E-commerce major Flipkart has partnered with Snap Inc (Snapchat’s parent entity) to strengthen its augmented reality(AR) capabilities and enable virtual try-on for various product categories.

Announced on the sidelines of ‘Snap in India’ event, this is Snap’s first collaboration with an e-commerce platform in India, where the social media company claims to have touched 100 million monthly users. Under this partnership, Flipkart will integrate Snap’s Camera Kit to its app, enabling customers to virtually try on products or view them in their physical world to make an informed purchase.

Flipkart has announced its AR offering Flipkart Camera in July 2021 and had since introduced AR experiences across large appliances, furniture, beauty and luggage through Flipkart Camera. With this partnership, the company plans to expand the offering to a wider range of products across categories like fashion, wearable technologies and more in the next few months in a more immersive manner.

Talking about how Snapchat’s partnership adds to Flipkart’s existing AR capabilities, Jeyandran Venugopal, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Flipkart told BusinessLine, “To expand the coverage of AR to each vertical requires different capabilities. For example, if you’re using it for eyecare category, the tracking and rendering engine of the platform has to be able to track facial features, triangulate them and track them in real time. Similarly for shoes, watches etc. In order to achieve this, the underlying engines, software tracking software, etc need to have very high fidelity experience. So, those are the kind of things that we will innovate on and hope that camera will become the ubiquitous concept within the e-commerce experience.”

In order to enable AR experience for a product, the company needs to create 3D models for each of these products. Commenting on the number of products that have been enabled for AR experience, Venugopal said the backend pipeline or 3d pipeline for AR does require work and the company will continue to partner with Snap to figure out how to leverage any capabilities that they have there to do it in a more seamless, easier way.

In November 2020, Flipkart has also acquired an augmented reality start-up Scapic, which gives it in-house capabilities to be able to create 3D models by stitching together snapshots of the product from different angles and using computer vision algorithms. The company would also look at intelligent software-based ways to power its 3D pipeline and does not anticipate a need to expand its team for this initiative.

In the initial launch of its AR experience, Flipkart claims to have seen encouraging numbers in terms of the conversion rate on AR enabled products. “The important metric, here, is not just gross conversions but also net conversions, because eventually, it’s about users making a purchase decision right. We have seen fewer returns on AR-enabled products and we do have actually promising data but it is still early days to talk in terms of specific numbers,” Venugopal added.

Adding to this, Nana Murugesan, Managing Director, International Markets, Snap Inc said that Snapchat has seen 94 per cent higher conversion rate in India when consumers are interacting with products in AR, based on the company’s experience of working with some advertisers in the country.

Snap in India claims to have seen an increase of net new advertisers by 70 percent in 2020, from sectors including FMCG, eCommerce, Entertainment, Video streaming, Mobile wallets, Tech OEM’s and more. In the past year, Snap worked with ITC Yippee Noodles, Intel Evo, LG, OnePlus, Spotify, and Swiggy among others.

Further commenting on the revenue potential of this partnership, Murugesan said that the company is currently focused on ensuring that there is a product-market fit and hypergrowth, before going on to think about revenue. He believes that if the company is able to achieve product-market fit and hypergrowth, revenue and monetization are going to come. The company claims to have a robust ecosystem in India with over 200,000 creators growing at a rate of 200 percent year on year.

In addition to the partnership with Flipkart, Snap is also enabling virtual try-ons for Snapchat users through Sugar Cosmetics and MyGlamm who have adopted Snap’s AR shopping beta program to offer virtual beauty and makeup try-on experiences to consumers. Further, the company has also partnered with Zomato, as part of its first Snap Map partnership in India. This partnership will allow Snapchat users to access restaurant information and be able to place food orders right from their personal map on Snapchat.

At its annual Snap in India event, the social media company has also announced a free, early-stage founder-focused program in India called Yellow Tree Bootcamp. This program will bring together experts from Snap and the Indian start-up community to discuss fundraising, operations, growth, including how to leverage tools like Snap Kit and Snapchat Ads Manager to grow.