Shoppable live streaming has been a massive digital sector in China, estimated to generate $138 billion this year.
Platforms stateside have been attempting to make inroads in the market, namely the Live Nation-backed startup Ntwrk.
With live shows dedicated to selling highly curated apparel, art, and more, Ntwrk bills itself as the Home Shopping Network for Gen Z.
Now the company is tapping into the wellspring of its demo—not to mention aligning itself with what could be a key asset in the shoppable live-streaming space—with its partnership with TikTok.
As part of Ntwrk’s two-day virtual festival Transfer, TikTok will host its first-ever live shoppable show featuring hoodies and T-shirts from streetwear artist and designer Joshua Vides.
TikTok will exclusively host the shoppable live stream for two hours before it’s made available on Ntwrk.
“There’s other folk in Asia that are doing great with that format, but no one has really nailed it here in the States,” says Moksha Fitzgibbons, president of Ntwrk. “We think taking our Ntwrk approach of live daily content with shoppable experiences in them to platforms like TikTok could be a major win for the consumer, also for the talent or the artist that’s involved in creating a product. It’s a whole new engagement and revenue opportunity for them.”
Nick Tran, TikTok’s head of global marketing, had a working relationship with Fitzgibbons and Ntwrk CEO Aaron Levant long before Ntwrk launched two years ago. When Tran joined TikTok back in April, partnering with Ntwrk seemed like a natural fit.
“Everything we do from a partnership level to an activation is really about bringing more value to the community,” Tran says. “So when I look at the way this came about, you have an innovative platform with Ntwrk that’s on the cusp of culture and they have an extensive partnership network with the latest designers. And it’s not to say that TikTok can’t do that on their own. But I do think that when you are able to bring a company up, like a startup like Ntwrk, it brings a little bit more like heart to the story. The way that this came to life was the relationship and this belief that we are serving the same audience, and we wanted to celebrate the community with something exclusive.”
Throughout the Transfer virtual festival, there will be 40 shoppable experiences on Ntwrk’s platform. However, Vides’s apparel is the only one available on both Ntwrk and TikTok.
“This is obviously proof of concept—it’s never been done before,” Fitzgibbons says. “It’s great for us to introduce the Ntwrk platform to TikTok users. In this case with Josh Vides, we’re giving him the biggest audience-engagement revenue opportunity that we can possibly give him with dual screens. That will be something we pursue with various platforms out there. But we have to see how it works.”
The same could be said for the Transfer festival as a whole.
In an interview last year with Fast Company, Levant, who spearheaded the creation of Complex magazine’s annual ComplexCon, explained that although Ntwrk is a digital platform at its core, IRL experiential events were set to be a core part of its strategy: “We’re focusing on events that are a minimum of a week, sometimes as long as 90 days,” he said. “So these have more room to breathe and give us more engagement and more of a timeline, and we think that’s more meaningful.”
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has rerouted many festivals and conferences to the virtual space.
“Aaron and I worked really closely together on building ComplexCon, which was our last business together. And we have a lot of heart for those physical moments,” Fitzgibbons says. “But as one by one they started getting canceled, we thought we could give fans at home, consumers at home, some of that experience that they really thirst for.”
In addition to shoppable moments, the festival will feature panels, DJ sets, and more. Ntwrk expects to pull in 240,000 shoppers and 10 million viewers online.
“Creating these digital virtual tentpole moments is something we’re really gonna lean into as a differentiator for our business to consumers,” Fitzgibbons says. “As more people enter into video commerce—Amazon, Facebook, Instagram—they’re never going to create a culturally relevant festival where over two days there are 40 drops from 40 different artists.”
Unless, of course, they wind up partnering with Ntwrk.