Google’s R&D division, Area 120 has introduced Shoploop for public user testing. Shoploop is a video shopping platform designed to allow consumers to browse short, under 90-seconds, videos in a TikTok like consumption format and discover new products. The app also allows browsing by categories and will begin testing with content across makeup, skincare, hair and nails.
Shoploop is attempting to replicate the aisle by aisle, leisurely browsing behaviour into an online format. The idea of browsing online to buy is hardly new. Whether it is online shopping catalogues or social media, this format of discovery for the purpose of purchase is a time-worn consumption format. Shoploop is attempting to combine the success of the short-form video format popularised by TikTok and similar apps with the success of makeup tutorials on YouTube to convert discovery into sales – an effective constriction of the sales funnel.
The app currently does not allow you to search for videos by specific brands or products, this is likely because the experience the app wants to replicate is similar to the mode of discovery and distribution of content on TikTok – where the feeds for each user have a high degree of algorithmic curation, augmented by human curation of trends. This positions Shoploop towards browsing behaviour (discovery primarily) more than targeting consumers who already know what they want.
However Shoploop appears to lack a fundamental element, social capital, that would make the platform a mass success rather than a niche product. The application seems to have no tether to the current Youtube makeup influencer landscape, a key area that Google might be able to tap into to bring more validity to the application. The burden of influencer partnerships and marketing, however, falls to the businesses and brands seeking to make sales through Shoploop – but where there is no network effect on the platform to incentivise additional marketing budget this may not pick up momentum without some added incentive from Google’s end.
This format of browsing, discovery and purchase appears to be much more in line with Instagram and the social capital available on its platform. Many of the makeup influencers on Youtube, have complimentary Instagram accounts. Porting social capital and influence to this format of browsing short-form product videos would give Instagram influencers, large and small, an avenue to monetise their built-up social capital. Instagram’s Shop Tab is a representation of this model and leverages the platform’s users who are already entrenched in the browsing behaviour developed by its infinite feed scroll.