The present model of ecommerce was built on text. Of course, we know that it has many limitations. If you see a product but you cannot figure out the name or how to describe it, you would be out of luck. Never take for granted that it requires a certain level of skill to design search queries. So, the news that Snapchat is moving into the space, to use visuals to drive and anchor the search is interesting. Simply, you can visually search for most things and that will help the discovery process at scale. This is visual commerce (vCommerce) at infancy when ecommerce integrates visuals over text-based descriptions.
Users can use Snapchat’s camera to scan a physical object or barcode, which brings up a card showing that item and similar ones along with their title, price, thumbnail image, average review score and Prime availability. When they tap on one, they’ll be sent to Amazon’s app or site to buy it. Snapchat determines if you’re scanning a song, QR Snapcode or object, and then Amazon’s machine vision tech recognizes logos, artwork, package covers or other unique identifying marks to find the product. It’s rolling out to a small percentage of U.S. users first before Snap considers other countries.
This is very fascinating but it would be a long time before it can find applications in many things we use in Africa. Our main challenge is that our products, usually in open markets, are not barcoded, making them difficult to be “tagged”. But if we do fix that, this could be a solution for our ecommerce companies: when you have a largely big customer base with digital literacy issues, improving product discovery could be catalytic.
Yes, the lady sees the shoe in a party, and needs one, but the shoe has no name. What does she do? She takes a photo and magically she sees that product in Konga, positioned for her to hit BUY button. That has reduced a huge amount of discovery friction.
Visual Commence is promising indeed and Diamandis in a newsletter explained it clearly.
By pointing your Snapchat camera at a barcode or object and pressing on the camera screen, users are taken to an Amazon link showing them the object or similar ones that can be purchased via Amazon. The idea here is to make it easier to find and buy objects that you either don’t know the name of or find difficult to describe. At a tactical level, this is a boon for Snapchat as it looks to turn around recent losses and keep users engaged.