Snapchat can now link shoppers directly to Amazon in a partnership that could help upend the mobile commerce space, and take on rivals like Instagram and Pinterest.
Snapchat's new visual search feature means users can take photos of products out in the world or in stores and be linked directly to Amazon for price comparisons and purchase. Snapchat's visual search also works by scanning barcodes.
"It's extremely smart for Snap and a potential first step for Amazon in their quests to be the masters of e-commerce," says Noah Mallin, head of experience, content and partnerships at Wavemaker. "It's also a potential disaster for brick-and-mortar retailers who sell products available on Amazon and already have to deal with consumers who research in person and then buy online."
"Some strong capabilities from Amazon are coming together with a pretty dedicated user base from Snapchat," says Will Martin-Gill, chief strategy officer from Kenshoo, a digital advertising technology platform that works with both companies.
Snapchat has 188 million daily active users, and it is the most popular social media among 12- to 17-year-olds in the U.S., according to eMarketer.
Snapchat declined to comment beyond its blog post about the new partnership. Amazon also declined to comment.
Snapchat has been developing a slew of e-commerce features in the app, including shoppable ads, which let brands show a catalog of products for sale in their ads.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, has also stepped up its e-commerce capabilities, recently introducing digital shopping tags that brands can slap on their products when they post photos and videos of them on the app. The virtual price tags lead to the opportunity to buy the products.
"The potential benefits to Snap are obvious," Mallin says. "Instagram has been pushing hard into commerce, and Pinterest and Google have been working to tie visual search into e-commerce, but a partner like Amazon solves a whole host of fulfillment issues for brands and has the potential to be able to match images across many product verticals."