Is Snapchat Getting New E-Commerce Features?

April Davis By April Davis | 12 Apr 2018

Snapchat is rumoured to be investigating commerce functionalities that will allow businesses to sell products directly via its recently launched store, Discover.

Speculation is circling that Snapchat has new commerce features in the works, as the multimedia-messaging app strives to compete with the likes of Facebook.

Since its release in 2011, Snapchat has become a useful tool for online retailers by increasing accessibility to relevant marketing channels. But, up until recently, the social media app has lacked the features necessary to turn it into a direct sales funnel. Recent talk within the industry, however, suggests that this might be about to change.

It’s rumoured that Snapchat has started discussions with a handful of Snapchat Discover publisher channels, to enable businesses to sell products directly through the app in a function that’s expected to be similar to Facebook’s shopping network.

Talk first began circulating back in early 2016, when then Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and Snapchat board member, Joanna Coles told the media that Snapchat was ready to move into the e-commerce space.

“Sweet is a channel on Snapchat that Hearst and Snapchat have done together,” Coles said. “But at some point that will morph into an e-commerce platform so you will be able to buy from it.”

However, at the time of the statement, the social app didn’t have the technology to make the shopping feature a reality, and the company’s plans were vague.

Jump forward to 2018 and sources close to Snapchat have hinted that Snapchat has been testing shopping functions with its Snapchat Discover publishers’ network. According to these publishers, users will potentially be able to swipe up to buy a product from the recently launched store in Discover. Presently, this store only allows users to purchase Snapchat merchandise such as sweatshirts and hats.

At this stage, Snapchat has declined to comment on the record but told Digiday that commerce is a big priority for the company. This was illustrated when Nike became the first brand, other than Snap, to sell a product via Snapchat, with the special pre-release of its Air Jordan III Tinker shoe.

This news comes after Facebook’s algorithm updates earlier this year saw publishers’ content de-prioritised in users’ news feeds, in Mark Zuckerberg’s effort to return Facebook to its social ‘roots’. This has already seen companies like Buzzfeed and The New Yorker take a big hit in terms of referral traffic.

The company’s first step towards putting its advertisers first came last month when the app took the leap into branded content.

“Starting now, Discover publishers are allowed to distribute branded content within the Snap Ads that run in their Publisher Stories,” a Snapchat spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Snapchat’s inevitable move into e-commerce sees the messaging app following in the footsteps of the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Whether or not the company’s move to meet the needs of its publisher and advertising networks will pay off and reap rewards for e-commerce businesses using the app is still unknown.

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