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Snap Acquires Vertebrae to Enhance AR Capabilities

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Snap has acquired 3D and AR commerce company Vertebrae in order to expand its services for retail clients. The deal will give the visual social network a leg up from competitors, which have all been attempting to expand and optimize their social commerce offerings. Vertebrae’s entire 50-person team will join Snap, with Vertebrae CEO Vince Cacace reporting to Nima Khajehnouri, VP of Engineering at Snap.

“We’re thrilled to join Snap, where we will strengthen and scale our world class 3D asset platform for retailers and brands,” said Cacace in a statement. “The future of AR commerce is bright, and we’ll continue to make it easy for our partners to create, manage, and deploy AR experiences across all customer touch points.”
It has been a pivotal year for AR, largely due to consumers’ dramatic shift to online browsing and buying. Consumers were hungry for more context around product size, scale and fit — something that they missed from the in-store experience. While initially AR was used out of necessity, more consumers have come to rely on it, making it a key investment for retailers across categories.

In fact, research from Vertebrae showed that the majority of consumers are comfortable using AR technology to help them shop. Additionally, 76% of respondents said that AR helped increase their purchase confidence and 68% are likely or very likely to purchase from brands that offer an AR experience.

A New Competitive Differentiator?

Snap has made a name for itself with its fun and shareworthy filters and activations. Over the years, it has become a partnership source, with companies like Gucci creating digital “products” that users can try on before they buy. While many have argued that these activations are primarily designed to drive brand awareness and social shares, Snap has encouraged AR engagement through the launch of API Lenses, which let retailers and brands connect SKUs in their product category to the AR Lenses available on the Snapchat platform.

 The addition of 3D asset creation as a service from Vertebrae will help more retailers create AR content at scale and activate AR shopping experiences. Its successful partnerships with brands and retailers will also show other companies the tangible value of AR technology. For instance, MOSCOT Eyewear recently saw a 174% revenue lift among shoppers who use its 3D and virtual try-on experiences, which are powered by Vertebrae.

“Virtual try-on allows us to meet customers wherever they are, so they can answer product questions in a real-life context and choose the right frame with confidence,” said Zack Moscot, Chief Design Officer at MOSCOT in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We are seeing great traction across the program: conversion rates have increased 135% for shoppers who engage with the 3D and virtual try-on experiences.”

Snap has been putting an emphasis on helping apparel retailers make their products easily shoppable, both through AR and other mediums. The company acquired size recommendation Fit Analytics in March, and in May rolled out the Screenshop feature that lets users scan a friend’s outfit or their own photos to shop similar looks and receive recommendations from hundreds of brands.

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The use of AR in particular is becoming an integral part of the social commerce experience.

The terms and price of the Vertebrae deal were not disclosed.

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