With Amazon launching a social media feature in its app called Spark, they are in the process of changing shopping behavior similar to social shopping in China.
We wonder if Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, et. al. all fell asleep at the eCommerce wheel. It sure seems that way!
While Facebook offers a Facebook store, eCommerce integration requires third party tools and a shopping cart platform. Typically, payments are handled by yet another solution provider, so the entire process is a bit messy and complicated for some merchants.
For the most part, Facebook has done a poor job making people aware of Facebook stores, and there is no real portal or entry point for shopping. Mostly, stores are accessed via inline Facebook ads.
When it comes to Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, etc., the shopping integrations are either non-existent or worse!
One could argue that eBay’s mobile app provides a better social shopping experience than any social media platform does today!
IS IT TOO LATE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS TO CATCH UP?
The barrier of entry just got higher as Amazon put a lot of thought into the Spark project and its first public version is not bad.
It is hard to believe that the management at social media giants was so oblivious to the threat by Amazon. But considering the feet dragging on eCommerce, do they even have anything in the pipeline that can rival Amazon?
Could Amazon’s foray into social media shopping mean Walmart may need to buy a “weaker” social media platform like Snapchat?
Even Snapchat would set Walmart back at least $20 billion! And that is if they act today when it is down nearly 50% from its IPO price and valuation.
DID THEY REALLY NOT SEE THIS COMING?
For years eCommerce observers have wondered when social media will integrate better with eCommerce. Third party listing tools mostly sat idle on the sidelines waiting for anyone to take a real leap into eCommerce.
It seems all the focus by social media platforms was on generating ad-revenue. Snapchat famously claimed they may never make a profit. It almost appears the social media firms were living in denial of the impact a good eCommerce integration would have on their bottom line.
In China, Alibaba’s Taobao immediately embraced the Chinese culture of social shopping by providing a mobile platform that keeps shoppers engaged. The company had the vision to realize that social engagement and shopping go together and increase conversion.
EARLY STEPS BY AMAZON SHOW PROMISE
Amazon Spark maybe an initial implementation and miles away from the social shopping experience Taobao provides today. It represents a huge step forward in social shopping for American consumers.
Spark may still be MVP (Minimum Viable Product), but the company clearly has a social media strategy that even included hiring social media influencers months ago.
Amazon is also pretty smart about releasing Spark on IOS first. Apple owners tend to be younger and technologically affluent providing a fertile public testing ground.