Snapchat partners Amazon for visual search

Snapchat will allow users to search for items they photograph with their smartphones on Amazon's online marketplace in the latest advance of image recognition technology into e-commerce.

The social media app, popular with millennials and younger generation Z users for its novelty photo and chat features, announced that the Visual Search feature would be available for users to test from this week.

Users will need to open the Snapchat app, point their phone camera at an item or bar code and the app will trigger an Amazon card with a link to the product or an equivalent item on its online marketplace.

The link up with Amazon, which lays the groundwork for a potential affiliate deal between the social media app and ecommerce giant, could enable Snapchat to follow in the footsteps of rival social media apps Instagram and Facebook as they seek to monetize the potential of linking retail content to online marketplaces.

The visual product search feature was first reported earlier this year as Snapchat sought a way to differentiate the image-focussed social media platform from its rivals.

The feature being rolled out this week is designed to test the capabilities of the Snapchat camera and gather feedback on how well it identifies products through its search technology.

A statement posted to Snapchat’s website read: “Beginning this week, we're testing a new way to search for products on Amazon right from the Snapchat camera.

“We'll be rolling it out slowly, but we wanted to announce it to everyone at the same time,” it said.

It is not yet known if the technology underlying the visual search capability has been developed by Snap or Amazon.

The announcement comes as Instagram launched a “shopping” tags feature linking users directly to shopping websites and was recently reported to be planning a standalone app dedicated to shopping.

Rival photo-based site Pinterest also links users to online shopping opportunities via its “Shop the Look” pins.

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