Google R&D Lab Jumps Into Mobile Video Shopping

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Google has its sights fixed on upending social video shopping through a research project called Shoploop.

The tech giant describes Shoploop as a new mobile web platform for “discovering, evaluating and buying products, all in one place,” according to its blog.

The platform is built to entertain and entice consumers quickly using short videos of less than 90 seconds, with clips coming from influencers, publishers or e-tailers. Examples cited by the company tend to converge around beauty — including at-home nail stickers, ways to revive second-day hair and finding a full-coverage concealer — but of course, the platform could cover apparel, accessories or other items.

As a social commerce effort, the videos are shot in portrait mode, of course, and Shoploop users can follow accounts and share the clips with friends. More importantly, interested users can save listings or go directly to the seller’s online store to purchase.

According to Shoploop general manager Lax Poojary, the idea targets the often irritating experience of seeing something interesting on social media, then having to hunt down e-commerce options elsewhere. He witnessed this firsthand while in the New York City subway last year.

“One of the young commuters standing next to me was silently scrolling on her device, switching between a social media app, YouTube and an online shop,” he wrote in the blog. “Curious, I asked her what she was doing. It turns out she’d seen somebody promote a makeup product on social media, and wanted to check it out — so she watched reviews on YouTube to see how it would look in real life and whether other people liked it. Then she looked it up on an e-commerce site to buy it.

“This took three different apps or web sites, at minimum, to find what she was looking for,” he said.

Of course, this sentiment ignores the recent spate of social commerce efforts. As with most areas of e-commerce, social shopping has gotten a boost in the age of the coronavirus, particularly now, as numerous regions rethink their retail reopenings. Traction may spike further, thanks to developments by the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, not to mention a newer wave of contenders like Poshmark, Verishop and newcomer Squadded Shopping Party, among many others.

Unlike most of these platforms, the Shoploop action takes place inside a mobile web browser instead of a dedicated mobile app — though, if it’s a hit, some sort of entry in Google Play or Apple’s App Store seems likely. For now, plans are in the works for a desktop version.

What’s important to remember is that Shoploop is not an official offering, but an experiment hatched by Area 120, an in-house R&D division within the sprawling tech company that often tests new initiatives with the public. Given the company’s reputation for indulging experiments and then shuttering them, there’s no telling where this project will go.

The only thing that’s clear is that the tech titan’s deeply interested in online retail.

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