Shoppability is the new black. There’s a trend towards all things being shoppable. We’re talking buy buttons on everything from YouTube videos to Instagram Stories. This isn’t new but is one of many trends that’s been Covid-accelerated as it piggybacks on eCommerce inflections.
Elsewhere – and for similar reasons – we see a separate trend: AR shopping, also known as “camera commerce.” This involves 3D product visualization to virtually try on everything from cosmetics to couches. It also includes visual search to identify and buy physical objects.
Panning back, these two trends – shoppability and camera commerce – are on a collision course. Point your phone at a jacket a friend is wearing using Snap Scan, then buy it right on the spot. This process compresses the purchase funnel through a visually-informed shopping flow.
This is the topic of a recent report from our research arm, ARtillery Intelligence. Entitled The Immersive Commerce Era: AR & Shopping Collide, it breaks down opportunities and happenings at the intersection of social commerce and AR. We’ve excerpted it below.
Picking up where we left off last week in examining TikTok’s AR play, we move on this week to Snap. Its AR success is due to its commitment to the technology. It has internalized the feedback loop of AR platform investment and resulting user engagement and advertising revenue.
This speak’s to AR’s evolving use in product marketing like product try-ons. Back to the theme of this report, the next step is to move further down the purchase funnel to direct consumer action around shoppable AR content. And that’s precisely what Snap is doing.
To that end, Snap’s earlier this year launched Catalog-Powered Lenses. These build on its signature AR lens format with a purpose-built format for shopping. This takes form in Lens Product Cards that can be activated from Snap’s Shopping Lenses to stimulate purchases.
These cards display product information like size, color, price, description, and calls to action. The latter include buy buttons or direct links to a given brand’s eCommerce site. All along the way, the option exists for shoppers to visualize products in 3D using AR lenses.
And it appears to be working. Ulta Beauty reported $6 million in incremental purchases and 30 million+ product try-ons in two weeks. MAC Cosmetics saw 1.3 million try-ons, with a 2.4x lift in brand awareness and a 17x conversion rate over benchmarks.
Beyond these two examples, the 30+ brands in Snap’s catalog-powered lens trials achieved an aggregate 250 million try-ons. Altogether, these shopping interactions saw an average 2.4x higher purchase intent and 14 percent sales lift over benchmarks in video advertising.
Beyond performance metrics, Snap is sweetening the deal for brands to adopt visual shopping. That includes making Shopping Lenses easier to create, including no-code tools and templates. It boasts a two-minute creation process for style and beauty lenses.
Snap is also bringing more analytics to the table. These include real-time AR shopping performance data. This can help brands refine tactics to boost conversions in what is still a new medium. That last part is key, as the AR marketing playbook is still being written.
Speaking of “new medium,” these analytics join an ongoing string of Snap moves to help onboard brands to AR marketing and make it less intimidating. These include its Arcadia AR-focused studio, the AR Lab dedicated agency, and ongoing Lens Studio updates.
Altogether, Snap’s catalog-powered lenses formalize a shopping use case, thus separating it from other lens activities. Those other use cases include whimsical but less practical lenses (think: rainbow vomit). This is an ongoing evolution to evolve lenses into utilities.
Snap calls this a progression from “toy to tool.” The thought is that viral lenses are fun and engaging, but practical tools drive real value. Part of that evolution is Snap Scan. Just like Google Lens, which we examined recently, this lets users identify (and buy) real-world items.
Another key evolution for Snap is to transition from primarily front-facing lenses (selfie fodder) to rear-facing lenses to augment the broader canvas of the physical world. That world-facing perspective opens things up to several more use cases… and monetization opportunities.
It also primes Snap’s longer-term play which is AR glasses. In other words, the move from smartphones to glasses aligns with the move from selfie-facing to world-facing AR. In fact, with AR glasses, all lenses are world-facing as the camera only points in that direction.
All the above is meant to attract more users to shop, and more brands to market themselves. Those factors kick off a virtuous cycle: More lenses mean more engagement… which attracts more developers, which further drives usage and attracts brand advertisers.
We’ll pause there and circle back in the next installment of this series to examine other tech giants establishing strategic positions at the intersection of AR and shopping. Meanwhile, see the full report here.