Verishop has become the latest fashion purveyor to explore Snapchat Minis, an offering from the social video app that brings snack-size, third-party app features to the platform, Verishop chief executive officer and cofounder Imran Khan told WWD.
Introduced last year, the feature paved the way for a select group of experiences within the Snapchat app, with 11 of them ranging from movie tickets to voter registration. Verishop makes one dozen and with the launch, it aims to expand its reach with a shopping model designed for Snapchatters.
“We knew that, while the last two decades of shopping innovation was on the back end, in terms of infrastructure, the next two decades of innovation will be on the front end,” he said, “on discovery.”
The Mini is focused on discovery in a distinct way, with 10 “moods” that Verishop believes will resonate for Snapchat users, with names like “The Flirt,” “Cottagecore,” “Free Spirited,” “Dark Academia” and others, denoting themes or aesthetics like boho and goth. People can pick their mood that day, then click to see and purchase curated beauty and fashion products. The goal is to offer something like an online version of window shopping for independent and direct-to-consumer brands.
The approach is unique, as the moods aren’t available on the Verishop primary platform. That perhaps distinguishes it from Poshmark, whose own Mini earlier this month acted more as an introduction to its signature Posh Parties and full-product catalogue.
Adding to the window-shopping feel, consumers can also get their friends’ opinions on products as they browse. It’s the truly social aspect of real-world shopping, and it’s been strangely missing from social commerce.
Snap seemed to acknowledge that when it revealed plans to make shopping more social at its Partner Summit in May. In some ways, the Verishop Mini looks like a follow-up to those intentions.
“Instead of having to balance out the multiple applications to copy and paste items they might find in the Verishop app, we can bring that right into chat,” explained Alston Cheek, director of platform partnerships at Snap Inc.
“We can really invent new ways, as in the case of what we’re doing with Verishop, to add a social layer into shopping, and invent new ways to shop with your friends,” Cheek said.
With 280 million daily active users, chances are very good that people will have at least some personal contacts inside the app.
This aspect has a lot of potential, and it arrives during a time of accelerated online shopping. But instead of rushing features to take advantage of that, which could lead to a buggy experience, Snap is working directly and “deliberately” with partners, Cheek added. That’s why there haven’t been more of them to date.
But, he said, the company aims to make the tools more open in the future, as well as integrate other features, such as augmented reality try-ons.
Even in their current state, Snap seems pleased with the traction so far. In the first month, more than 5 million Snapchatters used the Headspace Mini and more than 2 million used Givingli to design digital Valentine’s Day cards, according to the tech company. Meanwhile, the TurboVote Mini helped a whopping 30 million users learn about the election and more than 1 million with voter registration.
Numbers like that would surely thrill Verishop’s Khan. And as Snap’s former chief strategy officer, he understands the tech company’s priorities and vision, and how it would line up with his own.
The three-year-old start-up spent its first two years focusing on establishing its infrastructure and business. When Minis were unveiled in June 2020, it looked like a way for the business to spread its wings. “We wanted to make sure that the innovation happens on top of the experience that you already love. And so on year two, we were ready to extend our platform,” said Khan.
So it began working with Snap, as well as others, including Elle magazine in a partnership for a curated beauty collection. It also dove deeper into its own tech development.
“This last six months has been incredible for us in terms of rolling out innovation, right? We launched content — if you download our app, you will see content feeds, and we built visuals, computer vision to recognize other content and match them with product,” Khan continued. “We launched livestreaming. We now have video reviews. You can go to our site and look at all the past livestreaming, and we cut them and created mini clips of short videos. And we do that automatically. These are not manually done. And now we’re launching Snap Minis.”
Verishop also created new augmented reality filters for Snapchat users. One allows them to virtually try on lip oils from clean beauty brand Kosas, while another features sunglasses from Fifth & Ninth.
Right now, the AR lenses are separate from the Mini. But, as Cheek indicated, it may not be for long, and it may not be just for accessories and beauty products. Snap has been pushing very hard to make realistic apparel try-ons a reality, thanks to its work with virtual cloth simulation and 3D body mesh that map the human form and movement.