Amazon Debuts Shoppable Social Platform

New Spark feature in Amazon app offers the missing link between social media and retail.

NORTH AMERICA–Amazon has launched a new, shoppable social media platform on its U.S. iOS app that lets consumers connect with each other, discover new products and then buy those products immediately.

I know what you’re thinking, does the world really need another social media platform? Turns out the answer is yes, as Amazon Spark provides a critical link between consumers and retail that is lacking on other sites.

In 2014, to combat this exact “pain point,” Instagram, which doesn’t even allow links in posts, rolled out Like2Buy, a plug-in for retailers developed by Curalate that generates links to retail sites, making Instagram posts shoppable.

Snapchat actually reversed its no-link policy just this month, to combat similar user complaints, and other sites such as Facebook and Pinterest have always allowed hyperlinks in posts. But even still, for retailers and brand owners, turning user-generated content into hard sales has been a tough nut to crack.

Enter Amazon Spark, described as a “cross between Instagram and Pinterest with a touch of e-commerce,” which solves that problem, albeit for one retailer specifically.

U.S. Amazon Prime customers who have Apple iOS devices can find Spark in the Programs and Features section of the existing “Amazon” app, where they indicate their interests to generate a feed of personalized content from other Amazon customers.

Customers can then purchase items they see in the photos in their feed by simply tapping on the product link in the image, which will take them the product in the Amazon Marketplace.

In a nod to traditional social media, customers can also get feedback on products from other shoppers in the app, and respond to content with “smiles.”

To give the platform an initial content boost, Amazon has invited publishers, including paid influencers and bloggers, to post on Spark.

No word yet on whether or when the platform will roll out to other devices or regions.

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