Amazon encourages product discovery in many ways, including all those customized product lists on the site’s homepage that are based on your search history and wish lists. Now the company is taking a different approach with a new feature called Amazon Spark. Tucked into the “Programs and Features” section of the Amazon iOS app is the Spark social network, in which Prime members can post photos toÂ an Instagram-like feed. Users can tag products available on Amazon so anyone browsing the photo feed can instantly find and buy those items.
The one catch to Spark is that you must be a Prime member to post images to the social network, but any Amazon user can browse the Spark feed. If you want to post to Spark, you first have to set up an account of sorts by choosing five or more things that interest you from a word cloud. These topics range from “books” to “strange finds” to “TV binge-watching” and your choices influence the types of photos you’ll see once you start using Spark.Â Once you confirm a username (by default it’s the name associated with your current Amazon account, but you can change it) the Spark feed populates with posts from other users.
Although Spark is built in to the Amazon iOS app, it looks strikingly like Instagram. Each post hasÂ the user’s circular profile photo at the top, some with “verified” check marks next to their names, a short caption atop the photo, and tags at the bottom. Photos of items for sale on AmazonÂ will have a shopping bag icon at the bottom-right corner, along with the number of products tagged in the picture. you can tap on the photo to see which items are listed, and if you want to see the product’s description, you can tap the link that pops up at the bottom of the screen. You can comment and “smile”â€”Amazon’s version of “like”â€”on any of the photos in the feed as well.
Spark appears to be Amazon’s way of not only encouraging more young people to discover new products on the platform in a way that feels natural to them, but also boosting the social aspect of Amazon as a whole. But products will always be the main focus of any Amazon feature, and Spark certainly integrates “shoppable” tags more efficiently than Instagram. Amazon has the upper hand as it can link directly to products it sells and directly bring customers to that product page when they tap on the link.
Apparel, jewelry, and beauty brands only gained the ability to post shoppable images to Instagram earlier this year, and the process is more indirect. Similarly to Amazon, Instagram has a shopping bag icon on any images that have tagged products. Once tapped, bubbles with tagged product names and prices pop up over the image. You can then tap the bubble to go to an Instagram page with a larger image of the product (different from the original image posted to the retailer’s account) and a more detailed description. If you want to buy the product, you then have to tap the “Shop Now” link next to the price on that secondary page and you’ll be taken to the retailer’s website where you can shop.
Shoppable images aren’t as widespead on Instagram eitherâ€”unless you follow a lot ofÂ retail brands, you likely won’t see a lot of images withÂ the shopping bag icon. On Amazon Spark, everything is integrated back to Amazon’s shopping experience, creating a seamless way to browse photos and shop at the same time. Amazon Spark will likely never become as big as Instagram in terms of a social network, but it could be useful for folksÂ who often want to buy things they see on social media and want an easier way to do so.
from Ars Technica http://ift.tt/2uzp1t7