PROCUREMENT

Has Flip Cracked Social Commerce In The US?

Nov 14, 2023

Social Commerce

Has Flip Cracked Social Commerce In The US?

While TikTok Shop is still warming up in the US, another app is charging ahead in the social commerce game: Flip. 

Flip is a social commerce platform that allows users to both post reviews of, and purchase products all in one place. It has become a growing success with US audiences, who enjoy its user-focused format and lack of brand emphasis. 

However, its success has made many critics stop and stare. Social commerce in the US is notoriously difficult for social platforms to crack. TikTok Shop, though successful in other markets it operates in, has struggled to gain traction with US users. 

This is due to US audiences having an implicit lack of trust against social commerce platforms as a whole, as well as many apps being overrun with scams and complicated interfaces. 

So, how has Flip managed to defeat all odds and gain success in the US market? Is there hope for other platforms attempting social commerce in the US now that Flip has paved the way? 

Let’s get into it. 

What is Flip? 

At its most basic, Flip is a review based shopping app. Users are able to share video reviews of beauty products, encouraging or deterring other shoppers from buying the same product. Shoppers are then able to purchase products directly from reviews, with same day shipping and returns available. 

Ultimately, Flip seeks to stand out from the competition by being a user driven, social commerce app. Brands are barred from interacting with creators in any shape or form, and whilst some popular influencers such as Adison Rae have been spotted on the app, its heart is everyday people reviewing their holy grail products. 

In order to entice users to engage, Flip rewards creators with up to 30% off their purchases if they vote on reviews. 

To keep things nice and honest, products can only be reviewed by Flip users who bought the item in app. On top of this, only established brands are allowed to sell on the app; thus addressing the issue of dupes and scams that many users have found on TikTok Shop. 

So far, Flip is proving to be a raging success. The app saw 600% transaction growth on top of 500% user growth in 2022 alone. In the app store, the platform has received a 4.7 rating from 42,855 reviews. 

But what does Flip have that is making it such a big hit? 

@shanmy_c

All of my creator friends had been hopping onto @Flip Shop ??️ so I’ve tested it out and here are the results! #flipshop #ugccreator #ugctips #passiveincome #sidehustletip #ugccommunity #shoppingapp #cashinwithflip #flipapp #flipappreview #earnpassiveincome #ugcbrands

♬ original sound – Amy Shan | UGC Creator

Why Is Flip Succeeding at Social Commerce In the US?

Flip has built its entire persona around providing brutally honest, genuine reviews. The app has made a point of putting in place policies to protect users from scams, and maintain a free and honest environment. 

By having these policies out in the open, and gearing the entire platform towards shoppers’ needs instead of brands, Flip encourages trust from its users. This confidence, albeit incredibly difficult to establish, is the key to successful social commerce in the US. 

Real, authentic customer reviews are one of the most powerful word of mouth marketing strategies out there. Consumers trust genuine opinions, so a glowing review can make all the difference.

It is this trust that TikTok Shop has failed to inspire in Western audiences. 

A key piece of this puzzle is that Flip is entirely US based and owned. This inspires an innate trust from US audiences. In contrast, the same users are wary of TikTok Shop, due to its ties to China that they believe make it less reliable. 

Why has TikTok struggled? 

TikTok Shop’s struggle to gain traction in the US can ultimately be boiled down to the platform’s failure to establish faith. 

TikTok Shop has proved incredibly successful in Eastern markets, as these users are used to the concept of QVC live stream selling, as well as commerce on social media in general. Conversely, Western audiences do not have this implicit trust in platforms such as TikTok to not simply take their money and run. 

Hence, TikTok Shop proved an incredibly hard sell in the US. Users were weary about purchasing on the app due to its unfamiliar format, and this discomfort was propelled by TikTok potentially getting banned in the United States. On top of this, TikTok Shop quickly became flooded with hundreds of repeats of the same product at varying price points. This created a belief in consumers that all products on the platform were scams or fakes. 

Beyond a failure to comfort audiences, TikTok Shop’s struggle is also driven by its poor business model. Brands must offer commissions to sellers in order to encourage them to sell, as well as offer up big discounts to incentivise consumers to purchase in the moment. As such, to make it worth it for brands, they must sell incredibly large volumes of product; many brands were reluctant to invest in  the platform as a result. 

social commerce in the US

The Future of Social Commerce in the US

In spite of TikTok Shop’s failure to take off in the US, social commerce as an industry is here to stay. The line between shopping and social media gets blurrier day by day, with more and more major platforms introducing shopping to their services, and users largely responding positively. In fact, more than half of social media users in the Gen Z demographic have bought products off of social media, and it is expected that they will account for more than 60% of global social commerce by 2025. 

Yet, the industry is hugely stunted by a severe lack of trust in social media platforms. It has been found that 47% of US adults would not purchase off of social media. Most users continue to prefer to purchase from shops directly, rather than through third party platforms; social commerce in the US is still largely associated with shaky inventory, suspicious return policies and out-of-date store fronts. 

So, what do platforms aiming to crack into social commerce in the US have to do? 

Most simply, inspire trust in audiences. 

@urfavemillennial

Has anyone tried @Flip Shop ?! #flip #flipshop #socialmediastrategy #tiktokstrategy #socialmediamarketing #flipapp #microinfluencers #microinfluencertips

♬ original sound – Madison Taylor

At present, consumers very much believe social media recommendations, but haven’t yet come around to in app purchases. Bridging this gap will take apps improving their policies surrounding sellers, scams, data security and general interfaces. 

Taking a note out of Flip’s book, platforms should seek to put the shopper at the heart of their service—rather than brands and influencers. If apps are able to make their checkout and shopping experiences both easy and trustworthy, then that may hack social commerce in the US. 

It seems if any platform were to succeed in social commerce in the US market, it would be TikTok. It already has a dedicated audience, and a wide reach. Yet to reach the same success that Flip is currently seeing, and that itself has achieved with Eastern audiences, TikTok Shop will have to face an uphill battle. One against changing consumer buying habits, scepticism of social commerce in the US, and a lack of interest in live stream shopping. 

Yet, it is a battle worth waging. There is a huge potential for social commerce in the US, as seen by Flip. It just simply has to be done right. 

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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@ Socially Powerful

Author

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Ella Proctor

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