TECHNOLOGY

Amazon adds a shoppable “Spark” to Prime

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon Prime is getting more social as the online giant looks for yet more ways to entice shoppers to buy.

On Wednesday, the online giant launched Amazon Spark, a new shoppable social media feed for its Prime members. Described as “a place to discover things from people who share your interests,” Spark will help Prime users discover — and shop for — merchandise found across followers’ stories and ideas, according to Amazon’s website.

In a process similar to Instagram or Pinterest, Prime members use Spark to share photos of products they like. While users browse their Spark feed, they can tap on merchandise that inspires them and order that item instantly.

Here’s how it works: When members first visit Spark, they select at least five interests — such as books, style & fashion, food and home decor, among other categories. Using this information, the platform creates a feed of personalized content — including images, text and links to polls — from other Amazon customers with similar interests.

Prime members can shop the feed by tapping on product links or photos that feature a shopping bag icon. Users can also interact with people by commenting or adding an Amazon-provided “smiling” emoji to their posts. To create a post, Prime members just scroll to the top of their feed, where they can share a product or story.

The service is available in the United States on the Amazon app for iPhone.

By giving shoppers a direct link to merchandise, Amazon is creating a seamless experience between Spark and its digital shopping platform. This is easier than social commerce experiences on competitors’s platforms, like Instagram, for example. Here, brands’ Instagram handles are tagged in the photos, but shoppers are not directly connected with specific product pages, according to TechCrunch.

This is not Amazon’s first try at social media. The online giant launched Pulse in February, a service that enables gamers on the video platform to communicate with viewers even when they’re not live-streaming, according to Venture Beat.

In March, the retailer debuted its Influencer Program, which invites social media influencers to earn a fee on any purchases they drive to Amazon by sharing a vanity URL in their posts. The invite-only program is reserved for people with large followings on Instagram, YouTube, and other sites, the report said.

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