What Is TikTok Dropshipping? Definition, Ad Types & Approaches

May 29, 2023

What Is TikTok Dropshipping?

TikTok dropshipping is a microtrend of the dropshipping business model. Dropshipping is about jumping on new products or channels to promote items and increase sales. But to make money, you need to go where the right people are hanging out. Data suggests that a TikTok ad can reach 945.2 million users. TikTok dropshipping is a chance to leverage a platform where people are spending money now. 

According to Hootsuite, TikTok was the top app for consumer spending in 2022. Of course, it takes a winning product, stellar copy, or videos with a unique angle and virality potential. But if you can be the better marketer. Or you can offer a product people want to buy, that is hard to find, or solves a problem. Then you can earn a profit with TikTok dropshipping in 2024

What Is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is an order fulfillment business model. You don't need to own products or store inventory. Instead, dropshippers source winning products and rely on wholesale suppliers to handle the back-end process like the packaging, shipping, and delivery of items to the customer. Dropshipping is a low-cost startup because you don't need to spend money on stock. Instead, the customer pays for the product when they place an order.

But because the barrier to entry is so low, dropshipping is super competitive. In 2023, you need a winning product and a unique marketing angle. Copy or video that pop and get people to take action. Then focus on providing the best customer experience. According to Forbes, 96% of people stop buying because of bad customer service. So if you want to make money with this online business model, focus on the customer journey and do better than the competition.

What Is TikTok?

TikTok is a short-form video-sharing app that provides endless content creation. TikTok is the world's sixth most-used social media platform. The app has nearly 834.3 million monthly users and over 656 million downloads a year. TikTok lets users create and share videos and soundtracks. In addition, creators can discover information and products from other users.

Subsequently, the platform continues to increase in popularity. And it's now one of the hottest marketing channels in 2024. eMarketer reports that ad spending on TikTok is up 47% from 2022 and is set to reach $8.75 billion by the end of this year. As a result, it's become an effective channel for a business to expand its reach, increase brand awareness and promote products and services.

What Are TikTok Ad Types?

TikTok Ad types include In Feed Ads, TopView Ads, and the Hashtag Challenge. TikTok is a self-service ad platform where users can create 15-60 second videos that blend well with the platform's feed. Ads can increase brand awareness, encourage engagement and promote trending products or services. TikTok ads cost $10 per CPM with a minimum budget of $500. TikTok ad options include:

In Feed Ads

In Feed Ads are ads found in the native news feed and listed on the 'For You' page. Social Pilot says 33% of potential customers respond better when ads refer to them directly on TikTok.

TopView Ads

TopView Ads grab the attention of TikTok users and are displayed 3 seconds after a person opens the app. These ads are in-feed posts displayed at the top of the 'For You' page. 

Brand Takeover

Brand Takeover Ads allow your message to take over the screen for a few seconds. Then they turn into an In Feed Ad. 

Spark Ads

Spark Ads refer to users sponsoring popular organic content. 

Image Ads

Image Ads are video advertisements shown in TikTok's news feed apps—for example, BuzzVideo or TopBuzz. According to TikTok, vertical ads see a 25% higher watch-through rate.

Video Ads

Video Ads are full-screen videos that range from 5-60 seconds. Users then view these ads in their 'For You' feed.

Pangle Ads

Pangle Ads can be combined with TikTok's native and banner ads.

Carousel Ads

Carousel Ads contain up to 10 images and appear in TikTok's news feed apps. Use pictures that pop or invoke a reaction and get people to stop scrolling and act on your offer. TikTok reports that ads with an emotional element were 50% of the best-running ads on the platform in 2022.

Branded AR Content

Branded AR Content refers to branded effects like stickers, lenses, and other AR content TikTok users can use in their video creatives. TikTok suggests that 46% of TikTok users engage with copy on TikTok without distractions. 

Hashtag Challenge

A Branded Hashtag Challenge is interactive. You can find them in the 'Discovery' section. TrueList suggests that 90% of branded hashtag challenges generate 2.5X ROI on ad spend. So they're ideal for increasing participation. In fact, according to Social Pilot, 35% of TikTok users have participated in a hashtag challenge.

