Amazon Dabbles in Social Commerce

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Social commerce is one of the top media and tech trends to emerge over the past decade. Previously meant to connect friends and share life moments, feed-based social channels like Instagram have become places to discover products and shop. This has given rise to the shoppability movement.

It’s also become the answer to the question that was posed to social networks like Facebook about 10 years ago: how will you make money? The answer of course was advertising, but it increasingly includes direct commerce. Social commerce will drive $1.2 trillion in spending by 2025, according to Accenture.

But what about the reverse path? Rather than social channels increasingly morphing into shopping channels, is there opportunity for shopping channels to become more social? This is what Amazon has in mind with its latest move: a TikTok-like feed. This makes it the latest player to copy the red-hot TikTok.

All Roads Lead to a Checkout Page

So, what does this look like? Uncovered by Watchful and reported by WSJ, the experimental feature will include a vertical photo and video feed. Known as “Inspire,” it’s activated by a diamond-shaped icon (iconography that’s typically associated with luxury) in the footer navigation bar of Amazon’s app.

When users tap that icon, they’re brought to a feed of photos and videos that feature various products – those that Amazon carries no doubt. The videos are shoppable in that in-feed links are embedded to find out more about items featured within. And all roads lead to an Amazon checkout page.

Amazon was likely inspired to do this by all the action it was getting from TikTok proper. As background, Amazon product recommendations are quite popular on TikTok, with the #amazonfinds tag racking up 25.6 billion lifetime views. Now it appears that Amazon wants to cash in on that mojo under its own roof.

Meanwhile, this follows other Amazon moves to mix things up with product discovery. Its Posts feature is an Instagram clone that features products and influencers (and associated paid sponsorship options). And it’s been ramping up its QVC-style live shopping, which is likewise a hot format right now.

Surface Area

Stepping back, this all brings to mind TikTok’s own commerce ambitions. The video company has been ramping up product discovery and shoppability for a while, with the latest move formalizing some paid brand marketing options. TikTok is still early in its business model evolution.

Amazon’s latest move essentially creates additional surface area on which to sell products. And it does so by tapping into a cultural moment around the popularity of viral videos. The question is if this feels genuine (TikTok’s jam), or if it’s a thinly veiled attempt to sell stuff. Users will be able to tell.

As noted, Amazon’s move follows a long line of TikTok clones from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Spotify. Meanwhile, Watchful reports that the new feature is being tested internally among Amazon staff, possibly to see the light of day if it hits the right marks.

Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local, and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at