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Shopify + YouTube Partnership for Social Commerce

YouTube is an eCommerce channel that can’t be ignored. In addition to being the second most popular social platform after Facebook with more than 2 billion monthly users worldwide, YouTube is also the second most popular search engine after Google. Research shows that 90% of consumers say they discover new brands or products on YouTube, and 40% say they have purchased those products. Seventy-five percent of consumers say that using YouTube makes for a better shopping experience. 

However, YouTube is still underutilized by many brands, with just half of marketers in the U.S. reporting they use it for marketing efforts. Shopify, via its partnership with YouTube, is hoping to help the eCommerce merchants on its platform better leverage YouTube shopping as a competitive advantage – particularly those that already have a YouTube channel and following. 

Current YouTube eCommerce landscape

Who’s selling via YouTube today? You’ll most likely see content creators and paid influencers leading the pack, with sponsorships from brands to showcase their products. In addition, you’ll find influencers leveraging their large numbers of followers to diversify into their own eCommerce businesses, most commonly with merch. 

The state of social shopping in the U.S.

Although social shopping and/or livestream shopping isn’t yet the norm in the US, it’s only a matter of time. Currently, livestream shopping is most popular in China – it grew 85% from 2020 to 2021, representing nearly 12% of total retail eCommerce sales. Nearly 44% of the $300 billion in sales from livestreams in China happen on social platforms. Most audiences are Gen Z and Millennials, but increasing numbers of older consumers are also being reported.

In the U.S., where social platforms are still trying to figure out social shopping, various shopping features have been launched (and some sunsetted) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. With the Shopify-YouTube partnership, Shopify clearly wants to be part of a solution. 

Shopify + YouTube Partnership: Features

The partnership enables brands to integrate their Shopify stores with YouTube videos. This will be a definite user experience upgrade from having to refer customers to “see links below to purchase the products you see in this video.” 

What does the new experience look like? There are three ways for Shopify merchants to sell products via YouTube: 

1) Pinning or tagging products at specific points in a livestream video so customers can click to buy while continuing to watch the video


2) By showcasing featured products below on-demand videos:

3) Via a “Store” tab that appears at the top of a brand’s channel page – users click on the tab to see products for sale:

The Shopify-YouTube partnership helps simplify management for brands selling on YouTube – specifically streamlining inventory management and making the user experience better. For example, merchants can: 

  • Link only to live inventory so that links never take customers to out-of-stock items
  • Ensure that all product information, including name, price, details, and more is always current via automatic catalog sync from the Shopify store to YouTube
  • Capture subscriptions via YouTube
  • Track YouTube sales within the Shopify admin

Test YouTube as a shopping channel for your customers

The technology race is on to find a home for social shopping in the U.S. In addition to YouTube and other established social platforms, startup platforms like NTWRK are trying to get into the game. NTWRK is getting some attention, targeting Gen Z and Millennials and positioned as “the most culturally relevant, livestream shopping marketplace… (for) audiences who are obsessed with pop culture.” Right now it behooves Shopify merchants – especially brands that have a YouTube following already – to start experimenting with Shopify-YouTube shopping features to see what works for their customers. Taking the time now means you’ll be better prepared as new channels pop up in the future and the space becomes more crowded. If you’re not sure how to start, we can help you be strategic about how best to leverage all that Shopify Plus has to offer.