YouTube wants to make itself into a shopping destination

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Online shopping is big business, and without a doubt, Amazon is the king of the hill. But there’s one place many people stop to research a potential purchase before heading to Amazon, and that is YouTube. YouTube is keenly aware that shoppers come to the platform to research items before purchase, and they want to keep those shoppers on YouTube.

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Next week, YouTube is hosting a weeklong live stream called “Holiday Stream,” where the platforms “stars” and social media “stars” will be selling their merchandise as well as name brand merchandise. The company is hoping that this event will lead to more online shopping opportunities for the company.

“We’re making their jobs harder,” David Katz, YouTube’s vice president for shopping, said in an interview “YouTube has an enormous shopping opportunity.”

In the coming weeks, some YouTubers will be able to hawk goods from their videos, a concept known as shoppable video. It’s all part of the company’s biggest push yet to become a shopping destination.

YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has toyed with this idea for years, but its plans accelerated when the pandemic created a surge in e-commerce. The company also faces new competition in luring advertising dollars — its core business — from the likes of Amazon, which is quickly growing its ads unit.

Last year, YouTube began asking creators to track the items they featured in footage in an initial step to build buying features directly inside videos, as Bloomberg News first reported. This summer, YouTube hired Katz, an e-commerce veteran, and Bridget Dolan, an executive with beauty chain Sephora, to lead a new division focused on shopping.


Given that users spend a lot of time on YouTube researching products, it makes sense that the company would want to monetize this. It’s also likely that the YouTube “stars” who are participating will also be compensated for their participation, but we’re not sure about that.

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