- Snap Inc., parent company of image-messaging app Snapchat, opened an in-app e-commerce store that sells merchandise inspired by its iconic corporate logo and digital characters such as the dancing hot dog that was a viral sensation last year, according to TechCrunch. With its introduction, the company might be looking to prove Snapchat's potential for in-app commerce to other brands, TechCrunch speculated.
- The Snap Store is found in the app's Discover section. A stuffed Dancing Hot Dog lists for $20, while a hat showing the fiery "streak" fire icon costs $30 — the same price as a Dog Lens T-shirt, among other items.
- Snapchat users can subscribe to the Snap Store in the Discover section to be notified when new items are available. New products will hit the virtual shelves on February 8.
While it's unlikely that Snap will make a game-changing amount of money from the limited-edition merchandise, the struggling social media company does need to develop additional business lines that leverage the loyalty of its user base. Snapchat could conceivably build out this e-commerce platform down the road to earn sales commissions from a wider variety of merchandise, including that offered by other brands, as TechCrunch noted.
For now, the clothing and accessory options will likely serve better as a way to promote the app as people sport the gear and share photos and videos of themselves doing so. Snapchat has jumped the gun on past product offerings such as Spectacles — camera-equipped sunglasses that it has had trouble selling off after an initial wave of interest when they launched in 2016.
The company's efforts to expand into e-commerce likely also reflects the influence of part-owner Tencent, the Chinese internet giant whose market value surged past $500 billion. Tencent, which bought a 12% interest in Snap in November, has demonstrated how a chat app can develop a broader range of services for its fan base.
Snap's jumping into the e-commerce world matches the recent trend of nontraditional brands turning to merchandise to beef up product offerings and attract young consumers. Quick-service restaurants like Taco Bell and KFC have also introduced their own lines of clothing, accessories and novelty gags sold via online hubs and sometimes in retail stores.