YouTube is bringing shopping features to Shorts as it chases TikTok

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The platform is testing affiliate marketing and in-app shopping features on Shorts. TikTok began testing in-app purchases last week.

New shopping features are coming to YouTube Shorts, including affiliate marketing and the ability to purchase items through Shorts, as first reported by the Financial Times (via TechCrunch).

The long-form video giant is testing shopping features with US-based creators and audiences in the US, India, Brazil, Canada, and Australia, allowing influencers to tag their own products in Shorts that viewers can then purchase, according to the report. An affiliate marketing program, open to select US influencers, adds yet another way for creators to monetize their Shorts, with YouTube, the creator, and the merchant all taking a cut of sales, according to the Financial Times.

YouTube didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

Shopping is a potentially lucrative area for platforms that run on advertising dollars, and Shorts competitors are eyeing expanding even more into e-commerce.

The addition of Shorts shopping features comes just days after TikTok announced similar features. Last week, TikTok began testing its long-anticipated Shop program, which lets users purchase products directly in the app. TikTok has made clear its plan to integrate shopping into its app: before testing in the US, the feature was available in the UK and parts of Southeast Asia. The company also appears to be gearing up to build fulfillment centers in the US as part of its Shop program, with the company handling customer service, warehousing, and returns.

Affiliate programs and other shopping features could make YouTube more appealing for content creators as the company tries to compete with TikTok — and it has signaled it’s not afraid to pour money into the effort. In September, YouTube announced it would give 45 percent of ad revenue to Shorts creators, with YouTube keeping the remainder.

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