Snap invests more in AR Shopping with dedicated in-app feature, new tools for retailers – TechCrunch

At Snap’s Partner Summit On Thursday, the Snapchat maker announced a number of new initiatives focused on using its AR technology to make shopping online easier. Most notably, the company is introducing a new in-app destination in Snapchat called “Dress Up” that will feature AR fashion and virtual try-on experiences, and it’s launching tools that will allow retailers to integrate with the technology. Snapchat’s AR assets into their own websites and apps, among other updates designed to make the process of creating AR assets easier.

The company has made progress with AR-powered e-commerce over the past year, having given its computer vision-based “Scan” feature a more prominent spot in the app’s Camera section and the has upgrade with trading abilities. Earlier in 2022, Snap also rolled out support for real-time pricing and product details to enhance its AR shopping lists.

These improvements have resulted in increased consumer engagement with AR commerce, Snap says. Since January 2021, more than 250 million Snapchat users have engaged more than 5 billion times with AR shopping lenses, the company notes.

Today, Snap announced that it will put AR technology more directly into the hands of retailers by allowing them to use Snap’s trial AR technology in their own mobile apps and websites, with Camera for augmented reality purchases.

This AR SDK (software development kit) will bring catalog-powered shopping goals into the retailer’s own product pages to allow their customers to virtually try on their apparel, accessories, shoes and more. At launch, the feature works on iOS and Android apps, but Snap says it will also work on websites “soon”.

Its first global partner to use the technology is Puma, which will allow shoppers to virtually try on its sneakers using camera kit integration. Shoppers would simply point their phone at their feet to see the sneakers they plan to display in an AR view.

Retailers will also have access to new AR image processing technology in Snap’s 3D Asset Manager, which Snap says will make it easier and faster to create augmented reality shopping experiences. Using a web interface, brands will be able to select SKUs for their products and then turn them into Shopping Lenses, allowing them to create new Lenses in seconds, and at no additional cost, Snap claims.

To do this, partners will upload their existing product photographs for the SKUs they sell, which Snap’s technology will then process using a deep learning module that turns them into AR Image assets. This process uses AI to segment the garment from the brand model’s photograph, essentially turning standard photos into AR assets.

These assets can then be used to create new trial lenses that can be used by home buyers who take a full body selfie photo.

Virtual trial using full body images. Picture credits: Instantaneous

The company is also adding new AR Shopping templates in its Lens Web Builder to turn these assets into Lens faster, without needing to understand AR development. Select apparel, eyewear, and footwear partners can try it out in beta today, and Snap will expand the feature later to include furniture and handbags.

Related to that, Snap is giving AR shopping a bigger place in its own consumer app.

Snapchat will introduce a new in-app destination called “Dress Up”, where users can browse and discover new try-on experiences from designers, retailers and fashion brands all in one place. “Dress Up” will first be available in Lens Explorer, but will soon be added to a camera tap in the AR bar.

Snap dress up feature. Picture credits: Instantaneous

Users will be able to return to outfits and other products they’ve loved by accessing a new shopping section from their profile, where they can see items they’ve favourited, recently viewed, and added to a cart.

As another example, Snap says Zenni Optical’s AR lenses have been tried over 60 million times by users, and lenses that use Snap’s “life size” technology have been shown to generate a return on users. 42% higher advertising spend compared to lenses without the feature.

Finally, in the realm of virtual fashion, Snap’s Bitmoji is also getting an update. There are now over a billion of these mini avatars created so far, which people love to dress up with virtual fashion items. Snap says partners of the fashion brand will now be able to drop “Limited Edition” fashion items for Bitmoji exclusively for Snapchat users.