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Snapchat to shift further into ecommerce with AR features

It looks like Snapchat is headed down the same path as Instagram with its newly announced features intended to boost ecommerce opportunities.

Long time Instagram users may remember when it decided to introduce a bunch of new features last year – for better or worse – that promoted shopping and ecommerce from inside the app.

Now, in an unsurprising move, Snapchat wants in on the ecommerce hype. Last week it announced a bunch of new features that will utilise AR to offer users novel ways to ‘try’ products and test out items before buying them.

It’s part of a growing trend in AR commerce – a relatively new but game changing phenomena that could bring social media apps closer to larger retailers like ASOS and Amazon.

We’ve already seen TikTok jump into the ‘digital clothing’ market earlier this year, but Snapchat could make the experience more personal and easy to share with friends given that quick, camera-focused content is its bread and butter.

Here’s a quick rundown of the announced features and what to expect from the e-commerce industry moving forward.

What are the new features?

At its Partner Summit last week, Snapchat announced AR-enabled ‘Snap Spectacles’ for developers, as well as an improved AR scan feature that allows you to quickly identify specific information about certain items.

Plus, Snapchat’s own ‘Scan’ mobile app will be getting new integration with Screenshop, an AI-based service that finds shoppable items featured in your photo library and creates a custom catalogue of products for you.

These new features mean that users will be able to virtually try on clothes and superimpose them onto their own photos – this could work for anything from shoes, to jewellery, to hats.

You’ll also be able to copy outfits by taking a photo of something you like and immediately finding results online of similar products – allowing a quick way to identify everything you need to complete a ‘look’.

Businesses will also now be able to launch public profiles and list products directly within the app, which Snapchat users can purchase with a simple tap. A nifty feature for those reckless impulse buys we’re all guilty of, eh?

How could AR commerce change the industry?

AR commerce is still technically a niche and not the mainstream. According to eMarketer, 10% of US adults say they’ve used AR to shop specifically, and only 35% said they were at all interested.

While it has yet to catch on with most consumers, AR is steadily gaining traction, particularly with Gen Z social media users. Snap first launched its AR Spectacles five years ago in 2016, when only 7.6% of US social media users said they’d ever tried using it before. Compare that to 2021, where it’s expected to increase to 22.7%.

Big brands including TikTok, Amazon, and Google are also investing heavily into AR, and it’s estimated to be worth £200 billion by 2025. Not too shabby, eh?

We’ve previously chatted to two industry insiders who gave us a full rundown of where the industry is headed, and its clear the future for AR and e-commerce is healthy as can be.

Before long we’ll all be jumping onto our phones and trying out everything virtually before we buy it for real, whether it be shoes, home décor, or even the latest games consoles. For now, we’re limited to Snapchat and our imaginations – but the time’s are steadily shifting.


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