The battle of ecommerce combined with social media begins. TikTok and shopify have announced quite a few partnerships in recent months starting with how advertisers would be able to link their Shopify and TikTok accounts, and now a full blown partnership with Shopify linking directly into TikTok accounts with easy access to online storefronts built using Shopify.

Meanwhile in the background Facebook has been busy setting up their ecommerce platform. Shopping ads were made available on Facebook and Instagram some time ago, however users were still redirected to external landing pages in order to complete their orders. More recently facebook have been encouraging people to upload their preferred payment methods onto the platform so that they are stored for quick purchases later.

Facebook Shop

On top of that Facebook have launched Facebook have launched Facebook shops where vendors can upload their itinerary in Instagram and accept payments within Facebook. Its not quite clear how this would work for smaller businesses who would need to manage multiple inventories, and how they would transfer data from their preferred platforms including BigCommerce and Woocommerce. TikTok and Shopify have this potential issue taken care of as all inventory would be managed in Shopify and displayed correctly on Shopify.

Both ventures have their upsides and downsides. The TikTok & shopify partnership seems to lock Shopify completely out of a deal with Facebook. Facebook appear to be going it alone and not forming any partnerships with ecommerce Saas providers which will be interesting to see how that plays out. Facebook have already been burnt with their spectacular failure to launch a crypto currency called Libra, so it remains to be seen if they can succeed in launching themselves as an ecommerce company. From personal experience their interface in Instagram is not at par with Shopify.

Security issues with payments

The other challenge that is being faced is the security of payments, it’s a bigger issue with payment providers like Stripe , Apple Pay and GPay. The security issue revolves around the processing of payments within ‘native app browsers’ which are not seen as secure. For example when you click on an ad on Facebook and are directed to a checkout on a web store you may only see payment options of PayPal, ShopApp (which is a shopify payment solution), and Credit card.

Payment solutions like Apple Pay and Gpay are blocked in these native environments as they require the secure set up of a standard browser, think Safari and Chrome. Other payment solutions work around this issue by deep linking to an app or requesting a new log in (Paypal requests a log in, whereas iDeal in the UK sends the user to their banking app).

Facebook will be taking care of the payment issue by asking users to upload their credit card details into the platform, but then vendors will HAVE to sell using Facebook Shop. Shopify does not even allow Gpay and Apple pay in native browsers, relying on their own ShopApp and providers like PayPal.

Future Fight

It’s pretty clear Facebook and Instagram want to morph into an ecommerce platform and take care of product inventory and payment. The Shopify and TikTok partnership could end up being very significant and Shopify will be sure to push their own payment solutions for faster checkout.

Shopping on mobile may be getting more and more popular, however it may not getting easier for vendors to manage inventory on multiple platforms and customers need to be prepared to pay in different ways depending on where they shop.