Snapchat to Move into E-Commerce

By Julian Thumm | 22 Feb 2016

A Snapchat board member has stated that shopping will soon be coming to the social media platform, with Snapchat looking to get in on social commerce.

Social media platform Snapchat has confirmed that it is developing its own e-commerce platform. Speaking at a Re/code conference last week, Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan and Snapchat board member, confirmed that the Snapchat start moving 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.”

Coles did qualify the statement, however, adding that the technology is not yet developed to be able to do what they want.

Details regarding any plan to launch an e-commerce platform through Snapchat are vague at this stage and Snapchat has not yet commented on Coles’ statement. However, the announcement is not surprising, with all major social media platforms rolling out some sort of e-commerce service over the past few years.

Prior to Coles’ statement, Snapchat had already been making tentative moves in the e-commerce direction. In late 2014, Snapchat unveiled Snapcash — a payment feature that allows users to send money to and receive money from each other through the app. According to Re/code, some in the industry see Snapcash as facilitating Snapchat’s entry to the e-commerce space through the acquisition of users’ payment details.

In mid-2015, Snapchat made another step in the e-commerce direction, investing in Spring, a mobile fashion shopping app that positioned itself as the shop-able Instagram (before Instagram was shop-able).

Snapchat’s inevitable move into e-commerce sees the messaging app following in the footsteps of the other major social media platforms. Late last year, Facebook started testing a targeted shopping feed, and Instagram rolled out its Shop Now buttons. Pinterest also launched a dedicated shopping page and buy buttons last year. Despite the questions about Twitter’s future, it also rolled out buy buttons and product pages late last year, looking to cash in on social commerce.

There are some questions around the Snapchat’s functionality and whether or not it would really lend itself to e-commerce. Since videos and messages only last for a short period, brands selling through Snapchat would need to capitalise on impulse purchasing.

Regardless of questions of functionality and whether Snapchat users are in the mind to purchase, the messaging app does open up a massive (mostly) millennial demographic (of more than 100 million users) to brands savvy enough to tap in. Furthermore, despite Snapchat following the other social media platforms, social commerce is only just getting started and currently accounts for a very small proportion of online sales. This means that Snapchat is still in a good position to cash in on social commerce when/if it takes off.



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