers though since TikTok LIVE makes it possible for almost anyone to go Live. Check the seller’s verified or official status, their bio, look at reviews and their rating. Clicking on the seller’s profile also shows their contact information, including the last 4 digits of a Singapore phone number.

And as always, be careful about giving out your personal information. No seller should ask for your personal information. 

No matter what, do your research before you buy anything. Also, beware of clicking links in the chat. Some may be spam or phishing links. If you’re not sure about a link, just don’t click on it.


Should you shop on TikTok Live? 

Most of the products are nothing special. I found luggage, random skincare items that look suspiciously like MLM products, perfume (how would I know these are legit?), power banks, China OEM products like tumblers and stainless steel cups that you can find the same on Shopee, Lazada and Taobao, pet items like cat sofas and scratch beds, cheap-looking bags … the list goes on. 

The appeal of live shopping mainly lies in the personality of the creators and discounts on items during live streams. 

As someone who tries to avoid impulse buys—and also because we’re encouraging people to be savvy about their money here—I would say don’t buy things on impulse.

Do your research on these products, check if the seller also has an account on other platforms, take note of prices for something you really want and wait for sales if you really want the product. 

Happy safe shopping! 


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