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Sephora uncaps new mobile revenue stream via shoppable Snapchats

Sephora is continuing its efforts to tap into new ways of monetizing millennial-friendly mobile platforms, enabling its Snapchat followers to purchase products featured in live stories by taking a screenshot and downloading the ShopStyle application.

The beauty giant, which announced the news on Snapchat last week, invited followers to shop a slew of popular cosmetics featured in its latest story by taking a screenshot of desired items. As a growing number of retailers establish a strong presence on the photo-sharing app, finding new ways to fuel impulse purchases among younger fans and drive additional mobile commerce revenue will likely be top-reaching goals.

“Though the success of Snapchat as a true commerce platform has yet to be proven, we are certain to see rapid exploration of its potential in the near future,” said Laura Sossong, senior consultant at Boston Retail Partners. “Snapchat’s widespread reach and success as a marketing medium makes it a natural avenue for retailers to pursue in furthering their merchandising efforts.”

Unearthing Snapchat’s commerce potential
Snapchat has previously been considered a solely visual marketing platform, on which brands can host impromptu Q&A sessions, take followers behind the scenes of photo shoots and tease consumers with sneak peeks of new products.

However, marketers are already beginning to scheme up ways to monetize the platform, which has reached meteoric popularity among millennials and younger consumers, two highly sought-after demographics.

Snapchat does not allow users to include clickable shopping links in uploaded photos, which has prompted marketers to run into the same obstacle preventing easy monetization on Instagram. Social influencers and brands have adopted affiliate marketing platform LiketoKnowIt as their go-to monetization source, which enables consumers to download the LiketoKnowIt app, favorite a post and receive an email containing purchase links for all items featured in that post.

PopSugar is attempting to fill the same void in the market with its ShopStyle platform, which now contains the Emoticode ecommerce app.

Sephora is one of the premier major retailers taking advantage of this solution, proving its willingness to experiment and innovate within platforms frequented by its target customers.

On its Snapchat account last week, Sephora posted a story informing followers that they can now shop all of its Snaps. The brand asked users to take a screenshot of any of the following showcased products.

Featured items included Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick and NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer.

Sephora then tasked fans with downloading the ShopStyle iOS app and uploading the screenshot of the desired product into the app.

Once consumers upload any screenshot into the ShopStyle app, the platform will pull up the product page for the item, on which users can select a color and size before completing the checkout process on their smartphones.

Implications for marketers
Sephora’s early adoption of shoppable Snapchat will likely place it in higher esteem among mobile-savvy individuals, especially those prone to making impulse purchases on their smartphones. If, for instance, a user discovers she can replenish her NARS concealer by purchasing it through Snapchat, the novelty of the experience may outweigh her desire to visit a Sephora store or shop on the Web site.

Snapchat has also been perceived as a less obvious advertising tool by many consumers, something that could make shoppable Snap stories feel more organic to users.

Ultimately, retailers with massive followings would be well-suited to hop on the shoppable Snapchat bandwagon as soon as possible, especially if they are looking to bolster their mobile revenue.

Sephora has also been innovating within a slew of other commerce-first platforms, laying a strong foundation for its omnichannel marketing efforts.

In the one of the latest signs that Sephora is putting more stock in mobile-enabled services, users of its app can now schedule appointments at nearby locations, a move that follows the launch of a quiz on Kik about users’ in-store interests (see story).

Sephora’s recent debut on messaging app Kik is another reflection of the push towards conversational commerce through chatbots and how to drive sales with one-to-one experiences on mobile that mimic in-store interactions (see story).

“As a new and relatively untested concept, it will be interesting to see consumer response to shoppable Snapchats,” Ms. Sossong said. “The instant, convenient nature of the Snapchat platform will certainly add to its appeal for shoppers inclined to make impulse buys.

“The challenge will be changing consumers’ perception to consider Snapchat as both a social and purchasing destination.”