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Google has big plans to turn YouTube into a shopping destination

According to a report from Bloomberg, Google is in the early stages of transforming YouTube into a shopping site. This enables customers to directly make purchases when they see a product review video, unboxing video or tutorials – and so on. In many ways, YouTube is already a shopping destination of sorts and 55% of customers use videos to make purchase decisions. But, when users make a decision to buy a product – after watching a video they had to go to another website where they could actually place an order for the products. Google now wants to make it easy for users to instantly purchase the products they are interested in. Users should be able to directly buy the products without having to leave YouTube.

Google is already making moves to turn this plan into a reality by gathering information about products featured in videos. Eventually, YouTube’s video library will turn into a product catalog where users can click on items they see and directly buy them. Initially this is tested with limited channels. The creators will have control over the products that are tagged in their videos.

To make this possible, Google is testing an integration with Shopify to sell products through YouTube. It is not clear however, how Google will make money from this endeavour. There is no mention whether there’s a financial incentive for creators to tag the products in their videos. This can also open up another revenue stream for Youtubers. Some also believe that it could compromise the authenticity of the creator’s content – if they are suddenly making money from products.

It’s important to note that this is not the first time Google has tried to integrate shopping features into YouTube. Last year too, Google partnered with Merchbar to sell official YouTuber merchandise underneath the videos. With this, YouTubers could promote their merchandise. In this method too, transactions happened on the merchbar’s site (not on YouTube). Last year Google too rolled out Shopping Actions on YouTube. But, this is the first time Google is offering a way for consumers to buy products directly on YouTube.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai specifically commented on the potential of shopping on YouTube.

“When you think about things like unboxing and product reviews, those are a natural home for transactions as well.”

Google hasn’t announced when exactly this feature will be rolled out or launched. Perhaps it will make an appearance in time for holiday shopping season?