Western social media channels are learning from their Chinese counterparts, morphing into ecosystems combining search, payments, shopping and social activity. Snapchat and Facebook have both released in-app shopping features to target youth on the go, using engaging content as conversion tools.
Visual Search: Inspired by China’s WeChat, Snapchat wants to move beyond video-led social media to become a platform with integrated shopping capabilities. Its latest focus is on turning posted videos into selling opportunities.
Its newest update includes a search function that allows consumers to search for an object by scanning its shape or barcode. Snapchat’s proprietary visual recognition technology communicates with Amazon’s data catalogue, and provides a list of the same or similar items shoppable via one click.
Snapchat also previously collaborated with music-finding app Shazam, enabling consumers to track songs.
AR Commerce: Facebook has introduced augmented reality for its online advertising clients, enabling them to make content “try-able & shoppable”. The new ad format – currently piloting with Michael Kors – will show up on users’ news feeds and within FB Messenger, allowing them to digitally try on and purchase the US luxury brand’s sunglasses through the app.
If the trial is successful, the feature will be rolled out to Instagram and non-ad content as well – all with the goal of bringing in-store experiences to customers’ screens.
Key players have to develop new functions to maintain their allure. Recent findings show that two million US teens are set to quit Facebook for other video-led platforms, including Snapchat (Pew, 2018). Retailers must also evolve fun concepts to convert audiences.