Sponsored Influencer Content

Using Sponsored Influencer Content from TikTok influencers is one of the best ways to drive brand awareness and increase your dropshipping store's engagement. According to Upfluence, TikTok micro-influencers have an engagement rate of 17.96%.

How To Start A TikTok Dropshipping Store

To start a TikTok dropshipping store:

  • Pick your niche and find trending products.
  • Find a reliable supplier and create a Shopify or Wix dropshipping store that looks like a real business.
  • Connect your dropshipping store to the TikTok platform and develop your marketing strategy.

Then follow a few simple steps that include:

1. Find winning dropshipping products to sell on TikTok

To find winning products for TikTok dropshipping that will sell well, start by going to Amazon or AliExpress. Or use spy software like PiPi ads or Simply Trends. Then see what other dropshippers are selling on TikTok. Check out their ad creative and videos: Where are they lacking? How can you do better? Are their ads selling well? Then access the following: 

  • Does this product offer a chance for good creatives?
  • Is this an item with longevity?
  • Is this product still selling well on Facebook or other social media channels?

Go on TikTok. What's hot on the platform right now? Check out social reviews. What products are going viral? Pick a product and order it to your house. Start taking videos using your product. But focus on the benefits, not the features. First, showcase why people need this product.

For example, how does it improve their lives? Will it save them time? Next, decide how you'll market your item. For example, will you run paid ads or connect with an influencer? Then funnel potential customers to your dropshipping store and make sales.

2. Source your dropshipping supplier

A supplier is the most critical component of dropshipping. In 2024, 20-40 day shipping times don't cut it. A survey by Ware2Go suggests that 42% of shoppers expect a 2-day shipping option. So source a dropshipping supplier from places like Zendrop (great for scaling) or SourceInTheBox (you get your dropshipping product faster and cheaper than AliExpress).

But pick one that can offer fast shipping and fair prices. Another option is to use a private supplier. They let you communicate with them directly and get the best quality product. Of course, having a reliable wholesaler is crucial to scale your business. You need more than one supplier. Then you won't have to worry about supply chain issues or running out of inventory. But before picking your wholesaler, check out things like:

  • Customer reviews & platform integrations
  • Return & refund policies
  • Additional fees & costs

Contact suppliers directly by doing a Google or reverse image search on other dropshipping sites. Or take advantage of directories like CJDropshipping, Spocket, or SaleHoo. The dropshipping success rate is 10%-20%. And a bad supplier is one of the main reasons people will fail. So don't be the victim of a fake supplier. Or risk a ton of customer complaints, returns, and negative reviews. Instead, source a reliable supplier and build trusting and professional relationships.

3. Connect your Shopify store to TikTok

To connect your Shopify store to TikTok, find the TikTok app on your Shopify store. Then click the add app to install the TikTok channel. By connecting TikTok to your Shopify store, you gain entry to a host of elements like:

1. TikTok Pixel

The TikTok pixel is code that helps dropshippers track the actions of users on your website and the app after they click your ad and is one of the best ways to monitor ad performance.

2. Video-Generator Tool

The video-generator tool automates ad creation. Pick relevant product images or videos, and the software does all the heavy lifting.

3. TikTok Custom Audiences

TikTok's audience targeting is a chance to
focus your attention on a user's location, personal interests, other brands they interact with, and their behavior on the platform.

4. Campaign Analytics

The campaign analytics tool captures data from the pixel. Leverage this tool to retarget people that have shown an interest in your ads or products. It shows you what ads are doing well and ones that might need tweaking. Then you can get the best ROIs for your ad dollars.

4. Develop a strategy to promote your dropshipping products on TikTok

You need a marketing strategy to promote your product and make sales with TikTok dropshipping. For example, will you use paid ads, organic content, or a combination? Or will you leverage influencer marketing and host TikTok Lives? Consider your TikTok user base. What type of content do they watch on the platform? What content style gets the most engagement, comments, and likes from your target audience? 

Decide your online business strategy, then dial in on your expertise. If you're a copyrighting genius, post content. But if videos are your secret sauce, use video creatives. TikTok users like new content. So leverage current trends in your niche and create organic or paid ads with shock value. TikTok's main focus was short video-sharing.

