Ecommerce Businesses Get Ready for the TikTok Ban

Edwin Anthony

Founder & Business Strategist

We have come back again to this second wave of Marketing trouble with the news related to the now Popular social media app called TikTok. E-commerce brands have favored this trendy social media app, which allows retailers and brand to push massive awareness to users who use the app. Features like Tiktok Shop and connections to the most popular e-commerce platform, Shopify, have helped e-commerce brands reach exponential heights and sales. After over a decade of helping businesses scale their e-commerce businesses, I’ve never seen something so drastic as such and Im here to explain this to you in plain English. Added to this, it has allowed many influencers and creators to earn affiliate earnings from TikTok and thus provide a great side hustle during these tough economic times. So what’s everyone talking about nowadays with Tiktok, and why is there a mention of Tiktok being banned? Lets go over the legal history to explain further.

Legal Challenges and Court Rulings with Tiktok and the US

As mentioned in Trumps White House Archives, back in August 2020, our former president, Donald Trump, placed an executive order expressing a national security threat due to Tiktoks Parent company, Bytedance (a Chinese tech Company), towards its data collection practices. This move of the president was the initial effort to address the threats from the Chinese company infiltrating the US via mobile devices from the app.

This executive order instantly faced legal complications as TikTok pushed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, saying this move was unconstitutional. This resulted in the Federal courts blocking the enforcement of the executive order. During the Back-and-forth legal battles, the trump administration tried to encourage Bytedance to Divest TikTok’s US involvement over to an American Company. Fast-forward, we learned that US Companies Oracle and Walmart had ambitions of managing US data traffic to better handle safety concerns. However, to provide more clarity, one thing is handling US traffic, and another is the app’s Data storage.

President Biden comes into office and stepped into this matter by overturning Trump’s Executive order to Ban Tiktok and WeChat (the Chinese version of WhatsApp). He wanted to review the software from foreign adversaries in order to point out any concerns associated with TikTok and other Chinese tech companies. This all resulted in simply pushing the efforts allowing Tiktok to continue its operations and collecting data from US users.

Recent Spy activities from China that were published on the news

Do you recall what happened back in 2023 when we detected spy balloons, and the Pentagon concluded this was from China?

According to Reuters, Chinese hacking operations were discovered that impacted critical US infrastructures such as water plants, electric grids, and natural gas pipelines, and the Feds got involved in this investigation.

Round 2 Legal Battles: Tiktok vs the US

Moving forward to March 13th 2024, Congress started the process for the tiktok ban which began with the House of representatives passing the bill addressing this security concern. According to AP News this bill would require Bytedance to divest Tiktok and other applications it owns within six months of the bill being passed.

As of today, this is now sitting in the Senate where Chuch Schemer is leading and stating they are reviewing all of the details, but did not point exactly which direction this will take.

So how does Tiktok Impact Ecommerce?

Remember earlier when I mentioned that TikTok is run by a Chinese tech Company? Well, Chinese governments impose laws on Chinese tech companies that mandate them to allow the Chinese government access to their data. This means that if TikTok is on your phone, and you give TikTok permission to access your camera and microphone, TikTok collects this data, which is then run by Bytedance. The Chinese government has the power to access the data collected by your microphone and phone. If Tiktok is on Shopify, and Tiktok adds its Pixel on your Shopify store in order to properly run Tiktok ads, then Tiktok has information towards consumer behavior. This part is normal, as Facebook and Instagram does the same thing. The problem is that Bytedance, by law, has to give the Chinese government access to all of this data. This means the Chinese government can see everything related to your store and consumer behavior.

After helping many e-commerce retailers online with our Digital marketing services, I’ve seen my share of companies whos 70% of all traffic comes from Social media, specifically Tiktok. The biggest mistake of course is to assume that back when Trump was in office, since Tiktok was attacked and nothing happened, merchants might feel like this isn’t a concern, as it happened before and nothing is going to happen. However this time, things reached to the house of representatives and now its in the Senates seat. According to the Washing Post, President Biden stated that if this bill touches his desk, he will immediately sign it. So its very important for many e-commerce brands to take notice and understand clearly how this app affects their business. Here are some examples on how it impacts e-commerce businesses.

Privacy Policy concerns and conflicts

Many e-commerce merchants have the template privacy policy that Shopify provides in place. This doesn’t cover you at a 100% level since its just a template. You’d be very surprised how many e-commerce stores just use that template without considering the impact it can have on the business. Customers can simply run a check using a website such as and add your website to the search, and if it shows it has a Tiktok connection, customers can immediately assume their data is being sent to the Chinese government, which in turn can lower the trust value to the brand.

