The tech industry added rocket fuel to social commerce this week with new updates that bring shopping features to social behemoths Instagram and Snapchat.
The former brought new shopping powers to Instagram Stories and, on Thursday, Snap Inc. launched its own set of software tools, so outside companies — from online services to e-commerce partners — can more tightly plug into the Snapchat network, turning it into more of a platform.
Snap’s big reveal came as a company revealed Snap Kit, a set of APIs (short for application programming interfaces) that allow outside apps to use more of the platform’s features. Developers can provide Snap logins to authenticate sign-ins, support Bitmoji avatars, post Our Stories and Snap Map content within their apps and more.
With Creative Kit, Login Kit, Bitmoji Kit and Story Kit, “Snapchatters can now break the ice on Tinder with their Bitmojis, share an ETA on their order from Postmates with a sticker, watch Stories from their favorite fashion icons on Poshmark, and more,” the company said.
The tools bring new benefits to e-commerce players: “If you think of Snapchat as being the dominant social network for Millennials today —[now,] you can move between the two platforms very quickly and easily, and share in both directions,” said Manish Chandra, founder and chief executive officer of Poshmark, in an interview with WWD.
As a social-selling marketplace, Poshmark is a natural fit as the software kit’s first retail partner. But the retail community at large might see the partnership as a model of what these new Snapchat features can do.
Poshmark users can log in using Snapchat credentials and Bitmojis and, perhaps most importantly, share Poshmark content into Snapchat or the other way around, posting public Snapchat Stories in the marketplace app. The company anticipates full integration and availability to its users in the fourth quarter of this year.
“That’s really the future of shopping, where social and social-shopping start to become one integrated experience,” he said. “In social, amazing conversations are happening back and forth: You say, ‘Hey girl, that looks beautiful on you,’ and the person says, ‘You know, here’s where you can buy it from.’ But you go to shopping, and suddenly there’s a picture of a dress and a description, maybe a review, and it’s like you hit a wall.
“Who do I talk to, what do I do?” he said. “All of these things that I was thinking about are just gone.”
Chandra, a former enterprise software executive, also sees a distinction between Instagram and Snapchat’s offerings, both of which are being linked up with Poshmark. The Facebook-owned Instagram’s new features add shopping to Instagram Stories, but it appears to go in only one way, at least for now.
“Instagram has gone partly in that direction, but they haven’t taken this sort of deep immersive lead,” he said. “What’s amazing about what Snap has done is — even though they started from behind, in terms of integration — they’ve really taken a much more seamless, immersive [path]. They’re talking about a 360-degree experience, and doing it in a way that is still not violating privacy issues, with much more of an opt-in architecture.”
Indeed, Snap spotlighted privacy in its announcement, writing, “Snap Kit was designed to share minimal data — safely, and only with Snapchatters’ explicit permission.” That matters during a time when heightened concerns over user data seems to be reaching maximum froth. Facebook, which has been subject to public and Congressional scrutiny for its practices, knows this all too well.
For Snap, the beleaguered social company hopes such distinctions will bring more partners like Poshmark, as well as users, to its platform.