Could YouTube be the next online marketplace?

Google is taking on the likes of Amazon and Alibaba as reports surface on it testing a feature on YouTube that allows users to purchase products they see on videos. The intention of this new feature is likely to marry components of livestreaming and social commerce, where the videos on YouTube will now end up being catalogs for consumers.

According to the Bloomberg report, YouTube is already asking creators to tag products used in their video and this data is then sent to Google. A spokesperson from YouTube also told Bloomberg, the feature is still in an experimental stage. This wouldn’t be Google’s first foray into the online marketplace stage with its Google Shopping feature. On the Google Shopping platform, consumers are said to be able to add items to a shopping cart based on what they have seen on search, images and YouTube.

The move comes as eCommerce takes centre stage in today’s world with no end in sight of COVID-19. Social commerce, which encompasses every step of purchasing a product through the intermediary of a social media platform, is an emerging key challenger to traditional online retailers. In 2019, China had 500 million buyers on social commerce platforms. According to a Forrester report, COVID-19 will fast-track the adoption of social commerce channels outside China, where more existing and new entrants will experiment with content sharing commerce, membership-based team purchases, reselling, and livestreaming e-commerce. In China, social commerce is the fastest-growing form of e-commerce and Forrester expects it to reach US$684 billion by 2023.

Meanwhile, livestreaming eCommerce is also picking up outside China. In China, Forrester analysts expected livestreaming commerce to grow — even before the impact of COVID-19 — at a CAGR of 45.7% to reach US$100 billion by 2023. In the last few months, the retailers’ interest in this type of interaction with customers has only increased.

In Southeast Asia, Lazada increased GMV by 45% month-on-month in April 2020 via its LazLive livestreaming app. Flipkart launched a pilot of 2GudSocial with influencer-led video commerce in India. Forrester analysts expect more and more brands to pick up livestreaming during the upcoming festive sales season in Asia Pacific to make up for the loss in sales during the first half of 2020.

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