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Warby Parker focuses mobile sales vision with Snapchat-exclusive merchandise

Warby Parker heightened the Snapchat monetization stakes by rolling out exclusive merchandise for its followers on the photo-sharing application, suggesting that the cachet of products only available via social media could result in more mobile purchases from younger consumers.

The eyeglasses retailer clued its Snapchat followers in to a new product that was posted exclusively on the social media app this week by teasing users with the phrase, “We made something special just for you!” Warby Parker then uploaded an image of its Haskell eyeglasses in Crystal alongside a unique URL, where consumers could purchase the exact pair and revel in the product’s Snapchat exclusivity.

“Warby Parker is likely introducing this initiative to test the viability of Snapchat as a compelling commerce platform,” said Laura Sossong, senior consultant at Boston Retail Partners. “It’s a win-win, as even if the campaign doesn’t result in significant sales, it will increase social media following and brand exposure to its target market.

“If the social media exclusive spurs additional sales, it is a bonus.”

Shopping on Snapchat
As social media monetization continues to top marketers’ minds, a growing number of retailers are experimenting with ways to convert their social followers into customers with relatively low barriers to entry.

For instance, 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 app (see story).

Warby Parker employed a different approach, choosing to upload a unique URL leading to the product’s page instead of asking followers to take a screenshot of its Snapchat Story.

The Snapchat Story, which was posted on Wednesday, began with the phrase, “Hey Snapchat friends…” superimposed over a yellow background. It then segued to a post saying, “We made something special just for you!”

Warby Parker’s Snapchat followers were privy to an image of the Haskell glasses in Crystal being held in front of a printed background. The subsequent Snap showcased several of the brand’s employees wearing the exclusive glasses.

The sunglasses, which came with silver mirrored lenses, retailed for $95. Mobile users could input the product’s URL into their browsers to purchase a pair.

Less than 24 hours after the live Story was posted, Warby Parker informed consumers that the frames were sold out.

Seamless social transitions
Per an article on TechCrunch, which first reported the news, Warby Parker believes that Snapchat’s stickers, geofilters and lenses facilitate more creative communications with consumers and translate well to commerce opportunities.

Snapchat’s lack of widespread monetization so far will likely enable brands on the photo-sharing app to effectively leverage the novelty surrounding shoppable Snapchats.

Additionally, the notion of Snapchat-exclusive merchandise could resonate strongly with younger consumers, many of whom place individuality above all else when it comes to their fashion choices.

Warby Parker will also roll out branded Snapchat filters to New York and Los Angeles residents on July 23 and 24.

The eyeglasses retailer has been ramping up its mobile commerce initiatives with gusto lately, indicating that many of its target customers are browsing its inventory on their smartphones.

Earlier this summer, Warby Parker attempted to bring more convenience to the eyewear-buying process by introducing its first iOS app, which enables users to select five frames to try on at home – with free shipping – showcasing how retailers can merge physical and digital shopping experiences (see story).

“Retailers have been increasingly testing the waters relating to utilization of social media as a sales channel,” Ms. Sossong said. “Should these measures prove to gain sales traction, it will justify future investment and merchandise offerings that are exclusive to social media platforms.”