But in 2024, users want longer videos (up to 10 minutes). So stay one step ahead of trends. And be ready to test and restest to see what works and where you need to pivot. Learn as much as you can about your buyer persona. Then publish the right content to drive online traffic to your Shopify dropshipping store. 

5. Provide the best customer experience possible

Bad customer service is one of the fastest ways for your dropshipping business to fail. HubSpot reports that 88% of customers today have higher expectations than ever. So if you want to make money with TikTok dropshipping in 2024, your business needs to offer the best customer service possible. 

Know your product and know your customers. Respond to customers quickly and be ready to provide solutions when things go wrong. Then listen to your customers. Personalize their shopping experience and become customer-centric with tactics like:

  • Adding their name in correspondence
  • Having content in their native language
  • Geo-locations on your website
  • Adding a thank you card or discount coupon with their order

Self-service is another way to provide people with a better shopping journey. According to Salesforce, 65% of customers prefer self-service for simple matters. So include things like:

  • An FAQ or tutorial section on your website (98% of customers use FAQ, help center, or other self-service online resources)
  • A clear and transparent returns and refunds policy
  • Chatbots offering 24/7 support (chat/live support has increased by 35% in the last 4 years)
  • Well-listed contact information

The better the customer service, the more repeat buyers. Zendesk suggests that 81% of customers say a positive experience with a company makes them more likely to make another purchase. So it's a fast way to increase the lifetime order value of a customer and make more money.

How To Set Up A TikTok Ad Campaign For Your Dropshipping Business

To set up a TikTok campaign for your dropshipping business, decide on your objective. For example, What are the goals of your business? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Or do you want more visits to your TikTok dropshipping store?

According to Business Today, TikTok is the top app for consumer spend. The fastest way to make money on TikTok is to use TikTok advertising. According to Gitnux, TikTok ads have a 9% click-through rate (CTR). Start with a TikTok account and Ad Campaign:

  • First, pick your objective: awareness, consideration, or conversion.
    Next, set your campaign budget in your TikTok Ads Manager account with these steps:
  • Go to create an ad, click Campaign> Create
  • Set up a Campaign Name & Budget: There are two options;
    No Limit: No restrictions on ad delivery
    Daily Budget/Lifetime Budget: The daily spend or total spend of all the ads
  • Create an Ad Group that allows you to select:
    Ad Placements: Automatic or manual
    Ad Details-Promotion Style: App or website
    Display Name: Brand name or app name
    Profile Image: Shown alongside your ad
  • Category: Choose the one best for your promotion
  • Ad Tags: Add up to 20 relevant keywords that mesh with your ideal target market
  • User Comment: Option to have it on or off
  • Video Download: This needs to be on, or viewers won't be able to download your short video ads
  • Target Audiences: Create or omit custom and lookalike audiences. You can also limit your audience based on age, gender, interests, demographics, device, etc.
  • Budgets & Schedules: You need a minimum budget of $20 per day. Then choose between a continuous or timed ad schedule.
  • Goals & Bids: Pick your bidding and optimization opt-ins. These can include third-party tracking tools like BigSpy to track ad performance.

Choose a single ad or multiple ads within each ad group. Then compare the delivery of various ads. Finally, keep what works and tweak or delete advertisements that are not getting results. The goal of your TikTok campaign is to get in front of a ton of eyeballs. Have a great product and a unique marketing angle. Optimize your ads and include the following:

  • Professional images & videos
  • Simple & succinct ad copy
  • Clever use of elements & hashtags
  • A call to action that's clear and invokes a sense of urgency

Tips For Creating A Profitable TikTok Ad Campaign In 2023

To create a profitable TikTok ad campaign, build an audience. Leverage user-generated content that's raw and natural. TikTok users want new copy that's engaging. They don't care if it's perfect. The intent is to capture the attention of your target audience and convert them into customers.

Post a ton of content and focus on how your product solves a problem, saves time, or makes their life easier. Don't worry about the features. Instead, showcase the benefits. Give them a reason why they need to buy it now. Mix up your ad types and content creation. Or experiment with sounds, captions, or videos. Data suggests that TikTok videos with captions can increase impressions by 55.7%. Be a human with a face and be authentic.