The Risk of Intellectual Property Theft

If you have a Tiktok pixel on your e-commerce store, Tiktok can see what products sell the most and instantly create a competitor knockoff and start selling it for super cheap towards its userbase. They have done this numerous times with Apple products such as the knockoff of the Apple watch.

How can Ecommerce brands prep for the Tiktok ban?

As of this post, e-commerce are still ahead of the game since the Senate will take time to review all of the bills details and evidence prior towards passing it to the President. Here are some pointers for prepping now:

Diversify your Social Media Presence

  • Instagram: One can argue that just because Tiktok is involved in this issue, that doesn’t make other platforms any better. But its important to take notice of your customers data privacy and their user experience when shopping on your website. We encourage, if you haven’t already, start a Instagram account for the business and start posting Reels and Stories. Back in the days it used to be all about posting pictures, but Tiktok has shown us that consumers want to see short video content. Instagram has this ability with its Reels abilities. Reels is also a vertical video short form content similar to Tiktok but with a limited time frame. With Tiktok you can post videos that are up to 10 minutes long. Instagram as of today’s date of this blog, the limit is about 2 minutes unless you record a live which can push the barriers to a much longer form of content.
  • Facebook Group Page: People sleep in this secret gem super hard. Think about this for a second. Lets say you own a Womens Fashion brand that sells clothing. If your business creates a Facebook group that centers around Moms who love Fashion, and everyone in there is all about sharing images and videos on nice clothing, you, the admin can add some advertisements without spending a dime and all of your audience lives inside this group.
  • Facebook Live: Another sleeping Gem. Remember the days of HVC where you see people showcasing what they are selling almost in the format of an auction? You can build an audience in Facebook such as a Facebook Group and let the world know you go live ever Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm. During this live session, you showcase your products to your audience as an exclusive offer. Then you have a moderator on the chat creating invoices using Shopify and the orders will just pour in. I personally know 5 brands who do this that earn over $1.3 Million a year in revenue. The best part, Zero Ad spend.
  • Pinterest Product images into boards: Inside Shopify you have your product images. You can create a Pinterest account and add pin your products into the pinterest board. Add the hashtags and people who search for those tags get to see your products.
  • Snapchat: Depending if you have an audience demographic that are tin the younger category such as the 18 to 22, this platform serves best to post content and run advertisements.
  • Youtube: Its a Google company and they too have a feature called Shorts. You can chop up Tiktok content and upload them to Youtube shorts where it gets exposed to so many people in the US. Added to this you can also join the youtube creator program and gain additional revenue based on your audience watch time.

Other Alternatives for Digital Marketing to make the shift easier

Dont forget, social media is the top of your e-commerce sales funnel. Aside from Social media, you can perform other Marketing tactics that can help compensate the traffic of potential Tiktok ban. Here are some you should have in your arsenal:

  • SEO (Also know as Search Engine Optimization) – This has to do with how your business shows up on the Google searches. Make sure you’re performing the best business practice so your business shows up on page 1 in Google. Remember when people search for what you sell on Google, they are in the market to buy. But if your business is showing up on page 2 for the top key items you sell, that’s a huge missed opportunity.
  • Google Shopping – This falls into the world of Pay Per Click. Similar to running ads on Facebook. But this time when people search, rather than seeing a bunch link websites, these are images of your products in a form of a carousel. Consumers become drawn to this type of shopping as its more visual.
  • Google Adwords – This is similar to Google Shopping but it has more to do with the appearance of page 1 again similar to SEO. The difference is that with SEO it does take time to build that reputation of being placed at the top of page 1. Google adwords however allows you to pay for that placement in the form of an auction. This means you bid for that placement position and for each click you get charged an amount of dollar.

Final words

The biggest key takeaway from this is that its still early, but you need to start immediately as many of these components take time to build and have traffic come into the store. Perhaps many of these things might feel intimidating as some apps require that learning curve or time and patience where many business owners just don’t have that time to spare. In such events, don’t hesitate to reach out to us so we can help build your presence online and ensure that the Tiktok ban doesn’t hurt your business.

Edwin Anthony

Founder & Business Strategist

Presently, Edwin is the Founder and Lead Design and Development Director of Rezolutions Design, a full-service digital agency based on Aventura Florida which works with fortune 500 companies.

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