Amazon Launches Spark – Social Shopping Coming to America!

Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark on IOS
Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark on IOS
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Over the last few weeks, we have detailed how shopping in China is a social experience. Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace is specifically aimed to take advantage of this Chinese way of eCommerce engagement and shopping.

Just today, we published a story about how Amazon may be developing a messenger app called Anytime that incorporates shopping and communication.

We also know that Amazon’s Twitch video service is receiving much love from the giant eCommerce retailer as well. Amazon can learn a lot about video and content generation from Twitch.

NOW COMES NEWS OF AN INSTAGRAM STYLE SHOPPING ADDITION TO AMAZON’S SHOPPING APP

Today, Amazon announced they are making public an Instagram style social shopping feature called Amazon Spark. Apparently, the retailer has been quietly testing this app feature for months and now released to all U.S. consumers.

Amazon Spark is a feed style social shopping interface. It seems to be a mix of Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest allowing users to post and comment on images and products.

Amazon hopes to keep the social activity on its platform and make shopping a true one-app social experience. No reason to give up that space to others!

MOBILE APP ONLY

Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark Select Interests
Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark Select Interests

Like Taobao’s social app for the Chinese market, Amazon Spark is part of the Amazon mobile shopping app.

To get started, the user navigates to the “Programs & Features” section of the app and selects at least five interests.

The app will create a customized feed based on the user’s selected interests. The interests are not exact duplicates of Amazon categories, but are very close, providing the best possible selection of products and posts.

Users may also enable notifications to keep up to date on the latest products and posts from Amazon Spark.

THE AMAZON SPARK FEED

The Amazon Spark feed is a combination of user generated posts about products, product reviews, and images. Images are more prevalent in fashion categories, which gives the user the Instagram look and feel.

One unique feature is that shoppers maybe presented with a lifestyle photo that includes clickable dots. When the user clicks on a dot, the app enlarges the dot and selects the product (bottom of screen) for easy shopping.

Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark Lifestyle Image Product Selection
Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark Lifestyle Image Product Selection

Because products shown are directly connected to Amazon’s inventory, the app will only display products in stock. So unlike “regular” shopping where it is possible to see out of stock items, the app removes this possibility.

AMAZON SPARK ENTHUSIASTS

With the Amazon Spark app, Amazon is also introducing Amazon Spark Enthusiasts.

Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Enthusiast Posting
Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Enthusiast Posting

These are users that add content to the feed with posts, images, and reviews. Later in the month, Top Reviewers will be able to add their existing reviews to the Spark feed as well.

One caveat about being an Amazon Spark Enthusiast is that you must be a Prime member. There is also a hint of the possibility to earn income from providing content to Amazon Spark. However, nothing on this front has been confirmed yet.

Right now Amazon is focusing on creating more user generated and curated content to grow the Amazon Spark feed.

The company already has sponsored content in the feed (noted with a small byline of “sponsored”), providing another marketing opportunity for third party sellers.

AMAZON INFLUENCERS AND SOCIAL SHOPPING

Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark Posting Created with Echo
Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark Posting Created with Echo

As we reported previously, Amazon was hiring social media influencers to spread the word about its products and offerings on social media platforms.

Most influencers earn a commission based on sales. If Amazon Spark adds a monetization feature to posts, this would further explain why Amazon was so keen to get top influencers on their side.

These people know how to create content and make sales. So turning the influencers loose on the Amazon Spark platform should drive traffic and sales from within the Amazon ecosystem. A huge win for Amazon!

Since Amazon Echo pictures can be added to the Sparks feed, could social media influencers use Echo to highlight products? That appears to be very possible!

AMAZON ANYTIME NOW MAKES EVEN MORE SENSE

Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark "Status" Posting
Image: Richard Meldner | Amazon Spark “Status” Posting

If the rumors are true about Amazon’s Anytime Messenger app, it now makes even more sense. Integrating Amazon Spark with a Messenger platform is a natural extension to social shopping.

The Spark feeds already can look like “Status Update” postings and people may comment on them. Of course, Amazon has experience with video from Twitch, so that could be another expansion of the Amazon Spark social shopping concept.

It does look like Amazon is trying to be cool and create a platform that young Millennials and Gen Z’ers will use.

Maybe brown is not so boring after all 🙂

One final note. Amazon Spark is currently available only on the IOS Amazon Shopping app. An Android and Amazon Fire app should become available soon. Also, it is unclear if non-Prime members will gain access to the Amazon Spark feed. While technically out of beta, there is still much work to do and we expect many improvements in short time.

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