3 Products Accelerating Shoppability

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As we recently examined, Shoppability is the new black. This is the trend towards everything being shoppable. We’re talking buy buttons on everything from YouTube videos to Instagram Stories. It isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon but is one of the many trends that Covid has accelerated.

Elsewhere – and for similar reasons – we’re seeing a separate e-commerce trend: visual commerce. This takes form in product visualization and visual search. The former lets you try on everything from shoes to lipstick to couches using AR lenses. The latter identifies things you point your phone at.

Panning back, these macro trends – shoppability and visual commerce – are on a collision course. Point your phone at a new jacket a friend is wearing using Google Lens or Snap Scan, then buy it right on the spot. It compresses the purchase funnel through a visually informed decision flow.

All of the above is well underway but still needs development in capability and cultural acclimation. So to continue the narrative, we’ve assembled three more examples of shoppable platforms. This time, we’re focusing specifically on the one-two punch of visual commerce and transactional endpoints.

Shoppability is the New Black

1. Snap

Snap’s latest move is “catalog-powered” lenses. These build on its signature AR lens format with a purpose-built format for shopping. They take form in new Lens Product Cards that can be activated from Snap’s existing Shopping Lenses in order to stimulate shopping.

These cards display product information like size and color variants, price, product description, and calls to action. The latter can include buy buttons or direct links to a given brand’s ecommerce site. And all along the shopping flow, the option exists to activate the camera to try on items.

On the other end of the equation, Snap is sweetening the deal for brands to get involved in visual shopping. That includes making Shopping Lenses easier to create with no-code tools and templates in its Lens Studio. It now boasts a two-minute creation process for style and beauty lenses.

Snap is also bringing more analytics to the table. This includes real-time AR shopping performance data for a given lens. This can help brands refine tactics to boost conversions in this new medium. It can also be a sort of virtual (cheaper) test marketing channel to inform product directions.

And it seems to be working. Trial partner Ulta Beauty reports $6 million in incremental purchases and more than 30 million product try-ons in a two-week period. MAC cosmetics saw 1.3 million try-ons, with a 2.4x lift in brand awareness and a 17x conversion rate over benchmarks.

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2. Shopify

Shopify is one of the original innovators in the shoppability movement. It has democratized e-commerce by making it easier for anyone to have a storefront. Beyond just a “destination,” it has struck deals with everyone from Walmart to TikTok to let merchants amplify their wares in well-traveled places.

Now it’s making big bets that visually rich shopping will become table stakes and the next big retention hook for online merchants. Inspired partly by the IRL-deprived Covid era, it wants its merchants to use tools like AR to offer their online shoppers more product dimension and confidence.

Specifically, Shopify now lets merchants launch 3D and AR versions of their products. To define those modalities, 3D involves zooming and spinning a given product on your desktop, while AR activates the camera to do the same thing in your physical space (ideal for cosmetics and couches).

Some of the benefits include IRL dimension and buyer confidence. And the numbers bear that out. Shopify has reported that merchants who have integrated 3D shopping have experienced 94% greater conversions. It’s also been known to reduce returns – a big merchant pain point.

While though these benefits are evident, it’s easier said than done to execute 3D and AR shopping, especially for tech-illiterate and time-starved SMBs. For example, one major bottleneck is all the moving parts required for creating 3D models of product catalogs, including color and size variants.

This is where Shopify DNA and penchant towards democratization comes in. According to Inc. magazine, Shopify has begun working with AR platform Poplar Studio (via its third-party app marketplace) to offer an easy way for merchants to capture and process 3D scans using only a smartphone.

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3. Pinterest

Pinterest is the original visual shopping play. Its latest feature brings AR to furniture. Shoppers can see what furniture and other home decor looks like in their space. This builds on Pinterest’s existing Lens Camera feature and is available for 80,000 shoppable pins from brand partners like Crate & Barrel and West Elm.

To use the feature, shoppers click on supported pins then choose “Try in your Space.” This activates the camera so they can point at a desired location and see what the item looks like in their space. To purchase the item, they can click the pin again to be funneled to a checkout page on the retailer’s site.

This follows AR try-on features from IKEA, Amazon, Wayfair, and Houzz. It also follows Pinterest’s other moves in AR, including beauty products such as cosmetics try-ons for 14,000 shoppable pins. Whether it’s cosmetics or couches, it’s all about turning inspiration (Pinterest’s jam) into purchase.

Stepping back and looking at the progression of cosmetics to couches, this aligns with a key trend in visual shopping. As seen in Snap’s Shopping Lens evolution, it’s about moving from the front-facing camera (selfies) to the rear-facing camera. The latter augments the broader canvas of the physical world.

That evolution is important because it expands the use cases and product categories for AR shopping. Rather than the range of products that can go on one’s face (lipstick, sunglasses, etc.), this flavor of visual shopping can extend to everything from cars to coffee makers. And monetization expands with it.

Speaking of which, Pinterest isn’t charging its retail partners for transactions or affiliate revenue. It’s simply adding the feature to boost usage and app stickiness and to show more value to brands. The latter is meant to hook them in as advertisers who double down on promoted pins – a long game.

So there you have it, 3 shopping innovators operating at the intersection of visual shopping and shoppability. We’ll keep watching and reporting back as shoppability and visual commerce collide.

Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local, and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at Localogy.com