What does Walmart see in TikTok? Millions of young shoppers

FILE - In this July 21, 2020 file photo, a man opens social media app 'TikTok' on his cell phone, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Walmart said Thursday, Aug. 27,  that it's interested in teaming up with Microsoft to buy the U.S. business of TikTok, the popular Chinese video app.  (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed, File)
FILE - In this July 21, 2020 file photo, a man opens social media app 'TikTok' on his cell phone, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Walmart said Thursday, Aug. 27, that it's interested in teaming up with Microsoft to buy the U.S. business of TikTok, the popular Chinese video app. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Walmart may be the world's largest retailer but it has mostly failed in its efforts to break Amazon's online dominance.

Could TikTok, a fast-growing 3-year-old app filled with goofy videos, be the answer?

TikTok's U.S. business appears up for grabs, with the Trump administration trying to force a sale, claiming national-security risks due to its Chinese owner, ByteDance. TikTok denies it is a risk and is suing to stop the administration from a threatened ban.

Others have reportedly emerged, but the only confirmed suitors are Walmart, teaming with tech giant Microsoft.

The big-box retailer has given only a vague rationale for why it would want TikTok, but it appears to boil down to its vast audience of young people.

TikTok's e-commerce business is small today but it says it has 100 million users in the U.S. — incredibly, nearly a third of the country. Many are young, the type of shopper increasingly difficult to reach via traditional media and advertising.

“The future customer of Walmart or Amazon — that’s what TikTok offers,” said Amit Shah, chief strategy officer of VTEX, which creates online marketplaces for brands.

Walmart declined to comment further Friday. TikTok did not respond to questions about its U.S. e-commerce business or online-shopping strategies baked into Douyin, a sister service to TikTok available in China.