Snapchat Tests Social Commerce Waters

Snap Inc. is currently testing two new advertising tactics — deep linking and auto-fill — to boost its social commerce capabilities.

Deep linking allows marketing agencies to run interactive, direct response ads on Snapchat whereby users can swipe, tap, etc., to view product details and visit the item’s page — hopefully to make a purchase. Along with these new ads, Snapchat is testing out an auto-fill feature that will allow users to fill out payment information automatically with the contact information they gave Snapchat when signing up.

Snapchat still has a bit to go before it catches up to the social media and commerce infrastructure in place in the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, though the Snapchat app interface gives the company a definite edge.

“Snap’s new features make its advertising platform more amenable to the type of direct response advertising that could make it a social commerce player,” said eMarketer analyst Yory Wurmser. “Mobile retail above all is about relevant, compelling images and simplicity.”

Social commerce has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in some regions in the past few years. It’s been taking off in Southeast Asia, for instance, where about 30 percent of all online sales in 2016 occurred via social networks. And some 80 percent of shoppers in Southeast Asia used social media to research items and contact sellers.

Stateside, however, social commerce has been a tougher sell. Just 7 percent of the roughly 287 million internet users use social media for purchases in the U.S., says market research firm GlobalWebIndex. Data from Sumo Heavy puts that figure at 18.2 percent, increase of 8.3 percent in the past six months. Either way, shoppers in the U.S. lag behind other parts of the world.

It seems as though entrenched consumer behavior is likely to blame for the slow adoption rate in the States — but that doesn’t necessarily mean social commerce won’t eventually grab a larger share of online transactions. It might just take awhile. From the looks of it, Snapchat and other social media networks will be well prepped for that day.