Using ethnographic research to understand the UK eCommerce market


eCommerce and Social media


Ethnographic research UX research

Project snapshot

TikTok Shop is an eCommerce platform powered by TikTok’s unique content discovery system. TikTok China wanted to understand the UK market through ethnographic research. We uncovered insights to help the social media giant develop its eCommerce offering. 

Uncovering purchase decision processes, attitudes towards the platform, and mobile shopping behaviour helped drive the social media companies' UK strategy

Creating community-driven shopping experiences

TikTok Shop is an eCommerce platform powered by TikTok’s unique content discovery system. Videos and live streams aim to help sellers showcase and sell their products, creating a community-driven, modern shopping experience.

Strategy built on research

Following a successful launch in China, TikTok Shop was looking to improve performance in European markets by gaining a better understanding of shoppers in the UK. The UX Agency proposed ethnographic research as the best route to understanding mobile shopping habits.

Prioritising ethnographic research, even during a pandemic

It was important to the client to have in-person ethnographic research to observe first-hand how users interact with technology in daily life. However, the pandemic added a challenge for face-to-face research, but as restrictions lifted The UX Agency met with four people, two in London and two in Manchester. We found that having both parties take a lateral flow test together was important in establishing trust, and helping the interviewee feel comfortable. Ethnographic research helped TikTok discover the purchase decision processes, attitudes towards TikTok Shop and short-form videos, and insight into mobile shopping behaviour, within a natural setting.

Actionable insights

Ethnographic research gave our client contextual insight into users' everyday mobile shopping behaviour and the end-to-end process from purchase and post-purchase to unboxing and returns. Data gathered in the study was analysed and actionable insights were provided to the TikTok team to improve the performance of TikTok Shop in the UK

  • News

    User Experience is a team sport

    Tim Houghton
    UX/UI Designer

  • Case Study

    Reinforcing the internal UX teams

    Working as one team to gain deeper insights into the end-to-end customer experience

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