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Snapchat’s New AR Features Are an Exciting Prospect for Social Commerce

Image courtesy of Snapchat


Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, and other social technologies have changed e-commerce for good and brands are catching on. These days, consumers can make purchases without leaving their favorite platforms and that’s opened the doors for companies that want to break into social commerce.  

Social commerce has existed for over a decade, but 2020’s e-commerce boom and the subsequent changes to the market pushed the industry to roughly $36 billion in U.S. sales in 2021. As we transition into 2022, social commerce should come as a benefit to both brands and their consumers as the end-to-end experience becomes more personalized and streamlined. 

An increasing number of digital apps and platforms have already integrated social commerce into their user experience, but Snapchat’s updated AR shopping features put them in a unique position in 2022.


Snapchat has a new goal

Snapchat just announced the results of its new “catalog-powered” shopping lens with partners Ulta Beauty and MAC Cosmetics.  

Using augmented reality lenses that each brand could directly link to their product catalogs, Ulta generated roughly $6 million in sales and 30 million product try-ons over the course of a two-week period. MAC Cosmetics saw similar results, boasting a 17-time lift in purchases among women and more than 1.3 million AR-powered try-ons. 

These numbers are incredibly positive, but augmented reality is still fairly new to the consumer market and the partnerships above will set the stage for up-and-coming brands that want to move past traditional marketing and advertising. 

Only a few years ago, digital channels like Snapchat were limited to showcasing two-dimensional product images, but that’s changed with improved AR and camera technology that allows more immersive content. 

The goal? Snapchat wants to transition passive consumers into active shoppers and paying customers. AR gives consumers a three-dimensional view of a product that they can control using bodily gestures and screen interactions—an attempt to bring the products to life. 

According to a new Forrester report, end-to-end experiences will be defined by social commerce in the years to come. “Social commerce describes the customer journey from discovery to exploration to purchase of a product—all within a social media platform. It is one of the buzziest social media topics of 2021… Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok all intensified their focus on social commerce in the last 18 months.”


Social commerce has struck a chord with Gen Z

The social implications of e-commerce on society are increasingly apparent across consumers, but Gen Z and Alphas as overwhelmingly comfortable making purchases on social media and that’s led brands to target them over their older cohorts. 


Forrester found that 29% of consumers under 25 said they’d completed a purchase on a social network without leaving the mobile site or app at least once a week, compared with 12% of consumers ages 45-54. And since Snapchat’s audience is considerably young, the platform should be able to leverage AR features with shoppers who want to experiment with new technology.


Leveraging AR technology

“Augmented reality is changing the way we shop, play, and learn, and transforming how businesses tell their stories and sell their products,” Jeremi Gorman, chief business officer of Snap, said in a statement. “Our revamped AR Shopping Lenses will mean a more engaging experience for our Snapchat community.”

Leveraging AR technology isn’t necessarily accessible for every brand today, but Snapchat’s newest features should inspire hope for up-and-coming retailers. Snapchat’s AR lenses are used more than 6 billion times per day and almost all of them [consumers] are interested in using the features for shopping, according to Snap

Other companies including Pinterest and Shopify have also started 2022 with new and improved social commerce features, but Snapchat will continue to have a leg-up on competitors should it boast similar results throughout 2022 as it did with Ulta Beauty and MAC Cosmetics.