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Who will conquer the shoppable content?

Instagram and Google launch interactive online shopping platforms 


Every other Wednesday, h/commerce provides in-depth analysis of the most impactful trends reshaping retail.

The concurrence between the companies betting on shoppable content and social commerce heats up. After Amazon who has launched Amazon Live last year and the growing popularity of Popshop Live in the United States, after Facebook and Pinterest implementing tools to help users buy featured items without being transferred to the product’s website, two major announcements from last few weeks agitate the shoppable social media stage.

The already saturated market is being tapped progressively by Instagram which continues to transform its business model. On 16th July, Instagram announced the official launch of ‘Instagram Shops’. Almost the same week, another big contender has entered the game – Google – with its newest shoppable video content mobile app – Shoploop.

With the tech-powerhouses showing off the muscles and dropping the new e-commerce destinations that have a potential to encourage customers to continue shopping online instead of going to the stores, h/commerce provides some quick insights about the two latest innovations presented by Instagram and Google as well as their growing social commerce ambitions.

Instagram Shops


Riding on the wave of the successful launch of Instagram Checkout, the company continues to roll out new ways to encourage users to shop directly on the platform. The newest feature called ‘Instagram Shops’ grew out of how Instagram users were actually already using the platform for inspiration and to discover new things to buy. The new tab dedicated to shopping is introduced to the Explore tab and the photo-centric user interface with well-staged, creative photographs is a dream place for creating engaging and shoppable content – a fact that is proved by numbers. The last year research from Instagram’ parenting company Facebook revealed, that brand content on the platform fosters shopping decisions through each key phase of the buyer’s journey.

People surveyed say Instagram helps them with the following:

83% discover new products or services

81% research products or services

80% decide whether to buy a product or service.

Even before the new features introduced in July, Instagram has been already a perfect place to reach the clients in all stages of the buying process, from discovery, consideration, until the final decision.

The new tab – Instagram Shops – exploits this incredible potential and completes the process with perfect targeting capabilities and the great amount of data. Everything is here, to create the most personalized experience to the end user.

Credits: Republik Retail

How does it work from the user point of view? Instagram Shop is introduced to the Explore tab, making it easier and simpler to browse and buy from brands and creators. The choice of brands is highly personalized and according to Instagram, the new tab allows the users to discover the latest trends, get personalized recommendations, preview exclusive launches – and most importantly – all in one place – so the user can browse and buy the products that he or she loves from the first sight. When it comes to payment, Facebook Pay option has been added to complete the purchases.

What is more, a growing number of brands (and especially from the beauty industry including retailers like Sephora) are also starting to embrace Instagram-exclusive drops and launches that show up as notifications to followers.

Source: Burberry

In 2018, Instagram began allowing users to tag products in their content, making them more monetizable. Last year, the platform introduced the in-app checkout. With this year’s innovation, Instagram is setting itself up to become an ultimate shopping destination where users can find inspiration and lifestyle. A destination where they can effortlessly purchase any items to make the Instagram dream life reality.

Shoploop by Google

Shoploop is the most recent innovation introduced by Google’s research and development lab – Area 120. The new mobile app is a video shopping platform that will allow users to watch 90 second or less videos in order to discover a range of products and reviews on them. The idea behind is to create a digital shopping experience in the form of bite-size informational videos available on mobile devices. Customers can purchase the products directly or save them for later.

The idea behind Shoploop is to help customers to get the look and feel of products without the need of going to the store and get products’ reviews from real people who are knowledgeable about the products, as for now – mainly from the beauty industry.

The goal is to replicate and monetize the mechanics that work well on Youtube, on which users consult videos to get information and tutorials. Shoploop is aimed to be a dedicated platform for discovering, evaluating and buying products in one place. It has a vertical scrolling format and the videos play automatically as we scroll. It definitely feels a lot like Tiktok, and the content is a mixture of ‘vlog’ style video in which an influencer demonstrates a product, talks about its benefits, does the tutorials and animated product close-ups.

Google is taking a page out of Instagram’s influencer industry but at the same time the giant from Mountain View is counting mostly on its influencers from Youtube. Their power should not be underestimated, as eight in ten consumers make a purchase based on influencers’ recommendations (Wunderman Thompson “The Future Shopper Report”). Google wants to become one-stop-shop for all: video, social, discovery and shoppable interactivity.

Why is it interesting?

Once upon a time, social networks like Instagram were created to stay in touch with friends. With time, they have become an integral part of e-commerce engine as they allow more and more shopping options and cover the integrity of buying process.

In the last two years Instagram has become much more than lifestyle destination or brand awareness tool. As more and more retailers have been pivoting toward online shopping amidst Covid-19 lockdowns across the globe, the social shopping merging content, inspiration and social aspects are on a roll.

Instagram as a commerce tool is stronger every year, and appeals to such powerhouses like Sephora, which is selling directly over 80 brands on Instagram. Google is looking to join up the bandwagon where we have already Amazon Live, Facebook Live, Instagram Shop and some smaller platforms like Popshop. All of them try to copy the success of Chinese super-apps like WeChat or Alipay and create all-in-one experiences through the same interface.

There has never been more crucial time to invest in social media for brands and retailers, as the social media, influencers, entertainment and ecommerce become one.

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Mikaela Barbosa

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