With Facebook set to significantly advance its eCommerce ambitions via its new Facebook and Instagram shops, Google is also looking to ensure it maintains its online shopping stake with a new product showcase platform that aims to tap into the rising popularity of short-form video - with Instagram, specifically, in its sights.
As you can see in the video, Google's new 'Shoploop' app enables people to share their experiences with products via video short video clips.
As per Google:
"The experience on Shoploop is more interactive than just scrolling through images, titles and descriptions on a traditional e-commerce site. All Shoploop videos are shorter than 90 seconds and help you discover new products in an entertaining way, whether you want to try at-home nail stickers, revive your second-day hair or get a concealer that gives full coverage."
The actual format of Shoploop is more akin to Twitter, with users able to scroll through a feed of posts in various categories.
"Once you find a product that interests you, you can either save the product to buy it later or click straight to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase. You can also follow your favorite Shoploop creators and share videos you like with your friends and family."
What's particularly interesting, though, is that Shoploop isn't actually an app, at least not in a traditional sense.
Created by Google's experimental Area 420 team, Shoploop is currently only available via mobile web, by visiting shoploop.app. That means users don't need to download a new app, they can simply log on via their mobile web browser. That could increase usage, as it doesn't require users to seek out a new app, but it may also have some limitations without a defined 'home' for people to tap on to when they're looking to shop.
As noted, the platform is the latest in Google's effort to maximize its own eCommerce potential, which its been ramping up development of in response to increased online shopping engagement during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Back in April, Google made listings in Google Shopping available for free, expanding its pool of products, and building on its updated Google Shopping app that it launched last October. Google has also added a range of new product and services listing options, in both search ads and Google My Business profiles, in order to better promote delivery and sale options, and help businesses maximize eCommerce opportunities.
With Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat all looking to boost their on-platform shopping options, Google remains in a strong position on this front, as it already has access to a comprehensive database of available product listings, and it's still the leader in search, and where many people first turn to get more information.
As such, Google can provide more product comparisons, more price data - Google will likely be able to maintain a hold on a significant share of eCommerce search activity by effectively tapping into the data tools it already has in search.
Then it just needs to ensure it provides engaging options, similar to social apps, that will keep shoppers aligned with it. And while Shopaloop faces an uphill battle to catch up with the engagement levels of these other social apps, it may give Google another way into the market, and another option to broaden its eCommerce offerings.
I don't like its chances, but I do like the concept. It seems like a valuable, helpful option, which could potentially catch on, especially if Google looks to promote it in related search results.
As a vehicle for brand and product promotion, Google says that Shoploop is currently focused on:
"Content creators, publishers and online store owners in the beauty industry in categories such as makeup, skincare, hair and nails. Our goal is to provide them a platform where they can review and recommend products and help others shop directly from their videos."
If you're a content creator or a store owner in any of these product areas, you can apply to become an exclusive Shoploop creator.
You can check out Shoploop on mobile here.