TikTok Shop: Staying Safe When Buying Online

TikTok Shop: Staying Safe When Buying Online

TikTok has grown in immense popularity since launching in 2018. Since then, the app has changed the way young people and adults use social media through fast-paced videos and the ability to search for and visually explore content from around the world. Since launching, TikTok has become one of the most popular apps over the past few years, creating a new generation of social media influencers which has led towards the implementation of new in-app features and services.

With this in mind, you can find out all you need to know about using TikTok Shop below.

What is TikTok Shop?

TikTok Shop is one of many in-app features on TikTok, allowing users to buy products directly from the TikTok app. TikTok Shop is meant to support ‘brands to authentically connect with creators and communities.’

TikTok Shop uses a variety of TikTok's main entertainment features to help customers find and buy products online. 

Who can use TikTok Shop?

Currently, TikTok Shop is only available in certain countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore, allowing people within those countries to access the Shop function on their app. TikTok states that TikTok Shop UK can be used by ‘anyone, as long as you live in the UK, are over 18 years old and have the TikTok app on your phone.’

How does TikTok Shop work?

TikTok Shop can be found within the TikTok app, and operates just like popular e-commerce websites such as eBay, Etsy, and Amazon, allowing third-party sellers to sell products ranging from tech to food and drink across the TikTok app. TikTok Shop also incorporates the social media app’s features, enabling sellers and influencers to live stream and engage with customers, whilst offering flash sales and exclusive offers.

Unlike eBay and Amazon, TikTok Shop is only meant to be used to sell brand-new products, but individuals can sell hand-made arts and crafts through the Shop too. You’ll find a mixture of individuals and brands selling their items across the TikTok Shop, and in some cases, you can purchase hand-made merchandise directly from your favourite TikTok content creators.

How can I buy through TikTok Shop?

To browse and purchase items on TikTok Shop, you can click ‘Shop’ on the bottom bar of your TikTok App. Once within the Shop, you can use the search bar at the top of the screen to search for whatever you might be interested in buying.

Once you’ve made your search, you’ll be able to browse through top results, products, videos, and users relating to your search, so you can get an idea of what you’re buying and what offers are available to you.

TikTok Shop gives you plenty of opportunities to buy items at a discounted price, however, like with any social media or e-commerce website, it’s important to make sure you remain cautious about your safety and security online.

When should I be careful when using TikTok Shop?

When buying anything online, it’s important to take precautions to help ensure you aren’t being scammed or misled by products or sellers. If you’re making a purchase on TikTok Shop, there are several things you can consider to stay safe and avoid scams:

  1. Never leave the TikTok app. You’ll never be directed outside of the TikTok app when buying a genuine product through TikTok Shop. If you see anything on TikTok that tries to sell you a product off the app, it might not be legitimate, meaning your purchase would not be protected by TikTok’s terms and conditions.
  2. Counterfeit items. Anyone can make a TikTok Shop account, so it can be difficult to identify what is real – and what isn’t – when making purchases online. To help avoid counterfeit items, make sure to check the reviews of the seller, and to question any heavily reduced prices that seem too good to be true.
  3. Faulty items. Like with many online marketplaces, it’s important to ensure that the items you are purchasing are safe to use, particularly when it comes to electrical goods. Online marketplaces aren’t always expected to check the safety of the products sold on their sites – so it’s always best to read reviews and see whether traditional retailers offer similar alternatives.
  4. Messaging sellers. Whilst having the opportunity to message sellers with questions about your purchase can be useful and informative, it’s always important to make sure you don’t reveal too much personal information. If you find that a seller has contacted you inappropriately or in a way you believe is harmful, you should always report the account and messages to TikTok. If you need further support, you can visit Report Harmful Content.

What safety features does TikTok Shop have?

TikTok states that TikTok Shop sellers must submit documentation to verify their identity, business type, and eligibility to operate. Sellers' documents are also reviewed to ensure they comply with regulations.

  1. Returns and refunds. TikTok Shop UK allows buyers to request a refund up to 30-days after the date your item is delivered. You can also return your purchase for free by selecting a ‘drop-off’ return option to receive a pre-paid label from TikTok.

    Remember that some items may not be able to be returned, so make sure to read the terms and conditions before purchasing.
  2. Buyer Protection Program. The TikTok Shop Buyer Protection Program aims to safeguard customers when shopping on TikTok Shop. If you encounter product issues and cannot resolve them directly with the seller, you can file a case with TikTok Customer Service within 90 calendar days from the date the order status is marked as "Delivered."

    You can find out more about how to get help with an order here.
  1. Reporting. If you believe you’ve found an item in TikTok Shop that goes against their policies, you can make a report through the product’s page. Users can report one of several issues that would violate TikTok’s product guidelines and include a description and images detailing their concern.

    To report a suspected scam, you can follow TikTok’s guidance here.

Further Support

It’s always important to stay safe when buying or selling items online, and by following this advice and understanding the protection available, you can make sure your TikTok Shop purchases go as smoothly and safely as possible. For more information about how to stay safe on TikTok, you can download our TikTok Checklist.

For further advice on reporting anything harmful you see online, you can visit Report Harmful Content, which provides information on how to report harmful content across many major social media platforms and websites.

Any Professional working with young people can also use the Professionals Online Safety Helpline. The Helpline provides support for any online safety concern that you or a young person in your care may be having, including a comprehensive guide on making a report to TikTok.

Learn more about TikTok Safety and Privacy

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