TikTok head office in United States
TikTok will soon introduce an ecommerce platform to sell Chinese goods to US users. Reuters

TikTok is gearing up to introduce a new retail program in a bid to help Chinese merchants sell their products globally. The platform will officially roll out this program to US-based consumers next month, according to reports from Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.

According to the reports, the widely popular short-form video hosting app will launch an e-commerce platform in the US to sell made-in-China goods. This strategic step could help TikTok compete with other leading shopping platforms.

Will US users buy China-made goods?

Notably, TikTok's program will be similar to Amazon's "Sell by Amazon" program. In other words, TikTok will store and ship goods such as kitchen appliances, electronics, and clothing. An IT Home report cited by the folks at GizChina claims TikTok will ship products on behalf of Chinese brands and sellers.

Moreover, the platform will be in charge of shipping, marketing, as well as after–sales services. Reportedly, TikTok's e-commerce platform will focus on selling Chinese goods to US buyers. So, it is safe to say that users will be able to choose between a wide range of products from China.

According to a Wionews report, users will have access to products ranging from electronics to fashion and more. Furthermore, TikTok will adopt a "full – service model," which involves paying Chinese brands only after finding buyers in the US.

This model allows the company to reduce risks while ensuring there is demand for the products before paying the brands. According to the WSJ report, TikTok will be returning unpopular items to the brands to limit the process. As a result, TikTok will bear the minimum risk if US buyers do not show interest in Chinese goods.

Why is this move critical?

Notably, the US has been sparing no effort to ban TikTok over data security concerns for a while now. However, US users have opposed the possible ban on the Chinese video-sharing application. Some questions about the country's data access laws have also been raised.

Earlier this year, influencer Matt Welland objected to a potential US TikTok ban, claiming a ban on the app would constitute a severe restriction on free speech. Ahead of an impending US ban, TikTok owner ByteDance started working on the Lemon8 app that would reportedly replace TikTok in the country.

Now, by launching an e-commerce platform in the US, TikTok could end up garnering more popularity among its American users. However, this does not guarantee the US government might not ban the app over security issues. The app was also accused of illegally processing children's data earlier this year.

The impact of TikTok selling Chinese goods in the US is still unclear. However, the platform's entry into the US e-commerce market is likely to give consumers more options for buying goods. A Harvard Business Review report suggests Chinese merchants could target TikTok's young demographic.

Drawbacks of TikTok selling Chinese goods in the US

However, the WSJ report has raised concerns about the safety and quality of these Chinese products. Small businesses in the US that do not sell Chinese goods will not be affected by TikTok's foray into the e-commerce space. This is because TikTok will focus specifically on selling Chinese goods.

US businesses that sell Chinese products, on the other hand, will have a new rival. While this will be good for consumers, there are several potential drawbacks of TikTok selling China-made products in the US. First, there is a possibility that the Chinese government could get its hands on the American user data on TikTok.

It is also worth noting that legislators have previously accused TikTok of harming mental health and allowing drug-related content on its platform. The app was also blamed for mass data collection, specifically in the US. Lastly, TikTok is run by Chinese – owned company ByteDance, which has sparked fears about the Chinese government surveying people in other nations.

Ironically, several US-based firms manufacture in China, while others use parts developed in China. So, TikTok's connection with the country isn't something new in the market.