You could soon use Snapchat to go shopping.
You could soon use Snapchat to go shopping.

Image: brittany herbert/mashable

When you think of Snapchat, you probably think of faceswaps and dancing hot dogs. But you might soon have a new reason to think of the messaging app: Shopping. 

Code unearthed by a developer strongly suggests that Snapchat is readying a new feature that will let users shop on Amazon by pointing their camera at objects around them.

The feature, which was first reported by TechCrunch, is called “Camera Search” in the app’s code. From the text within the code, it sounds like camera search would function similarly to the app’s current Shazam integration.

“Press and hold to identify an object, song, barcode, and more!” reads a snippet of text reportedly lifted from within the app’s code. The search feature would then surface Amazon links, TechCrunch reported, letting you look at product pages and reviews after you scan an item with the camera. 

The idea is similar to Pinterest’s Lens feature, which lets you shop for items by snapping pics with its in-app camera. Google also has a feature called “Lens,” which lets you search by pointing your camera at various types of objects.

A spokesperson for Snap declined to comment, but the fact that the text was found within Snapchat’s Android app suggests the company is at least testing the technology. 

moving into visual search would be a natural next step for the self-described camera company

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Moving into visual search would be a natural next step for the self-described camera company. The app already has some search features, like its song-recognizing abilities, the product of a longtime partnership with Shazam.

And Snap has made several moves over the last two years to make its app more open and searchable. It’s opened up Stories to make publicly-submitted Snaps easier to find throughout the app, and added context cards to surface information about businesses and restaurants that appear in snaps.

But partnering with Amazon could be a particularly lucrative partnership for the company. If it can get its nearly 200 million users to start shopping in its app, Snap could generate some serious cash through affiliate deals.

And Camera Search’s potential isn’t limited to shopping on Amazon. The code also references sharing data with unspecified “other partners.” This could refer to either other companies that have signed on to Snapchat’s Snap Kit developer platform or even other potential retailers.

For Snap, the move into shopping could be an important differentiator from its competitors — just when the company needs it the most. Whereas Instagram announced last month it has passed the 1 billion users mark, Snapchat’s growth has slowed thanks in large part to an unpopular redesign. During its last earnings call, Snap said the app’s redesign had spooked some of its advertisers.

But shopping isn’t the only way Snap is looking to win back users and Wall Street. The company is also reportedly working on a gaming platform, which could also fuel renewed engagement and new revenue opportunities. 

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