LTK’s Ulrich on How Payments and AI Turn Creators Into Shoppable Stores

Creators wield significant influence in commerce — when they recommend products, they inspire and shape their followers’ choices. But the journey from inspiration to purchase is often encumbered by multiple steps like social media scrolling, product searching, link hunting, and price comparisons. This can discourage buyers into abandoning shopping carts. LTK aims to bridge this gap, offering a transformative solution for an enhanced shopping experience. 

“Our platform is completely built for all of the creators that we have on it. In fact, one of the reasons that I love — and we love — being at LTK is that we are all here at this company to help our creators make the most money possible,” Kit Ulrich, general manager of creator shopping at LTK, told PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster. 

To do that, LTK plays a role similar to Shopify but for creators, offering a platform for them to establish their personalized storefronts featuring carefully curated products from various brands. Additionally, it now provides a universal shopping cart, LTK Cart, streamlining the shopping process for their followers by removing the need to navigate to each retailer or brand’s product page for checkout. 

Furthermore, LTK facilitates the connection between brands of all sizes and categories and influencers with significant audiences, enabling the promotion and sale of products through various marketplaces. In essence, in a digital world filled with endless content and scrolling, LTK empowers the creators people admire and follow, allowing them to be shoppable destinations akin to any other eCommerce site. 

This feature enhances creators’ earnings, affords them more control over their brand and shopping experience, and enhances conversion rates. It also aligns with shoppers’ preference for a seamless, uninterrupted shopping experience alongside their favorite influencers, which contrasts with shifts we’ve observed on social media platforms like Instagram

Where consumers can find the LTK Cart experience today 

Ulrich said LTK has extended Cart to a handpicked collection of brands and is continually bringing in new brands on a weekly basis. 

However, Ulrich noted that while certain brands are enthusiastic about utilizing creators as distribution channels and are eager to embrace this technology, others may lack the essential infrastructure for seamless integration. As a result, widespread adoption is expected to be a gradual journey. Nonetheless, the positive response from both brands and creators underscores the promising potential of this approach. 

Why LTK cart  

“We’re seeing shoppers come direct to our creators,” said Ulrich. 

This transformation is rooted in building trust and fostering relationships between creators and their audience. Ulrich underscores that, among the platform’s top creators, over 50% of their visitors directly result from shoppers who have established a strong connection with them. 

This trend offers a significant advantage to creators, especially as the holiday season approaches. With LTK, shoppers can rely on their favorite influencers to simplify their shopping experience and make direct purchases from their platforms. 

How LTK generates traffic directly in the app 

Ulrich noted that shopper-focused features — product reviews, comprehensive product information including fit and sizing details, and a price drop alert system for saved items — build trust and drive commerce.  

“When a shopper saves an item, we have a price drop alert. So, if you’re not ready to buy now, we are hunting for that sale on behalf of our creators to bring someone back in when the sale goes,” said Ulrich. 

Support for creators is crucial: Ulrich shared that more than 750 million distinct triggers and notifications have been dispatched, all with the purpose of directing shoppers back to the creators’ stores within the app. 

How creators generate their own traffic and loyalty  

According to Ulrich, many of the creators on the LTK platform are highly skilled entrepreneurs who have developed inventive approaches to strengthen their rapport with their followers. 

One key example: strategically unveiling products to their most loyal community first, knowing certain sizes may sell out rapidly. This creates a sense of exclusivity and encourages their most dedicated followers to make purchases promptly.  

How partnerships are established 

“Historically it was a lot more brands scanning influencers,” said Ulrich, noting that today, it’s more of a two-way interaction between brands and creators. 

The conventional model typically emphasized factors such as the influencer’s reach and engagement on diverse platforms, predominantly on social media. Brands assessed whether the content produced by a particular influencer matched their brand’s aesthetic and tone. 

However, the landscape has evolved with the emergence of marketplaces, enabling creators to proactively propose their ideas and content to brands. This shift plays a vital role in generating high-quality, authentic content. Creators can now move beyond mere product promotion and engage in storytelling, adding an authentic layer that resonates with their audience. 

Ulrich sees this shifts as the potential to democratize the promotion of diverse brands. It also aligns with the broader trend of direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, which have thrived in the last decade through online platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. 

“Creators are becoming this new distribution channel that can do that very authentically,” said Ulrich.