Snap Inc. (SNAP), the parent company of photo and video sharing app Snapchat, announced Sep. 24 that they were launching Visual Search. The new feature, first announced in Jul. 2018, will allow smartphone cameras to identify products, songs and item barcodes on Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and then link Snapchat users to Amazon product listings.
(See also: Snap Inc. to Launch Gaming Platform This Fall.)
The official Snap site made this announcment on Sep. 24:
Beginning this week, we're testing a new way to search for products on Amazon right from the Snapchat camera... It's super easy to use. Simply point your Snapchat camera at a physical product or barcode, and press and hold on the camera screen to get started.
When the item or barcode is recognized, an Amazon card will appear on-screen, surfacing a link for that product or similar ones available on Amazon. Tap your selection to visit the Amazon App (if you have it installed on your phone) or Amazon.com, where you can complete your purchase or keep browsing.
Snapchat: The Future is Now
We all knew this was coming. Features such as Visual Search have been in the works literally since the dawn of social media, but Snap may now be the dominant player in this market. The concept of taking a picture as a direct delivery system to the merchant finally makes it clear to all how non-subscription social media platforms were planning to monetize. The Snap announcement included a demonstration of how the feature would work:
Deal Could Help SNAP Stave Off FB
Facebook has been called out for copying many of Snapchat's features, most notably within its burgeoning Instagram platform. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's strategy seems to be working, as Instagram's rival Stories now has twice the number of users and is growing six times faster than Snap's application.
A partnership with Amazon would help differentiate Snapchat's platform from social media competitors by diversifying into unique object identification and navigation-related features. It could also provide Snapchat with affiliate bonuses for purchases made on the global e-commerce platform. Many companies such as Wirecutter have been able to stay afloat by relying on this referral revenue from linking to Amazon products. Snapchat lists about 191 million daily users, which could mean big bucks for the company.