Then test, test, and retest. Use a free Chrome extension called Sort for TikTok that filters by the top videos or third-party software like SpyFu or SEMRush. Check out the best competitors and access things like, What's their angle? Where are they lacking? How can you do better? Don't copy their ads. Instead, mimic what they're doing. Then appeal to the masses. The idea is to get more views, increased engagement, and better quality leads for your dropshipping business. 

What Are The Pros & Cons Of TikTok Dropshipping

Pros Of TikTok Dropshipping

A pro of TikTok dropshipping is that the site offers low ad costs compared to other social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. It also has better profit margins than other third-party dropshipping models like Amazon dropshipping or eBay dropshipping. For example, BusinessInsider says TikTok's CPMs are $8 versus Meta's $14. In addition, TikTok suggests that the average TikTok campaign ROAS was 2X the median campaign performance.

Another pro of TikTok dropshipping is the platform's active online market. According to Music Business Worldwide, the average user opens the TikTok app 19 times per day.

One noteworthy pro of TikTok dropshipping is the impressive level of engagement compared to other platforms. Notably, if you use TikTok influencers. Data from SproutSocial suggests that TikTok influencers see an average engagement rate of 15.86%.

Cons of TikTok Dropshipping

A con of TikTok dropshipping is that it's a mobile-only system. So you can only target mobile users either on iOS or Android. Unfortunately, the platform isn't compatible with desktops.

Another con of TikTok dropshipping is that it doesn't provide a ton of customer service or support.

Cons of TikTok dropshipping also include censorship of video clips or a refusal to run ads. TikTok also has a reputation for removing ads without notice and often for no reason.

5 Ways To Create A Profitable TikTok Dropshipping Strategy In 2024

1. Leverage Paid Ads

Paid ads on TikTok are the best way to attract attention to the platform. According to DataReportal, TikTok has an ad reach of roughly 885 million people. The idea is to get people interested in your product. Then your dropshipping Shopify store turns users into actual customers. To create an ad that gets conversions and a ton of likes, comments, and engagement, include a shock factor in your TikTok video creative or ad copy. Your videos don't need to be professional.

In fact, the TikTok platform doesn't respond well to Facebook ad-style ads. Instead, users want new and authentic content that entertains or offers value. So keep your video content short, 10-30 seconds, and use trending sounds. (The sounds you use are the most critical part of your videos). According to Invideo, 80% of top TikTok videos have music and upbeat songs. TikTok users also respond well to voiceovers. Add a soft call to action but don't be too aggressive. Too much, and people think it's an ad and won't take action on your offer.

2. Become An Organic Content Machine

Organic traffic is free. But to get attention, it needs to be user-generated or point-of-view content. Organic copy needs to grab a person's attention in the first 3 seconds. Answer people's questions. For example, share step-by-step tutorials on how to use your product.

Market Cast says that 71% of TikTok users who take action off the platform say that the TikTok channel shows them exactly what they are looking for. Make your video creatives slightly imperfect (make a mistake on purpose) to get comments and engagement. Then your video has a chance to go viral. Other tips for organic content creation include:

  • Stay on top of trends (like winning sounds to get more exposure)
  • Use elements native to the platform (whatever TikTok pushes out, use in your videos)
  • Make sure your text overlays are in the upper half of the video
  • Use comments from people to create new posts
  • Have a similar feel for the video with the sound on or off
  • Keep your captions simple with persuasive language
  • Use hashtags

Become a top-of-mind business. According to TikTok, 73% of users feel a deeper connection to brands after interacting with them on the platform. So be active on TikTok and share value. For example, offer contests and giveaways. 

Or tag people or ask them to follow you. Use duets or stitches in your video. Publish TikTok content that shares your brand, builds engagement, and creates a sense of urgency to get people to take action.

3. Promote A Stellar Product

Promote a stellar product-something that will sell itself. To find hot ticket products to sell on TikTok, do product research on the platform itself and search under hashtags like:

  • #tiktokmademebuyit
  • #amazonfinds
  • #unboxing

Other ways to find the best item to sell include using third-party spy tools like BigSpy or Minea. Start by pulling ads running on TikTok and doing well right now. Then check out other social media channels like Facebook ads or Instagram reels.

