Like much of the retail world, Levi Strauss & Co. has closed its physical stores due to the coronavirus pandemic. But it appears to be looking to online platforms like social video company TikTok as a lifeline.
The iconic denim brand said Monday that it’s one of a few early partners for the short video platform’s Shop Now program.
“The retail industry is facing a truly unprecedented moment — stores across the world, including our own, are closed in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19,” the company said on its blog. “And while most of our physical doors aren’t open today, the Levi’s brand continues to find new ways to grow its digital business and connect with fans across all types of platforms, mediums and technologies.”
Operating under a beta test since November, TikTok’s Shop Now allows brands like Levi’s and others to team up with creators to feature products in videos and link to e-commerce pages from posts and videos.
The jeans company seems optimistic about the initiative, thanks to some previous experience. It just wrapped a “Future Finish” activation with influencers, who created their own custom, laser-etched denim looks, and promoted and linked the styles to their followers through TikTok posts. Users merely had to click through to buy them on the brand’s web site.
The results looked encouraging. Since the activation’s launch in December, Levi’s tracked that product views more than doubled for every product included in the experience, and watch time for the videos were twice as long as the platform average on TikTok.
“TikTok was the perfect platform for us to expand our efforts in social commerce,” said Brady Stewart, managing director of U.S. direct to consumer at Levi’s, who noted the company’s push to expand its digital footprint.
“As consumer behavior shifts over the coming months and people explore different online channels for shopping and engaging with brands, we are here to connect with consumers, wherever they are,” she added.
Under normal circumstances, TikTok’s estimated 800 million global users might have amounted to a firehose for jeans shopping. In recent times, the potential of such massive audiences has driven peers — including Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest — to light up their own social commerce development. Notably, Levi’s invests in social commerce across that field as well.
But the TikTok program is operating under anything but normal circumstances.
For e-commerce, the coronavirus crisis has become a major wild card, depending on the sector.
While much of the world is still homebound and unquestionably turning to online shopping — some for the first time — the pandemic’s effects has varied greatly from sector to sector. Wellness and home goods have surged, but the crisis has halved clothing store sales, with a catastrophic decline of more than 50 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The early results from Levi’s Future Finish effort looks encouraging, at least as a measured sign of interest. Whether that translates into much-needed sales remains to be seen. But surely, fashion will be keeping a sharp eye on tools like this.
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