Snapchat Brings Catalogues to AR Shopping Lenses

·3 min read

Social media’s transmogrification into online shopping malls have tech platforms bursting with buying opportunities — and Snapchat just opened the spigot even further.

On Wednesday, Snap Inc. began rolling out an update that ties catalogues to Shopping Lenses, the augmented reality tech that lets people digitally try on makeup, shoes, jackets and more on their phone screens. The integration comes wrapped in an interface designed to make purchasing more straightforward.

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The goal, as with any retail experience, is to make the process of buying products as easy as possible. With the latest change, users can see how an item looks on them, learn more about it and pay for it in just a few taps.

“You can now see key product information and SKU-specific purchase capability, including real-time dynamically updated price and color details,” the company said in the announcement. “This gives Snapchatters all the pertinent product information quickly, as they simply tap on the Lens Product Card to purchase each individual item.”

The tech company sped up a few things on the brands’ side as well. Instantaneous results quickly lets them see which products and promotions are working and which ones aren’t.

“Starting today, our revamped AR Shopping Lenses will mean a more engaging experience for our Snapchat community, and enable a faster, easier way to build Lenses for businesses — directly linking Lenses to existing product catalogues for real-time analytics and R&D about which products resonate with Gen Z and Millennial audiences,” said Jeremi Gorman, chief business officer at Snap Inc.

Another change turbo-charges its Lens Web Builder, a free online tool launched last year to simplify the creation of AR Snapchat lenses for brands. It’s even simpler now, Snap promised, with AR shopping templates and even fewer clicks to the process. Brands can churn them out in as little as two minutes. The tool opens to beauty partners first, but plans are in the works to roll it out to other verticals soon.

In the meantime, brands can try the Shopping Lenses by using the more robust Lens Studio application.

Cosmetics giants have been beta-testing the catalogue-connected AR. According to Snap, Ulta Beauty took an “always-on” AR approach with its trial. The description seems debatable. The Lens Product Card appears as a virtual layer, but tapping on it conjures pretty standard-looking information and checkout pages. However, the beauty retailer did run the catalogue-fueled Shopping Lenses on a continuous basis. The effort led to $6 million in incremental purchases and more than 30 million product try-ons over two weeks.

When MAC Cosmetics tried the lenses, it noted 1.3 million try-ons costing less than 1 cent each, at 0.31 cents. Growth across various focal areas jumped in the multiples, including purchases among female consumers (17 times), brand awareness (2.4 times) and purchase intent (9 times).

The figures aren’t that surprising, considering more than 200 million people use AR on Snapchat daily. In one recent AR try-on beta program spanning more than 30 brands, from beauty to automotive, users virtually tried on products more than 250 million times.

The company pointed to a 2022 global study commissioned by CrowdDNA, which ranked the platform as the top app for “sharing shopping moments,” with 93 percent of its user base interested in AR shopping. In one of its own studies, commissioned with Deloitte, 94 percent said they expected to use AR for shopping as much, if not even more, this year than they did in 2021.

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