Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
For a long time, Amazon has been known as a search engine for people ready to buy. Over the last year, with new features such as Amazon Live, they seem to have gradually positioned themselves as a discovery-based platform. That’s traditionally been the realm of search engines such as Google and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
It seems that social media platforms and online marketplaces are each heading in each other’s direction. If consumers are lucky, they’ll meet somewhere in the middle and end up making the way that we all shop in 2023 more streamlined and fun.
Related: What Brands Need to Know About Social Commerce
Here’s what I’m really talking about.
Over the last few years, influencer marketing has become a critical (and very valuable) part of online commerce. The influencer marketing business model has exploded from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $13.8 billion in 2021. Industry analysts predict that this year it will reach $16.4 billion.
And where do all those influencers call home? TikTok, that’s where.
OK, not just TikTok, but also other short-video-format heavy platforms such as Facebook and YouTube as well. Accelerated by the restrictions imposed by the long pandemic, they have all contributed to an exciting new way of effortlessly transitioning from social media engagement directly to shopping for favorite, influencer-recommended products.
TikTok signaled their eCommerce intentions with a recent announcement about a new partnership program designed to assist US merchants with advertising on their app by positioning the TikTok For Business Ads Manager as a home base for their TikTok-based marketing.
Related: 3 Ways TikTok Can Improve Your Marketing Strategy
TikTok For Business allows merchants to create and manage TikTok campaigns without leaving their own native eCommerce platforms.
As importantly, they can do it by engaging with users right out at the tip of the spear, those users interacting with high-profile marketing trends.
Now, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has become both a trending hashtag and a place where products become viral eCommerce legends.
TikTok for Business is ground zero for influencers and online sellers looking to find what people are talking about, and, more importantly, buying.
The growing #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag movement doesn’t beg customers to make purchases. Instead, it just shows how cool these trending new products are. And it’s working! TikTok also has a “For You Page” that they say is intended to work as an online “matchmaker” between content and a curated audience.
At the same time, the same thing is happening on Amazon’s marketplace but in reverse!
Amazon just launched Inspire, “a new, personalized in-app shopping feed designed to make it easy to explore new products, discover ideas, and seamlessly shop content created by other customers, influencers, and brands (you) love.”
It should. It’s very similar to the experience that a TikTok user would have. Browsers (and not necessarily shoppers) could scroll through curated photos and videos tailored to their selected interests and engagement.
Related: When It Comes to Social Media, TikTok Can Maximize Your ROI
What’s groundbreaking about this new app is Amazon’s seeming willingness to create a platform for users who might not even be interested in shopping. That’s a business model that I’m not sure Jeff Bezos saw on the horizon.
Users of the Inspire app can swipe through the content to simply see what’s out there, get inspired by something new, cool, or crazy, and of course, make purchases with just a few clicks.
Amazon, along with several other large Ecommerce marketplaces, has decided that the long-held acceptance that their platforms were unapologetically for “shopping” had run its course. Now, they’re building entertaining ecosystems that also allow for shopping.
Amazon’s Inspire isn’t available for desktop applications. Instead hinting at the intended functionality as well as the demographic, it’s only available as an app for IOS and Android.
Amazon says it will roll out to select customers in the U.S. in early December, with the projected goal of completing U.S. accessibility completed in a few months.
Marketplace Pulse recently referenced “Prime Day is the best example of social commerce,” with videos tagged #primeday2022 viewed over 52 million times on TikTok.
It seems that very soon, a better representation of “social commerce” might just be groups of Amazon Inspire users passing their phones back and forth, alternately “liking” and making purchases from a marketplace formerly known for its single-minded focus, and let’s admit it, lack of fun.