TikTok Shop’s Black Friday Sale Is Full of Very Weird Stuff

Snail facial serum with gold flakes for $3.20, a litter box for $2.34, and candles shaped and scented like Starbucks Frappuccinos for $5.63. You might not have it on your holiday wish list, but you can find it on TikTok Shop, which is already discounting hard ahead of Black Friday.

TikTok Shop’s Black Friday deals began in late October. And there’s a bewildering range of products with steep markdowns. You can get 50 percent off beauty products, coupons offering 15, 20, and 25 percent off orders, and 30-percent-off coupons with no minimum spend for first-time shoppers. The app’s 200,000 sellers can also pick items to be discounted on the shop, creating their own markdowns, which can be further subsidized by TikTok’s discounts.

While the Black Friday sales at other major retailers will be awash with big-name brands, on TikTok Shop, it’s a real mix. Larger, established retailers are muddled in with indistinguishable, third-party sellers hawking brand name beauty products and housewares. There are “crunchcups,” or to-go tumblers that hold cereal and milk separately, a tiny wall safe disguised as a light switch, an “anti-anxiety” necklace, and an umbrella for a dog.

These odds and ends all come from sellers looking to break through and make a buck on Black Friday. And they have the chance to win big: Small businesses can see a flood of interest overnight if their products take off. TikTok is attempting to do what other social apps have tried and failed: make a splash in social shopping, just in time for the holiday season.

For smaller sellers, it’s TikTok’s greatest asset—the way it connects people to products—that can be a blessing and a curse. If an item goes viral, it creates unprecedented demand. Paul Jauregui, who cofounded BK Beauty with his wife Lisa, says TikTok Shop’s model perfectly fits with their cosmetics brand: Lisa got her start on YouTube with makeup tutorials, and they’ve relied on social media marketing to find customers.

But BK Beauty’s brushes are doing almost too well. Between TikTok Shop launching and mid-November, the company has sold more than 30,000 brushes. Jauregui says that has nearly tripled their business. “As demand starts to really take off, it has put a lot of pressure on our inventory,” he says. “It’s a good problem to have, but at the end of the day, it’s a problem.” Jauregui says BK Beauty discounted the brushes, but TikTok Shop further subsidizes the prices, leading to those steep markdowns people see. TikTok did not provide a number when asked how much of sellers’ prices it is subsidizing.

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