TikTok takes a visual route—will it unleash sales potential for brands?

Published: June 14, 2023

min read

With online shopping offering people various flexibilities, people’s love for it is only growing. In the meantime, social media started to play a crucial role in helping people discover new products, share and receive reviews about different brands and products, and, in general, make purchasing decisions. As a result, social media platforms are increasingly inclined to incorporate commerce features into their apps.

Particularly, even though facing an uncertain situation in the western market, TikTok stands out for its determination to continue capturing the attention of audiences and marketers by introducing new features and tools.

As its latest initiative, TikTok introduced a visual product search option on its platform. Using this, TikTok users can take a picture of the product and then find equivalent matches in TikTok Shop listings. The new feature is now being trialled in a few markets outside of the United States.

TikTok's live-stream commerce has grown enormously, accounting for a sizable portion of the app's revenue in China. It is currently experiencing positive signs of in-app shopping growth in other Asian markets as well.

TikTok sees this as a significant opportunity, but it also wants to break into the US and EU markets in order to increase revenue share potential and broaden its application in these markets.

Meanwhile, as almost every social app has discovered, Western users are just not as willing to embrace live-stream and in-stream buying options, owing to concerns about security, reliability, and the basic swapping of IRL experiences.

Besides, it is also noted that visual search tools are available on Pinterest, Google, and Bing, and Meta started experimenting with visual search on Instagram Shop in June 2021.

What does TikTok’s visual search feature mean for brands?

With the evolution of new technologies, the way people search for information online is transforming. Long gone were the days when users had text-based search as their only option.

And now, from visual search to voice search, technology is changing the way people interact with the world. On the other side, people are very receptive to trying out new advancements and tools hitting the market. ChatGPT’s phenomenal reach—1 million users within 5 days of launch—is a big example of this.

In that regard, we believe TikTok’s new visual search feature can possibly be welcoming for users. Although this is not anything new to the market, being available on the powerful and most preferred platform of Generation Z, TikTok, makes a difference. And in our opinion, the combined weight will probably push the technology's use to take hold very swiftly.

And for businesses, especially e-commerce, it can provide amazing benefits.

It enhances product discovery on TikTok:

Ideally, the visual search feature paves the way for brands to increase the chances of users finding their products. For instance, let’s presume Person A discovers a product on TikTok or elsewhere and wants to buy it. But since it doesn’t fit in his affordable price range, he could not buy it. Brand X, on the other hand, presumably has the same type of product in his price range.

And now that the new visual search feature is simple, instant, and easy to use, it is more likely to bridge person A and brand X. In this regard, we believe the new feature of TikTok can positively influence brands’ product discovery and engagement.

It can provide data-driven insights:

Marketers will be able to gain meaningful insights into consumer interests and behaviours by analysing the visual search data. This way, they can assess what kinds of products are trendy, which designs work well with their target audience, and so on. Consequently, they can use the data to optimize marketing approaches, tweak campaigns, and personalize their offerings as per consumer demands.

It can help brands provide seamless customer experiences:

Typically, the visual search feature makes it easier for users to find the products they are looking for. That is, they do not have to wade through hundreds of search engine results to find the desired product. Thus, by making use of this feature, brands can provide a seamless shopping experience to users and reduce customer friction. This, in turn, can possibly improve brand conversions.

Overall, it is apparent from TikTok’s recent moves that the company is leaving no stone unturned to hold tight to the brands’ trust and audiences love. And, in our opinion, TikTok’s new visual search feature adds more value to brands and can help them significantly gain traction with their audiences.



Jasmine Jackson

Jasmine is a social media maven with a talent for building engaged communities. She's a natural storyteller and has a way of making complex ideas accessible to everyone. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and exploring new cuisines.


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