Visual product search is, reportedly, about to gain another foothold. A feature in planning by Snapchat — more popular with teens than Facebook — would enable consumers to scan objects and barcodes to be sent to Amazon product listings. Details of the project, named Eagle, were reportedly revealed by an app researcher, and neither Amazon nor Snapchat have offered comment. Snapchat had previously offered an audio search feature via music-identification service Shazam.
“The ability to identify purchaseable objects or scan barcodes could turn Snapchat, which some view as a teen toy, into more of a utility,” the report said.
The report about the possibility of Snapchat enabling visual search for Amazon product listings sent Snapchat’s stock price up abut 2 percent on Monday (July 9). MarketWatch said, “Should Snap work out a deal with Amazon to get paid for affiliate referrals to the eCommerce giant, it could add another source of revenue for the California-based company.”
The Snapchat feature would stand as part of the growing trend of visual product search. For instance, Pinterest and Target previously announced a partnership that has the retail chain integrating Pinterest’s visual search technology, Lens, into Target’s mobile app and desktop website (though the mobile rollout will precede the desktop rollout). That collaboration marked the first integration of Lens into a retailer’s mobile shopping app.
The idea is to enable Target shoppers, with Lens, to click a photo of any product and use visual search to find similar or matching items on sale at Target. Pinterest, through the legions of Target shoppers, can see the retailer’s ad spend on its site increase as part of a connected effort to drive more mobile shoppers to the company’s digital channels, such as the Target app.
Meanwhile, eBay has its own visual search tools. With Find It On eBay, if one finds an item on any social platform — such as Facebook — or while browsing their favorite blog or website, they can simply “share” the image with eBay and the retailer’s mobile app will find similar listings. And, with eBay’s Image Search, users can simply click on the camera button and take a photo or use an existing photo from their camera roll; eBay will then display listings for items that are a close match or similar to what the user wants to buy.
For Snapchat, the code that reportedly supports the visual search feature does not describe exactly how the tool would work. However, it does list “the ability to surface ‘sellers’ and ‘reviews,’ ‘copy URL’ of a product, and ‘share’ or ‘send product’ to friends — likely via Snap messages or Snapchat Stories. In characteristic cool kid teenspeak, an error message for ‘product not found’ reads ‘Bummer, we didn’t catch that!’”
The emerging Snapchat feature, in fact, might represent a direct challenge to Pinterest Lens. And Snapchat, in building this feature, might be trying to step further into the world of contextual commerce, a phrase that refers to selling products to consumers in specific settings, including on social media.
“Beyond shopping,” the report said, a new visual product search feature “could let Snapchat users find Stories that contain the same object they’re snapping.”
According to the report, the Snapchat visual search tool could involve the company’s “contact cards,” which were introduced in 2017 and enable consumers to pull up such data as business contact info, restaurant reservations, movie tickets, Ubers or Lyfts and more. Surfacing within Snapchat, a context card of details about ownable objects might be the first step to getting users to buy them … and advertisers to pay Snap to promote them.