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Snapchat moves into e-commerce

News, 22 February 2016

DANA POINT, CA: Social media platform Snapchat currently makes all its revenue from advertising and sponsored content, but one of its senior executives has strongly indicated it will move into e-commerce.

Speaking at Re/code's Code/Media conference last week, Snapchat board member Joanna Coles, who is also editor-in-chief of Hearst-owned Cosmopolitan, suggested users may be able to shop online via Sweet, a Snapchat channel run with Hearst.

"Sweet is a channel on Snapchat that Hearst and Snapchat have done together, and the tagline is 'Love something new every day'," Coles said. "But at some point that will morph into an e-commerce platform so you will be able to buy from it."

She did not go into detail about the technical means by which users would use Snapchat to shop online or when the service would be rolled out, but the image-sharing platform has been steadily introducing new features that hints at its direction of travel.

Its Discovery platform was rolled out in January last year, it offers a payment-transfer service called Snapcash, and the company has also invested in Spring, a shopping app for fashion brands.

Moving from content to e-commerce could be the "next sensible step" and provide Snapchat with an opportunity to attract a wider range of brands, Marketing Week reported.

"Currently the Discovery functionality really only appeals to publishers looking to distribute its content," said Darren Struwig, senior strategist at media agency Born Social.

"The integration of an e-commerce platform would open up a world of opportunities for brands looking to reach the Generation Y consumers," he continued. "But it's not necessarily a move away from its core appeal, as the peer-to-peer messaging would remain the same."

However, Dan Moseley, senior account manager at We Are Social, was more cautious as he pointed to potential difficulties in keeping Snapchat users engaged.

"Consumers tend to go to Snapchat to have a transient entertaining moment and might not be in a mindset to go shopping," he said.

Data sourced from Re/code, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff