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Helpouts: Google’s video-based e-commerce platform is for real, now looking for experts

So here it is then, Google’s next big idea – an idea that may or may not one day be swept away in one of its famed ‘spring cleans’. We’re talking Google Helpouts, a video-based marketplace for skills.

News of Helpouts first hit the Web almost exactly a month ago, though at the time there was no official word from Google. That came today.

Looking for sellers

The new feature, which’ll utilize Google’s Hangouts platform, will allow both individuals and businesses to offer their skills and services to consumers via live video. Note the word ‘will’. It’s not up and running just yet. What the Mountain View company needs first are the aforementioned individuals and businesses to populate Helpouts’ category pages, which currently include Home & Garden, Computers & Electronics, Health & Counseling, Nutrition & Fitness, Fashion & Beauty, Art & Music, Cooking & Education. To this end, the Web giant is currently sending out invites to experts. You can register an interest by submitting your name and email address here.

Google put up a new website on Tuesday explaining how sellers can get involved, with policies and support pages offering a bundle of information about the forthcoming service.

If you’re a seller wanting to get on Helpouts, you’ll first need to submit a listing detailing your area of expertise. Once your listing has been reviewed, a Google rep will get in touch via video to learn more about you, to offer advice on creating the perfect Helpouts listing, and – perhaps most important of all considering your ability to communicate with your customer depends on it – to check the quality of your video feed.

Google will let you know via email if your listing has been accepted. If it’s rejected you’ll be told what you need to change. Once through the process, you’ll appear on the Helpouts site, at which point customers will hopefully come flocking to your bookings page where they can schedule an appointment.

20 percent

You can offer your service for nothing if you’re feeling generous, or alternatively you can try to make a few bucks by setting a lesson rate. Transactions can only be made through Google Wallet, and you’re right, the Mountain View company hasn’t set up Helpouts out of the goodness of its heart – it’ll take a 20 percent cut each time you sell a lesson, thank you very much.

So what do you think? Will this be a hit or a miss for the Web giant? There are of course plenty of similar services already out there, but Google’s huge reach and high profile will certainly give Helpouts a fighting chance.

There’s no talk of when the service might launch; presumably the company’s waiting to get a decent number of experts on board first.

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