With Pinterest slowly building upon its eCommerce credentials, Amazon, the reigning eCommerce leader, clearly has no intention of letting the social network steal any of its thunder.
This week, at Amazon's re:MARS 2019 conference, the company has announced a new in-app tool called 'StyleSnap', which will enable users to take a photo or upload a screenshot of any item of clothing and the system will find similar product matches, based on image recognition.
As explained by Amazon:
"All you have to do is click the camera icon in the upper right-hand corner of the Amazon App, and select the “StyleSnap” option; then simply upload a photograph or screenshot of a fashion look that you like. StyleSnap will present you with recommendations for similar items on Amazon that match the look in the photo. When providing recommendations, StyleSnap considers a variety of factors such as brand, price range, and customer reviews."
Sounds, and looks, a lot like Pinterest's Lens tool, right? Yeah, it's pretty much the same thing.
But, as they say, imitation is... whatever it is they say. The fact is, everything is open for replication by your competition online, with the only real battles being fought, and won, on scale. If you come up with something another company likes, they can take it, re-frame it - and if they're big enough, dominate by using it.
That's not to say Amazon's StyleSnap is going to 'dominate', I suspect it will actually be a lesser used feature of the Amazon app. But the fact that Amazon has such an option, along with one-click shopping, on a platform most consumers already trust, could give them a leg up on Pinterest, which hasn't yet established the same, seamless purchase flow and process.
The option is also effectively an extension of the system Amazon has in place with Snapchat, through which users can scan in items - Shazam-style - through the Snap camera and get relevant Amazon product matches.
Snapchat started testing the option last September, though we haven't seen many updates since. No doubt Amazon has used that as a learning exercise for how to power its StyleSnap process - and with more than 560 million products listed on its platform, Amazon has a huge range of visual product examples to match with, which could make it a valuable addition. If the function works as advertised.
The announcement once again underlines the challenges of being a smaller player in the market. While Pinterest, which recently launched its IPO, has continued to establish its business tools, there is an inherent risk that the online giants can take an interest, and take over with similar tools and features, if they so wish.
It'll be some time before we see if Amazon's new option takes any attention away from Pinterest, but its another signal of potential concern for the Pin platform, which could limit its growth potential.