Snapchat Gets Visual Product Search

Snap is adding visual product search to Snapchat to let its users identify products just by capturing them with their phone camera, the company announced Monday morningSnapchat’s visual search is being powered by Amazon, and consumers will be able to easily order recognized products through the e-commerce giant.

“We’ll be rolling it out slowly, but we wanted to announce it to everyone at the same time,” the company said in a blog post that also called the new feature a test. “Snapchat has always been the fastest way to communicate, and now it’s the fastest way to shop!”

In addition to recognizing products directly, the app will also allow users to scan bar codes as a way to access product information. Once a product is recognized, Snapchat’s app is going to display a product card with some basic information. Users can then tap on the card to open the Amazon app on their phone, and order it there.

Visual product search isn’t entirely new. Amazon has been offering similar features for its users since 2009, when it first introduced book and CD search within its app. The company subsequently rolled out visual search capabilities for additional items, and now offers this feature for all kinds of products.


In short:

1. It’s not new technology, there are other services that allow you to scan a barcode / product and see shopping results for it. However, no app has ~200M users, that’s where Snapchat wins (for once).

2. Pinterest has been trying to position themselves as the visual e-commerce engine of the internet, so this would probably concern them.

3. While Snap hasn’t commented on how this is monetised, I’d be surprised if there isn’t a referral / affiliate fee involved in the long term for this. Potential way for Snapchat to monetise outside of ads.

4. It seems like too little too late. Interest in Snapchat is waning, usage has dropped, and this feature isn’t enough to attract old users back, or get new users to adopt.

5. Amazon doesn’t enter such partnerships very often, it’s possible that they’ve identified the Snapchat user segment as one that isn’t very active on Amazon, and hence it’s an experiment to see if they can grab a younger audience base from Snapchat.

It’s cool. Just not cool enough for a Snap rebound. Usage will tell.


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