Watch out, TikTok. Amazon is pushing into your territory.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday (Aug. 17), the retail and tech giant is testing a feature in its mobile app that would show shoppers shareable, TikTok-style photos and video feeds of products. Right now, the feature is currently available only to a small number of employees the paper said, citing someone familiar with the beta.
Reportedly codenamed “Inspire,” Amazon’s internal beta test is the latest nod to the selling power of short-form video, now also being pursued by Google and Meta’s family of apps, including Instagram and Facebook.
The lure of short-form videos to influence consumers and move merchandise is one of the hottest topics in eCommerce, and all platforms are evaluating it for good reason.
In the study Benchmarking The World’s Digital Transformation, a PYMNTS and Stripe collaboration based on surveys of over 15,100 consumers in 11 countries, “activities built for digital are capturing a high level of consumer engagement, with video streaming and social media activities among the two top-ranking of all those we studied,” with 61% and 56% of the populations across the 11 countries we studied engaging in those activities — 31% and 25%, respectively, on a daily basis.
The hat trick of discovery, engagement and purchase is the ultimate goal of these various tests, with U.S. social and eCommerce sites trying to replicate TikTok’s sales success in Asia.
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The Livestreaming Wars
Amazon is already using video to some extent. According to the Journal story, “The retailer posts live videos from creators on its website, who promote items available for purchase. It has attempted to court elite social-media users to its influencer program, which allows creators to build personalized pages on Amazon and earn money when followers make purchases through customized links.”
At present, Alphabet’s YouTube is the most commanding platform for short-form video consumption among younger demographics in the U.S. In an August blog post, Pew Research said a new survey “of American teenagers ages 13 to 17 finds TikTok has rocketed in popularity since its North American debut several years ago and now is a top social media platform for teens among the platforms covered in this survey. Some 67% of teens say they ever use TikTok, with 16% of all teens saying they use it almost constantly.”
However, Pew added that “YouTube tops the 2022 teen online landscape among the platforms covered in the Center’s new survey, as it is used by 95% of teens. TikTok is next on the list of platforms that were asked about in this survey (67%), followed by Instagram and Snapchat, which are both used by about six-in-ten teens. After those platforms come Facebook with 32% and smaller shares who use Twitter, Twitch, WhatsApp, Reddit and Tumblr.”
Ironically, TikTok is backing off plans for livestream shopping in the U.S. and UK. According to a July Financial Times story, “TikTok had planned to launch the feature in Germany, France, Italy and Spain in the first half of this year, before expanding into the US later in 2022, according to several people briefed on the matter. But the expansion plans have been dropped after the UK project failed to meet targets and influencers dropped out of the scheme, three people said.”
“The market just isn’t there yet,” a TikTok employee told FT. “General consumer awareness and adoption are still low and nascent.”
Maybe not for TikTok and we’ll see what — if anything— comes of Amazon Inspire, Pinterest is another social platform that sees video in its sales mix going forward.
In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, Pinterest senior vice president and head of engineering Jeremy King talked up video plans, saying “Once they discover, they want to be able to make that transaction happen — we call it inspiration to action. The action part is what we’ve been working on in the last couple years.”
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