Snap and Amazon are testing a new visual search feature that allows users to shop for products using the Snapchat app. Users who point the Snapchat camera at a physical product or bar code are directed to a similar item’s product detail page on Amazon’s website or mobile app to complete the purchase (Figure 1). This initiative reflects Amazon’s rising desire to capture Centennials, the next generation of shoppers who practically live in social apps like Snapchat.

Figure 1. Snapchat visual search


Source: Snapchat

This strategic partnership is the latest in a string of social commerce initiatives from retailers and social networks over the past year. Target, for example, has embedded Pinterest’s Lens visual search technology into its Web and app experience. What is unique about Snapchat’s Amazon integration, though, is that it aligns with how users engage with the platform already. While nearly 30% of all shoppers use Snapchat, 73% do not use it to shop, at least not yet. That said, sharing a photo or video of a product or unboxing experience is one of the top shopping-related activities taking place on Snapchat (Figure 2). To drive adoption of Snapchat as a shopping channel, the Amazon shopping component fits in organically with Snapchat users’ behavior, rather than adding it to its own website or app’s functionality.


Figure 2. Top shopping-related uses of Snapchat
(among U.S. primary household shoppers that have used Snapchat)


Source: ShopperScape®, July 2018

Other social media players are also positioning themselves to monetize their near-constant connection with users. Instagram has expanded shoppable tags in Instagram Stories and launched a new landing page dedicated to shopping in its “Explore” section. At the same time, Amazon has launched a Pinterest-like, personalized shopping feed called Amazon Scout (Figure 3). As a result, social platforms are becoming more like retailers and retailers more like social media platforms. Ultimately, both are looking for new ways to enhance discoverability of shoppable products online.

Figure 3. Amazon Scout


Source: Amazon

Key considerations for suppliers

  • Ensure that products can be easily recognized by visual search technology.
  • Understand how users are engaging with social networks and embed shopping options that are organic to the nature of the platform. 
  • Watch for more seamless checkout options on social media platforms to accelerate shopping through this channel. 
  • Consider how core social media principles can be translated to online retailers’ offering and align across the 4 P’s.

To learn more about social commerce and how it is influencing key online retailers, join us at our Digital Leadership Workshop on Oct. 23 in Seattle.

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For more information, please contact:

Meaghan Werle, Senior Analyst

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