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August 28, 2013

Google Helpouts: A Virtual Marketplace Coming Soon!

In July, Google shared that it was working on a new tool called Helpouts, which will serve as a sort of virtual marketplace where every type of business can sell their services through live video. This type of tool is exciting for business-owners, since it could create dozens of new ways to connect with customers.

The idea of selling products or services over live video may be appealing and exciting to some, but if your business belongs to a unique niche or you don’t think “real-time commerce” is for you, Helpouts will still offer a variety of other capabilities that can benefit you. Google wants the Helpouts to also serve as a place for experts to share their knowledge to help viewers learn.

With the popularity of e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, it’s not a surprise that Google would want to take a stab at their own online marketplace. However, the main, and most promising, difference will be Google’s use of their cloud services to offer live commerce in real-time.

It’s not expected for Google to publicly release the Helpouts tool for at least a month, but Google says it’s “currently inviting people with expertise across a number of topics to be able to offer Helpouts when we go live – and to make money sharing their skills and knowledge with the world.”

The service is available through invite only right now, but it’s the perfect time to check out the welcome page and decide if your business can benefit when Helpouts is launched!

What Exactly Is It?

The Helpouts tool will be broken into categories, such as “Computers,” “Education,” “Food,” “Health,” “Repair” and more. Google’s interface shows a section called “Give your own Helpouts,” which will be where you can create a Helpout for your customers.

Throughout each category, businesses and merchants will be able to connect to their customers through live video at any time, as well as on a scheduled basis. The services you can offer via Helpouts is almost limitless – it seems like the Helpouts platform will offer anything from mentoring programs to fashion guides to small lessons.

Sellers and companies will be able to create their own profiles, and there will be other features such as scheduling and payment capabilities. This may be Google’s way of integrating their own virtual payment service,Google Wallet, the Google alternative to PayPal.

The layout of the categories will also make the search and discovery process extremely efficient for consumers looking to find a business or service. Consequently, Helpouts will likely become a new marketing platform all businesses with online presences will need to be aware of – especially if customers will be using the platform to search.

Get Invited!

Even though Google hasn’t publicly launched its Helpouts platform yet, you can still visit the homepage and express your interest. By sharing your email address, Google will be able to provide you with news on when Helpouts will become live and information if you would like to offer your own Helpouts.

It’s been reported that Google has already partnered with major brands for internal testing – brands such as Sears and Weight Watchers. When the platform launches, these brands will most likely be the first to offer free and paid services to viewers through the Helpouts tool.

Background Screenings

One of the major categories offered in Helpouts will be “Health.” Because of this, Google is taking precautions to ensure that healthcare professionals who sign up for Helpouts are legitimate, safe resources for consumers. After all, they’ll be able to offer advice and knowledge via the Helpouts that will affect viewers’ health.

To do this, Google appears to be working with a background screening service called HireRight to screen professionals and verify their legitimacy.

How Should You Use It?

If you decide to create a Helpouts account when it’s launched, you’ll be able to connect with your customers in a variety of ways! You can be creative with the fact that you’ll have live, real-time capabilities, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Help your customers immediately when they have questions. You can create Helpouts that could serve as Q&A forums for your viewers. Consumers are used to either visiting a website and scrolling through text or calling customer service lines and waiting on hold if they want an answer.Since Google Helpouts will be live, you’ll be able to have a place for your customers to come any time they have a question. It’ll be a way for them to receive help quickly! This will allow you to build stronger relationships with customers, because live video will make the process more efficient for them.
  • Do live presentations. Whether you want to have a live cooking show or a live demonstration about your new water pump product, live videos will be exciting ways for your customers to learn more about your business, products and services.Helpouts will also allow you to sell your products in better ways, because the live nature of the platform makes it exciting and engaging for viewers.
  • Customer service can be more personal. If you’re answering questions about your product or helping a customer fix a problem they’re having with it, the live Google Helpouts can allow you to be more attentive to their needs.You’ll be able to guarantee they receive a personalized answer to their question or problem, which will help you gain referrals and, above all, a happy customer base.

No matter how you decide to use Google Helpouts, they offer promising ways for you to connect with your consumers. Keep your eyes peeled for more news once the platform is officially released!

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist who writes about social media and online marketing. She works with a number of businesses looking to expand their marketing efforts, such as Cliffside Industries Kitchen Hardware Collection, which hopes to use the service to advertise their products.