Bringing a Spark of life to the social shopping movement: Amazon Spark rises from the grave
What is Amazon Spark? Some form of power service provided by Amazon? Not at all. You would be excused to have never heard of it before though. Quietly launched in 2017, Amazon Spark attempted to expose users to new products they might want on Amazon that they may otherwise never have encountered. This was done by posing it as Amazon’s version of Instagram and Pinterest, where users could post products and ideas and interact with others who shared the same interests using ‘smiles’ and comments. If someone liked the product enough, they could click on the image and would be able to buy it for themselves through a direct link. In theory, this seemed perfect for Amazon due to their highly developed personalised search engine algorithms putting them in a unique position to ensure users saw relevant posts. However, what they appeared to have miscalculated was the social nature of apps like Instagram. Amazon Spark was too money-orientated taking the fun out of sharing anything. With a lack of user generated content and confusion over what the purpose of the app actually was, Spark’s days were numbered. Amazon’s Instagram-inspired feature for Prime members finally fizzled out completely last month.
Or so we thought…
Just as sparks do, Amazon Spark has reignited itself once more into a new feature named #founditonamazon. Like Amazon’s feature Interesting Finds, #founditonamazon will attempt to improve Amazon’s potential as a place to browse for items. Amazon is generally used exclusively for buying specific items in mind such as brands. This makes kooky products harder to be seen on the site as it is difficult to navigate the marketplace to find unique items. Both #founditonamazon and Interesting Finds highlight the hidden gems the marketplace can offer.
Named after a popular social media hashtag trend, #founditonamazon currently focuses purely on women’s clothes and home décor. Arguably, inspiration holds the most influence over the sale of these two categories. Current trends also indicate that keyword searches are becoming increasingly obsolete for more visual categories such as fashion and home décor. Instead searching by image appears to be fast becoming the newest means to improve customer experience online and increase conversion. If this feature becomes more successful than its predecessor as hoped, more categories are certain to be added to #founditonamazon. It seems the marketplace has high hopes for Amazon Spark’s successor as they have already begun the process of moving their original product discovery platform, Interesting Finds to their Gift Finder section. Whereas Interesting Finds will remain a more transactional platform, #founditonamazon will attempt to create a new shopping delivery tool by merging inspiration and discovery with conversion. The platform has a heart button on each image to save favourite images/products to your account and when clicked on, the image immediately sends you to the product’s buy page to improve customer ease.
Amid the images of products and inspirational pictures posted by Amazon customers and sellers, #founditonamazon features lists created by Amazon Influencers. These are social media influencers that Amazon has given their own digital Storefronts to promote products they find on the marketplace. If an Amazon Influencer chooses to highlight your product in one of their lists, then you may receive extra publicity on the #founditonamazon platform without having to post about your products yourself just as you would from general consumers using the social platform.
Amazon Spark may not have been a success in terms of its web-life but it appears that it never was meant to last as it was barely advertised at all during the 2 years it was active. Last year, Amazon also partnered with Snapchat to let its users search for products on Amazon via pictures and recently announced at Re:Mars 2019 a version of this technology for their Amazon App called StyleSnap. This new innovation of visual search technology suggests a more passive role for Amazon on the social media marketplace. Rather Amazon most likely intends to sell their technology to these platforms instead.
What is clear in the case of Amazon Spark though is that Amazon doesn’t give up easily rather they adapt. They have claimed to have “narrowed the experience based on what resonated with customers” and taken what they learnt from Amazon Spark to make the marketplace more user focused. It appears that Spark taught them that consumers enjoy visually searching for inspiration and browsing products but it lacked a social element that platforms like Instagram held and needed more interaction. Amazon is certain that key figures and social media influencers can solve this issue by driving sales through selling exclusively on their marketplace. They have actively begun creating Amazon exclusive products such as Lady Gaga’s new cosmetics line, Haus Laboratories as a way to entice new audiences that wouldn’t otherwise use the site. #founditonamazon will most likely evolve further and include these products into its customised search algorithm to entice uninterested consumers with similar products to “discover something new to love”.
With Instagram having had a head start in implementing ecommerce into their platform over the past year, it is uncertain whether Spark’s replacement can catch up. Will #founditonamazon be able to spark a better success than its predecessor or will it sizzle away into obscurity?