Consumers continue to discover and seek more creative ways to shop, and in response, more companies are making the effort to elevate the visual appeal of the e-commerce shopping experience. While Google has tapped its experimental in-house lab to launch the Shoploop platform, the founders of fashion search engine The Urge have created a new visual search tool called Shnap.
Google’s in-house lab for experimental R&D projects, Area 120, developed Shoploop, a video shopping platform designed to give shoppers the chance to discover, evaluate and buy products all in one place. Conversely, shoppers use Shnap, which its creators refer to as the “Shazam for shopping,” by taking their own photos and instantly using them to find and compare what they’re looking for.
All Shoploop videos are shorter than 90 seconds and designed to deliver video product reviews from real people who are knowledgeable about certain product categories. Once shoppers find a product that interests them, they can either save the product to buy it later or click straight to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase.
In a blog post, Lax Poojary, general manager of Shoploop, noted that he was on the New York City subway conducting user research for Google’s now-shuttered standalone travel app Touring Bird when he found the inspiration for Shoploop.
“One of the young commuters standing next to me was silently scrolling on her device, switching between a social media app, YouTube and an online shop,” Poojary wrote. “Curious, I asked her what she was doing. It turns out she’d seen somebody promote a makeup product on social media and wanted to check it out—so she watched reviews on YouTube to see how it would look in real life and whether other people liked it. Then she looked it up on an e-commerce site to buy it. This took three different apps or websites, at minimum, to find what she was looking for.”
With this disjointed experience in mind, Poojary sought ways to combine these features before consumers even think of visiting a physical store. In creating Shoploop, Google envisions an experience that is more interactive than just scrolling through images, titles and descriptions on a traditional e-commerce site.
“The new Google video and shopping platform shows the constant growth and importance of social shopping,” said Marcel Hollerbach, chief marketing officer at Productsup, which distributes content into e-commerce channels. “With TikTok on the rise and Facebook continuously launching new features for Instagram, Google’s Shoploop shows that the company does not want to miss out on the social shopping experience. Shoploop is like a modern telemarketing channel that offers new opportunities for brands and companies to show their products in a different environment and adds the entertainment factor to the shopping experience. With Google’s understanding of how to handle product data, we can expect a seamless shopping experience for customers.”
Shoppers can also follow their favorite Shoploop creators and share videos with friends and family. Currently, Shoploop is focused on content creators, publishers and online store owners in the beauty industry in categories such as makeup, skincare, hair and nails, but the technology would certainly play well visually with apparel and footwear, especially since shoppers need to know beforehand whether the product looks like it would be a good fit.
“Our goal is to provide [consumers with] a platform where they can review and recommend products and help others shop directly from their videos,” Poojary wrote. “For example, Jessica, contributing editor at Allure, shows the benefits of using a Mihakka (a face exfoliating tool made with clay from the Atlas mountains in Morocco), and Adeline Koh, owner of handmade skincare company Sabbatical Beauty, highlights the craftsmanship and story behind her products. If you are a content creator or a store owner in any of these product areas, you can apply through our website to be an exclusive Shoploop creator.”
Rather than relying on other shoppers’ reviews to find top products, Shnap uses artificial intelligence-powered image recognition technology to identify styles, patterns, colors and other product characteristics to find visually similar products and rank results based on a relative score. From there, the app’s auto search capability enables shoppers to discover which store is selling either the exact same item, or a similar style item, at the best price.
All stores on Shnap go through a thorough review to ensure they sell only legitimate and branded products. Capitalizing on the changing consumer habits towards resale and sustainability for fashion, more than 25 percent of the products available via the Shnap app are labelled sustainable or pre-owned.
Early beta testers have been using Shnap over the past month, with the company saying that on average, each user is “shnapping” three to five images per week, which drives traffic and sales to retailers. The company is launching with fashion products to start and will expand to other verticals later this year, such as baby and homewares, due to feedback and demand from beta testers.
“We want Shnap to be tightly integrated into the overall shopping experience,” said Cayley Ostrin, co-founder of Shnap. “As a result, we make it easy for anyone to quickly find what they’re looking for and discover new brands, while driving traffic, sales, reach and exposure for our retail partners.”
Users can experience the Shoploop experiment by entering shoploop.app on their mobile device. The current site is optimized for mobile and will be offered to desktop users “soon.” Shoppers can download the Shnapp app on iOS, Android and even as a Chrome browser extension, designed so that shoppers can click the Shnap button on any image or item and find which stores sell that product at the best price.