TikTok Live Shopping VS Live Shopping On-Site: Which Is Best?

As live shopping continues to grow in popularity, several platforms have emerged for brands to utilise this method of selling. One key choice brands face is the decision whether to host their live shopping events through social media platforms such as TikTok or to host them directly on their own ecommerce site. Establishing the benefits and drawbacks of the two formats can help make the decision clearer for those looking to pursue live shopping, a format which sees conversion rates 10 times higher than other ecommerce formats

TikTok Live Shopping 

TikTok App

The live shopping format first found success in China, and this success has continued to flourish. Live shopping commerce sales are expected to reach an impressive 4.9 trillion Yuan in China this year. 

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is based in China, and as such they have looked to exploit the success of live selling with Western consumers by bringing the format to TikTok.  

What is TikTok Live Shopping: 

TikTok live shopping allows brands to promote their products live to users of the TikTok app. A host goes live through the app on a brand or personal account. Users can then attend the live selling experience, engaging with the stream through likes and comments. They can also purchase the products in the show without leaving the app.

Benefits of TikTok Live Shopping: 

Engaging a Brand’s audience

Through live shopping experiences, potential customers are able to interact with a brand in real-time, offering ‘likes’ and asking questions in the comments. Having these questions answered live can help a brand to really connect with their audience. What’s more, when products are demonstrated live, or models wear items live, viewers become more confident in the quality of the products, increasing trust in the brand and therefore potential sales. 

Reaching New Customers

Many People On Phones

TikTok has over 1 billion active monthly users. Through utilising TikTok live shopping, brands are able to tap into this growing audience, with their live shopping experience being featured on the ‘for you’ page, and being easily shareable between friends. As such, brand exposure can grow, with new customers joining streams, and engaging with the brand. 

In-App Checkout

The checkout process through a live shopping experience on TikTok is made simple for the consumer. Users can click on the products displayed in the live stream, and check out within the app. This reduces the number of steps required to make a purchase, preventing drop-off due to excessive checkout steps. 

Drawbacks of TikTok Live Shopping:

It is clear TikTok can offer brands some positive incentives to use the app for live shopping. However, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks of this format.  

Consumer Trust

While checking out within the TikTok app makes purchases easy, many consumers feel too uncomfortable doing so. Increasing press coverage of TikTok’s data collection practices may worry consumers. Furthermore, 82% of reviews on TikTok Shop’s Trustpilot page are 1-star, with many reviews disappointed by TikTok’s lack of support after reporting issues with purchases. 

Live Selling Is Restricted

TikTok has several rules governing what can and cannot be sold on its platform. Selling food products is “invite-only”, and a range of documentation is required to be submitted and reviewed before selling beauty products and electronics. For those looking to sell certain products, TikTok live selling is therefore not possible. 

TikTok Is An Entertainment Platform First

78% of TikTok users primarily use the app to find funny or entertaining content. As such, the majority of people do not come to TikTok to make purchases. While TikTok may be a great way to grow a brand’s audience, the likelihood they make a purchase is low, given few people are actively shopping when using the app. 

Hosting Live Shopping Events On-site 

An alternative to TikTok live shopping is for brands to host the events on their own site, using dedicated live shopping platforms to provide the technology. 

How Does Hosting On-Site Work?

Easy-to-use tools such as Smartzer allow brands to create live shopping experiences that can be embedded on-site. The technology is very similar to that of TikTok live shopping with comments, reactions, and products being featured throughout the show. The event can be accessed through a dedicated landing page, with brands driving traffic to their site.

Benefits Of Hosting Live Shopping On-Site

Hosting live shopping events on-site comes with many similar benefits seen through hosting on TikTok. The overall experience and format are similar, hence positives such as engaging the audience through the interactive live shopping format are also seen on-site. There are also other benefits found through hosting the events on-site that cannot be found through TikTok live shopping. 

People Visit eCommerce Sites To Shop

When people visit a brand’s website, they are there to explore products and make purchases. With instant add-to-cart available through live shopping on-site, this process is made even easier. The average view time of live shopping events hosted on-site is significantly higher compared to social platforms, showing that the audience present are more interested in the content. Therefore, with people viewing the content for longer, being actively willing to shop when on brand websites, the purchase likelihood increases. 

New Customers

Just as TikTok live shopping can help to expand your audience, hosting events on-site can have a similar effect. 60% of the audience watching Superpharm's live shopping events became new customers, attracted by the exciting new format and ability to engage with the company. Bringing live commerce to a brand’s website therefore  is a great way to find new customers. 

Data Collection

Hosting on-site means brands have access to a wealth of data about their viewers. Platforms like Smartzer have dedicated analytics dashboards, giving brands a clear idea of exactly how viewers interact with their live streams, with data down to the product level. Furthermore, integrations with platforms such as GTM offer brands a new stream of data that can be used to retarget customers based on products they have interacted with in live shopping events. 

Drawbacks Of Hosting Live Shopping On-site

Harder to Drive Traffic

Driving traffic to live shopping events on-site can be challenging. People may not be aware of the events, or be busy at the time they are hosted. It’s therefore useful for brands to create campaigns to raise awareness or ‘hype’ for the streams, to ensure they can reach as large an audience as possible. Smartzer’s live stream recording feature also allows customers to watch a recording of the stream and still shop the products on show, even if they were unable to join the show live. 


To host a live shopping event on-site, it must be embedded. This requires brands to create and embed the project. Thankfully, platforms like Smartzer offer simple embedding integrations with Shopify, as well as single-line code embedding for other ecommerce sites, streamlining this process into a simple, short task. 

TikTok Live Shopping VS Hosting On-Site: What Should Brands Choose?

The live shopping format overall lends itself to increased audience engagement, helping to drive up to 10 times higher conversion rates from the event. Both hosting options offer a great way to increase a brand’s audience, whether that be through the nature of the TikTok app, or through new customers being intrigued by the unique experience offered on a brand’s site. Both options also offer a seamless experience, either checking out directly through the TikTok app, or instantly adding to cart when on-site. 

Where live shopping on site stands out is the mindset of the consumers viewing the shows. As opposed to opening an app expecting to be entertained, shoppers on-site are there to make a purchase, on a brand's website which they trust. Adding the data collection and retargeting potential from on-site live shopping, brands can see the events add value far beyond the actual live stream. This is not something that is currently possible through TikTok live shopping. 

While live shopping offers brands the opportunity to unlock a fantastic new revenue stream, hosting these events on-site is the better way to fully unlock its potential.

To find out more about how to set up live shopping on your website, get in touch with Smartzer today!