Recognising the major influence of social media within the retail landscape, coupled with the desire for more intuitive e-commerce experiences, UK-based product discovery app ASAP 54's tech update enables consumers to shop directly via imagery posted on Instagram.
Using advanced image recognition technology, ASAP 54 not only allows users to take a photo of an item they like with their smartphone to find similar product suggestions (see Image Recognition E-Tail Apps for more examples), but also lets them connect to their Instagram account to shop for items via their own Instagram images, or the pictures they've liked on the platform. For brands, this of course doesn't guarantee their products will surface (as yet, image recognition isn't advanced enough to pinpoint exact brands – just the most similar items). However, participation will increase the chances of a connection.
To make the search process more creative, users can also upload pictures of their surroundings or preferred landscapes (such as sunset or cityscape) to find products inspired by the images' colours and textures. If they still can't find the product they're looking for, virtual personal stylists are also on hand to give them advice within 24 hours.
To complete the transaction, consumers are redirected to individual retailers' e-commerce sites, but the process is all contained within an in-app browser, so there is no need to exit the app. Current retailers partnering with ASAP 54 include US fashion brand J. Crew, US department store Barney's and British fast-fashion giant Topshop.
Meanwhile, Instagram itself is also working to redress its lack of directly clickable links with the announcement that it is now able to host click-through ads. Until now, brands have turned for help to third-party tools such as LiketoKnow.it or Paytagz in order to drive traffic to their e-commerce stores (see our report Instagram for Retail Brands). Now, they will be able to upload a series of swipeable images (referred to as 'carousel ads' by Instagram) accompanied by a 'Learn More' button that will redirect users straight to their sites. Those who are not interested in the ad will be able to simply scroll past it in their feed.
For more on converting social media engagement into sales, see The Social Media Sell, Social Media Seduction and Social Media for the Luxury Sector. See also Start-Pause-Go: Retail in Hyper-Flow, part of the Roaming Retail Industry Trend.