Google Shoppable Hangouts are a new and innovative way of adding eCommerce to a traditional Google+ Hangout on Air. They feature both interesting discussions and the ability to purchase products. The setup is similar to the Home Shopping Network in that items are discussed and then the audience is given the opportunity to purchase. Currently, the Shoppable Hangout is in trial mode with a select group of companies participating. To quote Google:
Americans spent 121 billion minutes on social media sites and bought more than $200 billion of goods online in 2012. We set out to use Google’s digital technologies in the social and commerce spaces to create a unique experience that combines these two major online behaviors. Through a newly developed feature for Google+ Hangouts on Air that allows apps to be built alongside the Hangout UI, we were able to adapt Google Shopping Shortlists to work as an app for viewers of a Hangout to watch and shop at the same time.
Fashion icon and designer Diane Von Furstenberg (DVF) was the first brand featured on a Shoppable Hangout last October. The hangout featured Diane being interviewed about her career in the fashion industry along with some tidbits about her Studio 54 days. Clothing from her new collection was modeled and Diane provided interesting details about the fabrics and workmanship involved in the creation of her designs. She selected a handbag from her collection for each of the styles and showed flattering silhouettes that appeal to different shapes and sizes. The hangout also featured happy DVF customers, in the lower filmstrip portion of the hangout, who asked questions of the designer. A window on the right side of the screen showed three collections, all available for purchase immediately or later, via the replay.
So far, Google has experimented with nearly two hundred brands that are interested in the marketing implications of this platform. Retailers like Nike, Best Buy and Kohl’s have taken part in the beta testing. Participating brands have been pleased with the results, according to Ria Tobaccowala, a member of the Google+ Partnership Team working on Shoppable Hangouts. They report an increase in sales and website visits, more mentions in the social space and increased engagement during the airing of the hangout.
Google Shoppable Hangouts are not just for the big retailers. Nonprofits are grabbing a piece of the action also. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recently hosted a Pet Day Adoptable Hangout, in collaboration with Google and Yahoo, featuring pet adoption shelters throughout the United States. Google created a unique Adoption App which allowed shelters to showcase animals in various cities and connect potential owners to the pet’s adoption page. In addition, they featured interviews from pet experts and incentives to adopt a pet.
The Shoppable Hangout will be introduced via a new shopping app, called the Promotions App. It will, most likely, be accessed through an icon within the Google+ Hangout. To use the app, the hangout host must have a product page with a payment portal and links to the items for sale. It is important to note that viewers and buyers do not need to have a Google account to browse, participate and/or buy the products showcased in the hangout.
The implications of Shoppable Hangouts are vast and open the door to unlimited social commerce possibilities. As of this writing, the platform is in beta and a release date has not been announced.