Are there products being sold on these platforms that aren't being offered on TikTok? If you can find a product with a WOW factor. Or an item that's doing well on other social network channels, you can earn a solid income from TikTok dropshipping.

The Best Thing To Sell On TikTok

The best thing to sell on TikTok is a product that will catch a user's attention in 3 seconds. Then, it's easy to market. Pick items you can sell for $15-$45 and get a 3X markup. Other considerations include the following:

  • Are these dropshipping products exclusive or unique? For example, they're not easy to find at stores like Walmart or Target.
  • Is it one of the trending products on TikTok right now?
  • Can it be sold to a broad market? Does it appeal to a wide range of people?
  • Is it evergreen?
  • Is this a product with the option to add items frequently bought-together?

TikTok dropshipping is about capitalizing on trends and staying ahead of the curve. Post short videos and ad creatives that put your product center stage and get potential customers to stop their mindless scrolling and check it out.

4. Use Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a cost-effective way to get the attention of a target market. Creator-led elements are easy to produce, but they can generate real results. For example, TikTok influencers are convincing. They can sway users' buying decisions on the platform and can send more traffic to your Shopify dropshipping store. SocialPilot reports that partnering with creators boosts view-through rates by 193%.

Influencer marketing is one of the core advertising strategies and TikTok marketing hacks for dropshippers in 2024. They offer a chance to increase brand awareness, build trust with your business and get more sales. According to TechCrunch, marketers will spend almost 2X more on TikTok influencer marketing by 2024 compared to 2022. Find influencers in your niche that have high rates of engagement. 

Reach out via direct messenger or email. Or find them on platforms like Upfluence or CreatorIQ. Then send them a well-crafted value proposition highlighting why they'd make a good choice for your business. Finally, sweeten the deal with a gift or product so they can try it out. The secret is to get them excited about your offer so they want to work with you.

5. Host Live Streams

Live streams are a great way to share a ton of valuable and engaging content and build a community with your audience. TikTok's rule around live streams is that a user needs 1000 followers to qualify. Dropshippers can circumvent the platform by employing a growth service like SidesMedia or UseViral.

Another option is to get super active in things like TikTok challenges to increase your visibility and grow your online presence. After you qualify, then you can host live streams. But make them engaging and share your personality and brand's core values. According to TikTok, 50% of TikTok users have bought something after watching a TikTok live. To get people to watch your live streams include things like:

  • Respond to comments
  • Use their names
  • Ask for their opinion
  • Be yourself and be authentic and genuine
  • Add value to people's lives
  • Make your viewers part of the stream
  • Show them that they're important and you appreciate them
  • Include a CTA
  • Share your other social media profile links
  • Give incentives or freebies

Live streams are a chance to connect with followers in real time. They also work to develop more personal relationships and get new followers. TikTok Live is an entertaining way to get attention. You'll drive more traffic to your store and make money with TikTok dropshipping in 2024.

How Does TikTok Dropshipping Compare To Local Lead Generation?

TikTok dropshipping is fast-paced. It's about jumping on the latest craze. You need to find the best way to monetize a trending product or an item that invokes impulse buys. Then make as many sales as you can before the market becomes saturated. To make money with TikTok dropshipping, stay one step ahead of the curve and know how to leverage the TikTok algorithm. Then produce killer content and creatives that get TikTok users to take action. 

Consider, however, that it's still easy for another dropshipper to come in and copy your ads. Or even undercut your price and outplay you out of the market. Dropshipping is a low barrier to entry business. So it's super competitive, unlike the local lead generation business model that requires a learned skill set. First, build and rank simple websites in the right location that offer one service. Then, use local SEO tactics to get your site to the top of Google search engines.

Once your lead gen sites start producing leads, you sell them to local business owners for profit margins as high as 85%-90%. You own the website, the tracking number, and the leads. Unlike dropshipping, which relies on third-party suppliers, with local lead generation, you control every aspect of your business. You can build and rank as many sites as you want. Get them to the top, and you get paid every month like clockwork. But then you own a passive income. And that's the number one goal of an online business in 2024

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

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