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4 Things to Know About YouTube Live Shopping

On July 19th of this year, YouTube announced a partnership with Shopify, the popular e-commerce platform, that will form the backbone of a new endeavor: YouTube Live Shopping.

While YouTube already influences shopping decisions — who among us hasn’t used it to check out a video review of a phone or watch in tingling silence as our favorite content creator unboxes a new pair of shoes? — this partnership will offer an integrated platform for content creators to sell products.

That is, instead of clicking a link or visiting a different website, viewers can watch livestreams and purchase products without leaving YouTube.

We can already hear the deep breathing contemplation of how YouTube Shopping will affect video marketing. So, before you stream your glow-up to push some product, let’s walk through four things you should know about YouTube Shopping.

Live Shopping Has Been Around Forever

Like all things involving the internet, live shopping is essentially a new term for an old practice. A viewer will watch a video, typically but not always a livestream, that demos a product or offers a review. The viewer can then purchase the product right then and there without any extra rigmarole.

Anyone who’s ever guilt-ordered exercise equipment from an infomercial or traveled back in time to the old west to purchase the back of a salesman’s touring wagon is already well-versed in live shopping. Really, the only difference today is the medium.

Live shopping is also already a feature on various social media and e-commerce platforms. For example, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok already have their own live shopping features for content creators and viewers.

As the e-commerce world continues to grow, live shopping has become an increasingly popular way for consumers to make purchases, and there’s a bevy of statistics to back this up. For instance, a 2021 survey found that 70% of respondents prefer live shopping to other social media marketing channels. In addition, Hootsuite’s 2022 digital trends report found that 30% of internet users watch at least one livestream every week.

YouTube Already Influences Buying Decisions

Take away the talk of integrated platforms and livestreams, and YouTube was already a significant influencer in purchasing decisions. Product reviews and demonstrations run rampant in many people’s algorithms. And these aren’t just the amateurish productions of bookish preteens.

In fact, 89% of people who watch YouTube agree that its content creators give recommendations they can trust. Americans have more trust in YouTube influencers than they do in their friends and family.

And, of course, YouTube isn’t some meager website that struggles to attract visitors. It receives 1.7 billion unique visitors each month, a metric that makes it the second-most visited website on the internet. More people visit YouTube than Amazon, Facebook, and Wikipedia.

Shopify Integration Will Make Life Easier for Sellers and Buyers

While YouTube plays a significant role in influencing purchasing decisions, they haven’t made it easy to enact that decision. Instead, content creators are forced to put links into the video’s description or end cards to the product, forcing the viewer to go to a different website to buy something.

However, by integrating Shopify into their video-sharing platform, YouTube makes purchasing a much easier pursuit. Instead of forcing the buyer to another website, purchasing happens all on YouTube’s platform.

Even better, sellers can ensure that everything stays in sync from one platform to the other. Update your inventory, price, or product photos in Shopify, and the correct information will populate on YouTube. 

Then, content creators can pin or tag products they discuss during their video. Then, when viewers reach the appropriate part of the content, viewers will be able to purchase the product without leaving the stream or YouTube.

As buyers buy, the inventory will be updated on both platforms, helping to ensure a smooth experience for everyone.

YouTube Live Shopping May Not Be Ready for B2B Brands… Yet

The B2C implications of YouTube Shopping are pretty straightforward. However, for B2B marketers, the benefits may not be so plainly seen. (And, as we all know, there is a difference between B2B and B2C marketing.)

Shopify does offer B2B accounts. However, the features are pretty limited. You won’t be able to sell services, digital products, or subscriptions, for instance.

So, many B2B brands may feel left out in the cold. However, what’s essential here may not be the integration of these two platforms as much as what the integration represents.

First, if this new feature set works, YouTube may expand it to other platforms more relevant to B2B brands. This means that it may only be a matter of time before B2B marketers can experience the adrenaline rush of an integrated experience.

Second, it’s time for B2B brands to consider using influencers as part of their video marketing strategy. Even if you’re not using the Shopify platform, YouTube influencers have a broad reach, and the number focusing specifically on B2B brands is growing.

Influencers aren’t just well suited for the scrappy startup, either. Gigantic companies like IBM use social media influencers as part of their marketing strategy to help answer questions and expand their brand.

Preparing for YouTube Shopping and Beyond

Even if you’re not necessarily interested in the YouTube-Shopify partnership, one clear marketing takeaway should be that YouTube affects purchasing decisions. So, if the platform isn’t already a part of your distribution or promotion plan, you may want to reconsider.

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