Try Before You Buy: Interactive Commerce in Messenger

Facebook announces Camera Effects for Messenger

Today at F8, Facebook announced the release of Camera Effects into the Messenger platform. As part of the launch, Assist partnered with Sephora and Jam3 to bring the power of Facebook’s AR studio to the messaging experience.

By launching Sephora’s Camera Effect on Messenger, users can “try on” 5 pre-populated makeup looks using the camera on their phone in selfie mode. They can take pictures of themselves “wearing” each look and message those images to friends or add them to Facebook Stories. They can also purchase products to re-create the look, or book an appointment for an in-store makeover, all from the Messenger app.

With the new Sephora Virtual Artist feature in our Sephora bot, our clients can virtually try on makeup, purchase the products and book a makeover all within Messenger. We’re thrilled to be one of the first brands to use AR on the Messenger Platform, revolutionizing the Sephora shopping experience with our clients where they are, when they need us, in the most natural conversational way.

Bridget Dolan, SVP of Omni Experiences and Innovation for SEPHORA

Sephora’s Camera Effect builds on the Messenger experience they launched in 2016: helping users book makeovers at any store in North America. Messenger drove an 11% conversion lift over Sephora’s mobile website, allowing users to book makeovers in 5 fewer steps.

Sending customers in-store for makeovers is an important part of Sephora’s acquisition strategy: shoppers can try on makeup products to see what works for them. In the buyer’s decision making journey (from Awareness through to Purchase) it’s an important part of the Consideration phase. With Camera Effects, Sephora effectively brings an in-store try on experience to a user’s phone, allowing them to experiment with different makeup products via Messenger. This is more than just a fun feature I can share with friends: as I try on looks, I’m essentially using my phone to give myself a makeover without having to walk into a Sephora store. Once I’ve decided on my favorite look, I can buy the products within the message thread, or book an appointment for an in-store makeover if I’m not quite ready to purchase.

To date, it’s been challenging to drive buyer Consideration via messaging platforms. As a consumer, I can select an item from a category, or answer questions to find my “perfect gift,” but beyond that my ability to browse or research a product are limited. This presents a challenge to brands driving high-consideration purchases: jewelry, accommodations, or home furnishings for example. In these categories, the buyer’s Consideration phase is longer and more complex, and often includes the following:

  1. Try Before Buy: I want to “experience” the product in context
  2. Repeat Visits: I return to the product or experience multiple times to assess and validate my decision
  3. Solicit Advice: I want input from a family member, friend or advisor

With Camera Effects, Messenger launched an in-thread browsing experience that facilities all 3 of these :

  1. Try Before Buy: I can use the camera to picture that couch inside my living room
  2. Repeat Visits: I can easily and frequently access my conversation and return to the camera from my Messenger app
  3. Solicit Advice: I can share images to get input and advice from advisors or co-decision makers

Introducing the camera into the consumer journey adds context and specificity to help drive Consideration. From the unique contours of the face to the particularity of a room, the camera allows consumers to see how products fit into their lives, making conversion more natural and feasible.

Consider it like a pop-up shop for your product that really hustles — it lives within one of the most popular messaging platforms in the world, and allows people to bring products into their own spaces to visually address the question: “is this right for me?” No new app install required, and purchasing with customer support are offered in-Messenger, so you’ve have a personally relevant end-to-end shopping experience all in one place. Using AR effects in camera drives users from Awareness to Conversion in a seamless and unique to consumer process, propelled by conversation.

From laying out furniture in a way that makes the most of a small space, to finding the best shade of lipstick, to trying on clothes, shoes and accessories, it’s not only important for people to see how physical items would exist in their own world, but also to solicit input from others. This step in the process is addressed in Messenger camera with intuitive built-in video and image sharing.

The integration of the camera into the sales journey unlocks endless opportunities for interactive commerce more broadly.

Consider how buying a poster or framed print becomes more accurate and feasible if you could hold your phone up to a wall to see how the piece would fit, pinch/zoom to find the perfect size for your space and immediately convert that size into a price for purchase. Intuitive UI, AR capabilities, and in-app purchasing make poster shopping easier than ever without unnecessary drilling.

Consider trying on glasses, hats and other accessories that require selfies, without store clerks and random shoppers gazing over while you check yourself out. Removing discomfort and allowing the right amount of privacy in the sales funnel improves the process of consideration, removing blockers and awkwardness that can get in the way of conversion.

AR isn’t just a progression of the camera, it’s an entirely new opportunity for shopping and conversational UI. The context in messaging has evolved and today, it’s at its best with these three key elements in combination:

  • Texttraditionally, the primary form of messaging
  • Camera allowing the user to see themselves with product in their environment
  • AR bringing more realistic context to the experience

When it comes to conversational commerce experiences, a partnership with AR effects is natural. Users are already getting a more organic and reciprocal experience through conversation, driven by consumer needs. As conversational interfaces continue to flourish, more and more questions can be answered in a bot experience. Similarly, AR effects fit right in as users are empowered to see products in context. The exponential possibilities of AR effects enabled by camera integration and the rapid development of conversational AI are a solid match.

Using the camera for AR can propel forward-thinking brand engagement. But, for the process of interaction to leave a mark, collaboration between creative and technology are vital in driving messaging. This has been a hallmark of our partnership with Jam3 — thoughtful strategy to address a brand’s particular needs, with expertise in AR, UX, design and development allow us to elevate universal experiences by delivering a personal takeaway for a user who captures or shares. From ideation to production, creative solutions are essential to making modern experiences like Sephora on Messenger sing.

Assist and Jam3 are excited to continue working together to bring these kinds of experiences to brands, products and shopping experiences all over the world. Reach out to us anytime — we’d love to talk through bringing your sales funnel into the fold.

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Jam3 is a design and experience agency that partners with forward-thinking brands from around the world. To learn more, visit us at