Introducing Shoppable AR: Will Snapchat Enhance Engagement through New Ecommerce Features?


Can a real-life shopping experience be brought to a social platform? Snapchat is currently carrying out the experiment to determine how augmented reality and social ecommerce can come together.

In April 2018, Snapchat announced the introduction of a new feature called Shoppable AR. In essence, Shoppable AR is an enhanced lens that enables the users to interact with the content. Through the new feature, brands can encourage Snapchat users to visit a website, watch a video, install an application or complete a purchase. The native snap commerce platform isn’t used yet for the completion of a sale. Rather, the advertiser is responsible for building a platform that enables effortless interactions with potential customers.

“Obviously, this is a bold effort towards expanding the commercial applications of AR. Social commerce is yet to reach its full potential and projects like Snapchat’s shoppable AR can take it to the next level.”Adriana Blum, Solution Architect at Iflexion

The Effects of Shoppable AR Experiences

Experts believe the new tool can expand the scope of social media commerce experiences. The mainstream consumer is still not making full use of such possibilities. There’s a learning curve linked to mastering shopping on a new platform, and many aren’t ready to go through the additional steps in order to make it happen.

Snapchat has been pushing for a change for some time already.

Previously, the platform gave brands free data for the purpose of assessing ad effectiveness. In addition, Snapchat also launched Lens Studio – a tool aimed at simplifying the process of creating augmented reality lenses.

Evidence suggests that 70 million Snapchat users interact with lenses on a daily basis. The addition of two and three-dimensional AR designs created via the Lens Studio is aimed at boosting effectiveness even further. Allowing agencies to build lenses effortlessly for their customers is expected to bring new advertisers to Snapchat.

The social media platform has been taking active steps in terms of being a pioneer and beating the competition when it comes to augmented reality. The launch of Lens Studio came before Facebook opened its AR platform for developers. Google AR projects and Apple’s AR platform were also announced around the same time.

Driving Customer Engagement Up?

According to an official Snapchat statement, more than half of the U.S. population in the 13 to 34 age range plays with the AR Snapchat lens on a weekly basis. Shoppable lenses that act as direct response ads are capitalizing on this characteristic.

The Adidas shoppable AR lens, image originally published on:

Snapchat branded lenses have been around since 2015 and they’ve been a huge success. Campaigns like the giant taco head by Taco Bell quickly went viral. According to Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol, social engagement is of paramount importance because consumer-driven initiatives are the ones that result in optimal growth. The approach has been highly successful, with the average Snapchat user interacting with the giant taco head snap for an average of 24 seconds.

Shoppable AR lenses are the next generation of Snapchat advertising. The sales loop is much easier to close whenever a call to action is featured. In addition, the creation of Shoppable AR lens does not cost advertisers more than the production of a standard Snapchat lens – a simple call to action button has to be added.

AR lenses were launched with four partners in the very beginning – Adidas, Coty, King (the company behind Candy Crush), and STX (advertising Amy Schumer’s latest film). Snapchat Director of Revenue Product Peter Sellis said these partners would benefit from real, measurable ROI that could come in the form of increased sales, downloads, or opt-ins.

Long-Term Implications of Snapchat’s Shoppable AR Lenses

Sponsored lenses lack the urgency and the engagement level of the shoppable AR experience Snapchat has created today. This is why shoppable AR can be expected to be a big deal that will have long-term implications.

For a start, an advertising campaign can readily be activated post factum in a brand’s most popular lens. Lenses perform much better than Instagram’s face filters and they happen to be one of the best platform characteristics in the aftermath of a disappointing redesign.

The mix of lenses and shopping options creates a hybrid content type that addresses the needs of the contemporary internet user. Traditional advertising is no longer cutting it. People want entertainment and information. They want to laugh and they want to be engaged. The seamless introduction of a commerce experience in the middle of an augmented reality presentation brings together the best of both worlds.

A History of AR Success

Experiments with the commercial applicability of augmented reality aren’t a brand new thing.

Layar Reality Browser is just one example of relying on augmented reality for effective advertising. An application for both Android and iOS devices, this one displays real-time digital information by utilizing the device’s camera to augment reality. Layar also relies on GPS information to retrieve relevant data for the respective user.

The launch of Apple’s ARKit boosted interest in the technology even further. Today, ARKit by Apple is the biggest AR platform in the world, making the technology readily accessible to all brands equipped with iOS devices.

The augmented reality software market is growing, enabling brands to quickly expand their existent campaigns and tap into a huge pool of potential customers. Both the Apple and the Android platforms have played a role in that switch.

The next step will be to apply the capabilities of AR across a range of business operations. One thing is certain – the manner in which companies interact with prospects and customers can be revolutionized through the use of augmented reality.

Quick adoption at the time being will enable brands to jump on the bandwagon before competitors and to craft an innovative image for themselves. Snapchat’s AR lenses are just one example of a potential application. While quick adoption is imperative, it has also become a relatively easy task since all of the required tools for effective AR development and implementation have been provided by the respective platform.

Original source of the image:

By 2020, the virtual and augmented reality markets are expected to reach 162 billion dollars. AR systems are set to drive more growth than augmented reality products, and the U.S. will drive the revenue maximization. Hardware for the exploration of VR is also expected to become more affordable – yet another factor that will contribute to steady adoption.

It’s too early to tell how Snapchat’s AR lenses will perform but based on statistics and current trends, the company is capitalizing on its biggest assets and one of the most prominent technologies today. Chances are that the positive audience reception will continue shaping up the future of such hybrid social commerce experiences.

Featured Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Sumeet Manhas

Sumeet Manhas is a T-Shaped digital marketer, writer and freelancer on Upwork where he talks about digital marketing case studies, tips, techniques, and more. He loves helping startups with digital marketing.

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