Walmart Doubles Down on Social Selling, TikTok

"We want to continue to test and learn to see what’s possible for shopping in the fastest growing community on social media,” says Walmart CEO.

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Need to Know

  • Walmart recently hosted a second livestream shopping event, the “Spring Shop-Along: Beauty Edition,” on TikTok, after pilot-testing livestream shopping on the site in December.
  • The company has been on TikTok since October 2019, and is looking to increasingly leverage its beauty category using the social media app.
  • Walmart is aiming to use TikTok to reach its target demo of millennials and young families and well as GenZers, who may be new to the brand.

Analysis

Walmart is looking to increasingly harness the selling power of TikTok.

After a December livestream shopping event, which saw the company increase its TikTok following by 25%, Walmart hosted a Spring Shop-Along featuring popular TikTok content creators such as Gabby Morrison. Like the holiday event, the Spring livestream saw Morrison and other TikTok influencers discuss beauty products sold by Walmart, which viewers could then purchase from Walmart, directly within TikTok.

Now, in an interview with Glossy, Walmart CEO William White detailed how TikTok is a growing part of the company’s digital strategy, as Walmart aims to not only engage TikTok’s younger demographic, but to use events such as the shoppable livestreams to gain a better understanding of customer trends in realtime.

In the interview, White explained that the key to Walmart’s social commerce strategy is “building relationships with our customers and meeting them where they are.”

“We … like the idea of being a retail leader and charting new territory for our brand and our customers,” White said. “We were excited to be at the forefront of this shopping innovation with our first event in December and want to continue to test and learn to see what’s possible for shopping in the fastest growing community on social media.”

White went on to note that, for Walmart, the livestream shopping events aren’t just meant to drive conversions: they’re part of Walmart’s overall strategy of engaging customers online and reaching new audiences. He cited the prevalence of Generation Z TikTok users, noting that this younger demographic may be unfamiliar with Walmart and its offerings; in targeting Gen Z shoppers with products and content creators they love, using TikTok, Walmart is hoping to expand its customer base beyond shoppers who may already be loyal to their brand.

“We were excited to be at the forefront of this shopping innovation with our first event in December and want to continue to test and learn to see what’s possible for shopping in the fastest growing community on social media,” White said.”

Walmart’s livestream collaborations with TikTok may be new, but the company has an established relationship with the social media site. Walmart joined TikTok in October 2019 and, when TikTok was threatened with a ban by the Trump administration last summer, Walmart announced it would be investing in the company, unless it sold its US operations to an American company. Walmart has also begun encouraging its staff members to post more content on TikTok while at work, in exchange for monetary rewards.

Walmart invested heavily in shoppable online content throughout 2020, as in-store shopping declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, the company launched a digital toy box, allowing children to “play” with the season’s top toys ahead of the holiday shopping season; earlier, around Halloween, the company debuted an online Halloween Camp program, featuring an interactive game show hosted by Neil Patric Harris. The retailer also recently launched shoppable, interactive cooking videos, starring such luminaries as Jamie Oliver and Sofia Vergara.

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