Amazon Spark is not something that we expected to be at the top of Amazon’s to do list. But it’s something that the marketplace has apparently prioritized as part of their bid to compete with Facebook. The Ad Network is evolving and needs to provide a better experience than the well-established social advertising platform.
What is Amazon Spark?
Amazon Spark is basically an online hangout. It was inspired by Instagram and has a similar feel to Facebook. It’s a place where online shoppers can meet and talk about similar interests. In addition, Amazon Spark integrates an online feed from which users can shop. Of course an Amazon social network has to include shopping, right? So Amazon Spark is also a product discovery tool. Anyone on Amazon Spark gets a feed of photos and stories that they can click to shop from if they like the featured products.
Amazon Spark was in beta for a few months prior to its mid-July launch last year. During the initial stages, Amazon Spark was only available to US consumers. The feature is also only available on the Amazon iPhone application, like other new marketplace features such as AR View.
Amazon Spark is also similar to the marketplace’s Interesting Finds and My Mix features. They are not linked, but are all part of Amazon’s effort to encouraging product discovery. As shoppers find new and interesting products, especially in a social setting, they are more likely to make an immediate purchase. Along with the drive to launch a social influencer program, Amazon is gearing up to make consumers connect more and faster with Amazon products.
What’s Great About It
With Amazon Spark, shoppers can discuss a wide range of interests. It is an avenue for sharing more than just product reviews, but provides them with a direct route to do so. Apart from sharing experiences, Amazon Spark allows Amazon shoppers to talk shop, right from their Amazon apps. It’s convenient, and right to the point. There’s no need for a supplementary social app to get opinions or share horror stories.
For the company, Amazon Spark is another way to get shoppers to buy more. Being more direct, there is less of a chance that shoppers will lose interest in a product. Instead of waiting for some time to check a product elsewhere, they can simply check the Amazon Spark feed and see what others have to say about it, or ask about it and get responses without exiting the Amazon app. Amazon Spark users are encouraged to post about products they love, which others can then react to with comments and Smiles, the Amazon version of Facebook’s Likes and Favorites.
Amazon wants shoppers to stop navigating away from the marketplace. It’s an important sales tactic for any website to keep users engaged onsite. To keep users on Amazon, the marketplace needed a social channel for shoppers to interact on. Currently, Amazon shoppers are spending time on other networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. They go there to talk about products and to get opinions before making purchases. The goal of Amazon Spark is to create that atmosphere within the app so that shoppers move their social activity and product discussions to the marketplace. This is, after all, the best place for product inspiration to translate directly into a purchase in one click.
Using Amazon Spark on iOS
Amazon Spark is available on the Amazon mobile app under the Programs & Features menu. Before you can get in, you have to provide Amazon with your name and at least five interests. These are basically related to the categories on the marketplace. The basic interests include Books, Music, Technology, Toys & Games, Style & Fashion, Home Décor, and Fitness. There are even other categories like Cats, BBQ, Internet of Things, and TV Bingewatching for those who prefer much more focused content. Amazon Spark will follow these chosen categories and use them to suggest what appears in your feed. After you set you notifications preferences, Amazon Spark will then begin to show you products, photos and ideas that are relevant to those interests.
When you see a photo that contains a product that Amazon sells, you will also see a shopping bag icon to the bottom right of your screen. A number next to the bag shows you how many products on the photo you can buy on Amazon. Click on the bag and you will be taken to an item’s product page. This is much easier than Instagram shopping where you can’t actually get to the product page. In addition, Amazon Spark ensures that the product you like is in stock. If you’re not sure about it, you can start a discussion or create a poll.
Amazon Spark is also set up to be an avenue for leaving informative product reviews. Amazon will reward users who are “Enthusiasts” instead of the old Top reviewer route. These Amazon Spark Enthusiasts will receive a badge that displays when they post or write reviews. Any Amazon Prime member can become an Enthusiast by contributing good content. Non-Prime shoppers can use the Amazon Spark feed, but do not have access to the posting or commenting features. Amazon is obviously targeting Prime members with this hangout, who are more likely to appreciate the direct shopping experience and make more purchases.
Benefits for Users
Amazon Spark is obviously going to bring in more users as it offers valuable information on products. But since this information is user-generated, what do users have to gain by posting more? Amazon Spark could evolve into a robust source of information if users were given a greater incentive than the badge to post good content. Amazon isn’t ready for this, but Spark isn’t going to gain much ground on Instagram and other platforms where users can monetize their contributions.