Home Advice & How-ToSafety Is TikTok Shop Safe? What to Know When Shopping on Social Media
Home Advice & How-ToSafety Is TikTok Shop Safe? What to Know When Shopping on Social Media

Is TikTok Shop Safe? What to Know When Shopping on Social Media

by Cyrus Grant

Since its launch, TikTok has evolved from a dance app for kids to a cultural mover and shaker with over one billion active users worldwide.  So, what was the next step for the new king of media?  An online shopping feature.  

Upon first glance, it seems like a pretty random feature for TikTok to add — like if Netflix started selling shirts and home goods between episodes.  But, with the way social media has moved towards influencers and sponsored content, it actually makes sense for those creators to be able to sell goods to potential customers directly within TikTok. 

Here we’ll be diving into what exactly the TikTok shop is, how safe/legit it is, and how it all works.  Let’s get into it!

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What is TikTok Shop?

TikTok Shop is an e-commerce platform built into the TikTok app that allows businesses and users to sell products directly in the app.  That means people can sell an item directly from a video or in TikTok’s dedicated shopping tab.  It’s like if Etsy, Amazon, and AliExpress merged into one online shop and were then integrated into the TikTok app.  Again, it feels a bit dystopian, but not a shock considering the way social media has gone towards directly targeting users as customers rather than simply as viewers.  It is pretty convenient, that much is hard to deny.

To sum it up, TikTok Shop is essentially just an integrated e-commerce platform that lets everyone from small vendors to big businesses sell goods directly to TikTok users via the TikTok app.

Is TikTok Shop Legit?

If you’re wondering whether or not the TikTok shop is legit, the answer is yes…mostly.  TikTok shop is legit, in that you can go on TikTok, order whatever item it is you want, and it will show up at your door.  There are plenty of big brands that sell products directly through TikTok, and as long as you make sure you’re actually ordering through the brand, you should receive a legitimate product from that company.  

Where it gets hazy is with the smaller Etsy-like shops.  While these shops do in fact send you the items you intended to purchase, the backstory and wording around the products can potentially be misleading.  There is no shortage of shops that are just dropshipping items, typically of lower quality (similar to Wish.com), while pretending to be small businesses that sell unique or even handmade goods.  That’s not to say those small businesses don’t exist on the platform, it just takes a little extra legwork from the shopper to ensure they are informed buyers.

Is TikTok Shop Safe?

Piggy-backing off whether or not TikTok Shop is legit, TikTok shop is generally safe.  Shopping directly through the app is typically a smooth and worry-free experience, but as with any online marketplace, some scammers try to sneak in.  Below we’ll cover the best practices you can implement when shopping on TikTok to avoid being scammed.

tiktok app interface
Unsplash

How to Shop Safely on TikTok

While TikTok Shop is safe for the most part, following these tips will help ensure you have a safe shopping experience.

Research the Seller  

Because TikTop shop is open to large and small businesses alike, it leaves room for scammers to open a shop under the guise of being a small business.  The first thing you’ll want to do before hitting order is make sure the business is who they claim they are. 

For well-known brands:  If you’re shopping from a well-established brand, first click on the TikTok profile and make sure it matches the verified profile (there should be a verified checkmark badge), rather than a knockoff page masquerading as a legitimate business.  

For smaller brands:  If you’re thinking about ordering from a smaller business that sells unique goods, the first thing you’ll want to do is look up the item you’re thinking about buying.  Many drop shippers pretend to be small businesses, so if you look up a supposedly unique item, and multiple listings pop up on Google under different sellers, odds are the item is actually a cheap drop-shipped product.  Next, you’ll want to make sure the person you’re ordering from is in fact the legitimate seller.  Some scammers will even duplicate small shops, in the hopes that they can either sell cheap knockoffs of the actual seller’s items, or simply offer fake sales to scam you out of your money (luckily TikTok shop does have some safety measures in place for that).

Look at the Reviews 

First, if there are little to no reviews, be alert.  While every business does have to start somewhere, zero-review accounts are also where many scammers lurk.  Next, take a moment to actually read the comments and reviews.  People who have actually ordered the item(s) will be your best gauge as to the legitimacy of the product.  Keep in mind if every comment is essentially the same generic review, scammers can easily buy a hoard of bots to leave fake reviews.  It’s not terribly hard to tell when every single review is nearly word-for-word identical.

Look for Verified Sellers 

If you’re shopping directly from a brand account, they’ll have a check mark to denote they are the real deal.  Second-hand sellers can also become verified as well, so if you spot a deal from another seller that is verified, you should still be good to go.  The age-old adage still applies though, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Pay Attention to the Return Policy 

TikTok offers a 30-day return policy from the date an item is delivered.  Any seller that attempts to work around this policy is almost certainly not legit and should be avoided.

Practice Good Buying Habits 

At the end of the day, it’s on us to practice good buying habits.  This means using common sense when things seem too good to be true and noticing red flags (and not ignoring them just because we really want something).

Pay With a Credit Card

If you’re shopping online (or really shopping anywhere), you should be using a credit card.  Not only is it much easier to dispute fraudulent charges, but the damage that can be done compared to a debit card is much smaller.

person holding phone loading tiktok app to use tiktok shop
Unsplash

Final Tips for Using the TikTok Shop

If you follow the information above, odds are you’ll have a perfectly fine experience while shopping on TikTok.  It’s always good to be vigilant when shopping online, and that holds true when shopping on your favorite doom-scrolling entertainment app.  While verifying large brand sellers is pretty easy, shopping those small individual-run shops can sometimes feel like a gamble.  If you’re feeling unsure about whether or not the person is presenting themselves honestly, do some digging online to back up what they’re claiming.  Google, other social media, and even a people search tool like Spokeo can provide you with the information you need to shop confidently.  

Now, go get your shop on!

Cyrus Grant is a writer from Southern California with a background in law and dispute resolution. When he isn’t writing he can be found deep-diving into the latest technology trends or simply spending time at the beach.

Sources

Better Business Bureau  – BBB Tip: Be alert when shopping on TikTok

Link My Books – TikTok Shop Returns, Refunds, and Cancellations Explained

Backlinko – TikTok Statistics You Need to Know