amazon playbook

Amazon Takes a Page from the TikTok Playbook

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Social commerce provides the promise of an additional revenue stream for social platforms that have largely relied on advertising for monetization. The giants are copying each other to get there, and Amazon has taken a page from the TikTok playbook to spur its latest advance.

The company’s new Inspire feature is meant to drive e-commerce product discovery and purchases using TikTok-style videos.

So, what does this look like exactly? It takes shape in a short-form video and photo feed that’s meant to allow shoppers to find new products and ideas. That discovery component will be fueled through product placement in viral videos from influencers, brands, and even other shoppers.

One Percent Inspiration

Users can access the new feature in the Amazon shopping app where a new Inspire icon is placed prominently. To get started, users signal their interests by personalizing their feeds. They do this by choosing from 20 categories including design, travel, fitness, pets, skin care, and a handful of others.

After that initial setup, the feed will customize itself over time using shoppers’ behavior, likes, and purchases. Amazon also wants to get things rolling by seeding the content with a handful of brands and influencers. It has already lined up influencers like Mae Badiyan, Practically Pursia, and others.

As for the feed itself, it contains video and images, making it a sort of hybrid between TikTok and Instagram. Speaking of the latter, users can likewise double-tap an item to like it. The broader feed is all TikTok however, including swiping up to see the next video and engagement buttons on the right.

Those engagement buttons are perhaps the most important part because they lead users where Amazon wants them to go – product listings. After tapping, users see pop-up overlays on a given video or image, which makes the UX a bit more elegant. A “see all details” option lets them jump to the product page.

This makes shoppability (albeit dressed in social content) the endgame. Aligned with the broader shoppability trend, it’s all about integrating transactional calls to action in social media. The goal is to reduce the friction traditionally seen in social commerce, including stopping to go search for a product.

Native Edge

Sticking with that last point, if a buy button is offered right within the social discovery app you’re already on, you don’t need to leave that app … which is good for the user and the social channel (read: lesser bounce rate). And it’s good for privacy-friendliness as the insular UX means that it’s all first-party data.

Of course, Amazon has an advantage here as e-commerce is its native strength. Others that integrate shoppability have to build those tools, or partner with Amazon to link off to its product listings. Amazon already has that core functionality … though it’s admittedly not natively primed for social products.

The latter is where Amazon’s success with the Inspire feature will fly or die. Can it emulate the vibes of TikTok without seeming too contrived or commercial? That could be a challenge given that users are good at detecting such intent. Then again, they’re very accepting of Shoppabilty efforts on Instagram.

We’ll be watching for exactly that. Meanwhile, Amazon says that Inspire will initially roll out this month to select users in the U.S. on its iOS app, followed by a broader U.S. rollout. Other regions and platforms could follow after that, not to mention UX tweaks as Amazon course corrects over time.

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