Online retailer Revolve is hoping that a string of numbers and letters will make it easier for its Snapchat and Instagram followers to find the dresses, boots, coats and jewelry featured in their stories and posts.
Revolve “style codes,” unique product identifiers equivalent to a SKU number, can be typed into the retailer’s site or Googled, leading shoppers straight to the item’s product page. On Snapchat, Revolve’s stories frequently center around the adventures of a model, seen running from photoshoot to Manhattan lunch to Hamptons party, wearing Revolve head to toe. In still and video shots that best show off her outfit, Revolve will match the style code to each item worn. The result can be seen below.
On Instagram, where Revolve has 1.2 million followers, it frequently includes the style code in the caption of product posts, sidestepping a third-party Instagram curator like Like2Buy or using the lone hyperlink in the bio field to shop the feed elsewhere. Most often, the style codes can be found in posts featuring celebrities or influencers wearing a Revolve item.
Revolve’s vp of brand marketing Raissa Gerona said that style-code posts are chosen carefully based on inventory and how hot a brand or trend is, and then they’re sprinkled throughout the week.
“We’re praying every day for a direct way to shop Instagram or Snapchat,” said Gerona. “But, for now, we just want to make it easy to shop without coming off as salesy. We are a retailer at the end of the day, though, so it’s all about getting the product into our customers’ hands.”
Gerona said that when a product is listed with its style code, it appears on the Revolve’s best-seller list the next day. She also said that engagement on Instagram and Snapchat surges when style codes accompany a post. Other retailers have used Snapchat screenshot behavior to drive engagement in the past, by asking followers to capture a screenshot of their favorite pattern or lipstick shade.
While it’s not a perfect end-to-end tool for selling on Instagram or Snapchat — users still have to take the time to screenshot, jot down or memorize a code of random numbers and letters, then search for the item — it’s one of the more user-friendly ways to drive sales of a particular product on the platforms, according to social analytics company Dash Hudson CEO Thomas Rankin.
“Moving away from a more aggressive ‘shop now’ approach, and getting people engaged with good content and a simple way to find the product gets results,” said Rankin. “It’s a strategy that actually takes into account how people scroll through their feeds. It’s good that it’s not overly salesy.”
Revolve isn’t the first company to deploy a code to make social shopping easier. In June, PopSugar CEO Brian Sugar built a social e-commerce app called Emoticode, a Snapchat “companion app” that stores the screenshots users take of brands’ and influencers’ Emoticode URLs, which are URLs disguised by a combination of the ghost emoji, rocket ship emoji and numbers and letters. When they want to go shop, Emoticode stores the screenshots and translates the URLs into clickable links.
But Emoticode is forcing Snapchat and Instagram users to learn a new behavior — recognizing the ghost-rocket ship combination as a cue to screenshot — while Revolve is tacking on the style code to its existing content. They don’t look cute, but most people realize how to recognize a SKU number.
“What Revolve is doing is taking advantage of existing user behavior — people will take screenshots of things that they like and want to remember,” said Rankin.