Amazon launches Spark, a shoppable social content feed

(Author : Dan O’Shea)
Amazon has launched another new product discovery feature, this one called Amazon Spark, a content feature on its Amazon mobile app that takes cues from social media by allowing users to shop items they see in photos and read about in posts generated by others, according to TechCrunch.

Amazon has just started rolling out Spark to U.S. users of its mobile app after testing it in beta form for the last few months. The feature is not available for use outside of the retailer’s mobile app, TechCrunch reports. First-time users of the feature are asked to register with their names and provide a list of at least five interests to follow. Amazon Spark then develops an image-intensive, customized feed of related products, photos and ideas.

It sure looks like Amazon is taking a page here from Pinterest’s social shopping inclinations, as well as Instagram’s shoppable photos. And in every “smile” on an Amazon Spark post, we’ll be reminded of a Facebook “like.”

However, it also has become clear in recent years that there is an authenticity vibe to user-generated content that more shoppers these days seem to be trusting. Amazon’s Interesting Finds feature, announced last year, started to take its product discovery solutions in new directions — and also put Amazon on a course toward increasing Pinterest comparisons.

That’s part of the reason why this launch doesn’t come as a total surprise. Even as Amazon has set the tone and pace for product discovery innovations, it still doesn’t have a site or format that reflects the idea of a social network or a social media-style content feed. Product discovery and product curation take many forms, and Spark is a natural extension of Amazon’s general efforts to simply help customers find products they want to buy.

It will be interesting to see how far Amazon wants to go in committing to the social network concept. The TechCrunch story suggests the e-commerce giant will allow users posting content on Spark to link to product reviews they previously have written for Amazon. Could Amazon further encroach on the turf of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook as those sites have been edging into its own territory? One of the things we have learned from Amazon is that it’s relentless about about fighting and winning retail battles regardless of the venue. Amazon is making a massive push to beat traditional retailers at their own game, so why not social networks, too?

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