Snapchat wants to know whether consumers want to shop on its platform.
During the NBA All-Star game activities last weekend Snapchat put that question to the test, giving its users early access to buy the new Air Jordan III Tinker sneaker within the app and with same-day delivery.
The sale marked the first time a sneaker has been sold directly through Snapchat, and the first time a merchant other than Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. has sold merchandise on Snapchat. (Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., on Feb. 1 launched the Snap Store, where consumers can buy Snapchat-branded merchandise).
Here’s how the sale worked:
Snap geofenced the area around the Staples Center, the Los Angeles venue that hosted the All-Star game. That enabled it to give consumers near the arena access to an exclusive Snapcode. Once a consumer unlocked the Snap Code, he could access an exclusive Air Jordan III Tinker presale with same-day delivery. Jordan Brands worked with e-commerce platform Shopify Inc. to facilitate the transaction within the app, and logistics startup Darkstore handled fulfillment.
While the shoes don’t go on sale to the general public until March 24, Nike and its Jordan Brands subsidiary used the All-Star game sale to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Michael Jordan’s iconic 1988 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest dunk in which he jumped from the free throw line to slam the ball into the basket. As part of that celebration, consumers within the geofence also could access a 3-D augmented reality Snapchat Lens featuring the dunk.
Snapchat’s e-commerce efforts are an example of the experimentation going on in social commerce, says Dan Neiweem, co-founder and principal at Avionos, a consultancy.
“There’s still plenty of room for other social sites to grow,” he says. “Right now, we’re figuring out what really impacts social commerce—the social platform or the social influencers—and so far, we’ve seen that the platform wins. Consumers seem to be more influenced to buy from a brand on a social platform than an influencer sharing a product. As Snap furthers its move into the e-commerce space, it will be interesting to see how the brand performs.”
The Air Jordan III Tinker sale is similar to promotions on other social networks that sought to drive impulse buys. For instance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned to Twitter to sell Jameis Winston’s jersey on Twitter minutes after the quarterback was drafted in April 2015.
Social networks, and Snapchat in particular, may be effective at driving impulse buys, Neiweem says. “It’s more difficult for brands to incite impulse purchases online than in a brick-and-mortar setting simply due to general human tendencies,” he says. “However, Snapchat is rooted in very immediate and spontaneous interactions. Take a look at the limited content that people tend to share or the length of time they share it for when using the platform. That usage pattern could quickly translate into e-commerce and result in users making more ‘snap’ decisions in purchasing.”
At least one Shopify executive is bullish on Snapchat’s potential.
“The ability for customers to perform multiple functions of chatting, photo sharing and shopping, all within one social media platform, eliminates any friction and time wasted,” says Satish Kanwar, the e-commerce platform’s vice president of product. “We see this as the future of social commerce.”