Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer and marketplace, has recently made efforts to enter the world of social commerce. Social commerce refers to the use of social media platforms to facilitate the buying and selling of goods and services.
In the past, Amazon has already been testing various social commerce features on its platform with sometimes more, sometimes less success. Now, the marketplace has launched Inspire, a TikTok-like shopping feed supporting photos and videos.
Let’s take a closer look at the connection between Amazon and social commerce.
In the past, Amazon has also been experimenting with live streaming, allowing users to watch and interact with influencers who showcase and sell products in real-time. These efforts are part of Amazon’s broader push to make its platform more engaging and interactive for users.
One of the key challenges for Amazon in entering the social commerce space is the strong competition from existing players such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. These platforms have already established a significant user base and have built-in tools for product discovery, shopping and even checkout functionalities. Social commerce is becoming more and more attractive for businesses: In 2025, the share of e-commerce done by social commerce should be 17%. And in 2021 alone, 64% of social media users had made a purchase via social commerce, which would represent 2 billion buyers. The potential is therefore enormous.
However, Amazon has a number of advantages that could give it a competitive edge. For one, it has a massive user base of its own, with over 310 million active users worldwide. It also has a highly developed infrastructure for delivery and has been investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve its customer experience and make its platform more intuitive and personalized. This could give it an advantage over its competitors in the social commerce space.
Amazon’s efforts to enter the social commerce market show that the company is looking to expand its reach and tap into new growth opportunities.
Shoppers use a variety of sources when making purchasing decisions. For example, during events like Amazon’s Prime Day, shoppers, especially from Generation Z, turned to social media to find the best deals, rather than trying to find them on Amazon itself. In the US, videos tagged with #primeday2022 on TikTok were viewed 52 million times, up from 30 million. This shows that social media is an important source of inspiration for younger generations. 87% of Generation Z, for example, expects to be inspired by social media for holiday season gifts.
Here comes the other part of the equation: Not only do adults love to shop on Amazon but more than half of the questioned Gen Z in a recent survey named Amazon as their favorite e-commerce site. In the same study, TikTok was their favorite social platform, with a 38% share.
Given that Gen Z likes to shop on Amazon and also spends a lot of time on TikTok, it would be convenient for them to be able to directly buy products from Amazon in a TikTok-like way, no? This would provide an extremely seamless shopping experience for this generation of consumers. Amazon seems to have just found a solution for that!
Amazon has now launched Inspire, an in-app shopping experience that allows customers to discover ideas, explore products, and shop from content created by other customers, influencers, and brands. The experience is similar to TikTok, with a feed of endless photos and videos that shoppers can swipe through. When they see something they like, they can easily purchase it within the app.
Amazon hopes that this new feature will encourage shoppers to spend more time in the Amazon app, even when they are not looking to make a purchase. This is an attempt to address the weakness of most e-commerce websites and apps, which are only used when consumers know they need something. They do not typically browse these apps casually, as they would with social media apps like TikTok. This means that e-commerce is often very transactional and lacks the discovery and browsing experience of physical retail. By adding TikTok-like functionality, Amazon hopes to become a destination for discovery and browsing, rather than just a place to make purchases.
Amazon announced that the shopping feature will initially be available to select customers in the US in December 2022, with a broader rollout to US customers in the following months. Customers in Europe will have to wait for the feature to become available.
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