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Snapchat Is Investing in Shopping App Spring

Another day, another messaging app that wants to explore e-commerce.


Another day, another messaging app that wants to explore e-commerce.

Snapchat, the popular messaging app that is also dabbling in media, is investing in the maker of Spring, a shopping app that launched last year, according to two people familiar with the deal. It’s not clear if the investment, whose size could not be learned, has yet closed. Spring announced a $25 million funding in April that did not include Snapchat. Regulatory filings show that Spring parent company Jello Labs is still open to raising an additional $5.7 million for a total of $30.7 million.

Spokespeople for Snapchat and Spring declined to comment.

The investment could make sense for Snapchat, which added a money transfer feature to its app back in November. That feature lets you pay your friends, but also requires users to connect their debit cards to the app. Building out a shopping experience seems like a plausible step at some point given the fact that some users will already have a card on file.

Snapchat has made a concerted push lately into content around live events. A shopping experience tailored around those events — maybe even tickets — could be intriguing for advertisers.

Snapchat isn’t the first messaging app to show an interest in commerce. In fact, it has been a popular trend of late. Facebook’s Messenger recently added a payments feature, not to mention an update at the end of March that lets users track certain online purchases through the app (and even message back and forth with retailers).

Tango, another U.S.-based messaging service, just added a shopping tab to its app so users can make purchases from Alibaba’s AliExpress and Walmart. The whole concept of shopping within your messaging app stems from WeChat, the dominant messaging service in China that has built out a massive commerce integration that lets its Chinese users do everything from buying an airline ticket to hailing a ride.

This newfound interest in commerce extends to most of the world’s largest social networks, too. Facebook and Twitter are both experimenting with “buy” buttons on their networks, and Pinterest is building a “buy” button of its own.

Spring partners with a wide range of clothing brands and features their products on the shopping app. The products on Spring include some well-known brands such as Zac Posen, as well as Everlane, a J. Crew for Millennials.

The app, whose co-founders include brothers David and Alan Tisch, has positioned itself as a shop-able Instagram, and the app does resemble the clean, image-heavy look of Instagram in several ways. But the challenge Spring faces — which both Instagram and Snapchat do not — is getting enough users to download the app and use it on a regular basis.

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