Post by Chris Camacho, EVP Global Managing Director
Have you heard of Amazon Spark? Maybe not. It’s Amazon’s own social network that was recently launched for U.S. Prime users.
It’s still an early development for Amazon Spark (news of it only broke on July 18, 2017) but many are wondering what it can bring to the online shopping experience.
What is Amazon Spark?
Amazon Spark is a social network with a difference. Most social networks are focused on building connections and sharing experiences. Amazon Spark’s focus is on showcasing its products to entice users to make a purchase.
The interface is a mixture of Instagram and Pinterest. It lays out products in a grid (like Instagram) and has a discovery engine (like that of Pinterest). However, from an initial observation, it’s lacking the sophistication both these networks have developed.
At the moment, the whole thing feels a little ‘awkward’. Even navigating to it isn’t straight forward. It’s hidden away in the ‘programs and features’ section of the Amazon app. Amazon may have done this on purpose to prevent too many users from jumping on it while it’s still in the launch period. For those who have the determination to seek it out, it’s open for business.
How does Amazon Spark work?
Amazon Spark’s focus is getting users to post images of products they love or find inspiring. The images are of products that are available to buy through Amazon’s online shop. The idea is that when a user comes across an image they like, they click on it. Spark will then highlight the items available for purchase on Amazon.
While this draws consumer attention, it also gives the app an ‘amateur’ feel. In order to see the picture clearly, users have to minimize the product dots used to highlight items for purchase. This could become a tedious task as some images may have multiple dots placed over them (he number of dots depends on how many products are featured in the image).
This clearly shows that Amazon Spark’s emphasis is on pushing its products and not on the user experience. Having to take this step multiple times may agitate some users but others may be happy to put up with it to find the product they want.
As the system is developed, Amazon may remove these product dots or find a way to strike a better balance between product display and user experience.
Additionally, a single post requires that consumers identify any products they want to tag from Amazon’s product catalog, which is fairly straightforward. However, it also requires the consumer to bucket the items into categories manually, which can be time consuming, and as consumer fatigue builds, will likely be inaccurate. The more that Amazon can automate the posting experience, the more likely it will be that consumers will adopt the platform.
Will it turn users into consumers?
A survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 45% of the 22,618 digital buyers they questioned said that social media had influenced their shopping behavior. So, you could view the launch of a shopping social network a logical addition to the Amazon family.
Where Amazon Spark currently falls flat is that most of the posts are sponsored. This makes the posts feel less genuine and trustworthy. This could work against Amazon, as people are more likely to trust reviews and recommendations from people they know instead of strangers.
As the program opens to more users, Amazon is still faced with the challenge of increasing actual users posting product recommendations and reviews. By integrating with the product review system and channeling quality content towards, consumers will be required to convince people they need another social network.
Amazon Spark is a new focus for Amazon. It is entering into the realm of product discovery. The focus on its main platform (Amazon.com) is on satisfying the consumer’s need for buying specific products with ease and speed. This new focus is something we will see more of in the future from Amazon and other online retailers.
To learn more about Amazon Spark, contact Performics today.