Amazon brings a TikTok-like shopping experience to its app. The company today announced the launch of Inspire, a new short-form video and photo app that allows consumers to explore products and ideas and buy from content created by influencers, brands and other customers. The feature is designed to draw consumers’ attention away from apps like TikTok, where brands can market directly to consumers, to drive sales on Amazon.com instead.
The retailer said the shopping feature will first be rolled out to select US customers in early December, and will be widely available to US customers in the following months.
The launch follows trials earlier this year where Amazon was present we seem to be experimenting with a TikTok-like shopping feed on its app, which had its own navigation button at the bottom of the Amazon mobile app. In the version presented now, that top level placement in the main navigation remains the same; however, Inspir’s feed will now be accessible by tapping the light bulb icon instead of the diamond icon seen in the test.
To get started with Inspire, customers will open the Amazon Shopping app and tap the Inspire icon. When they were first introduced, they were asked to choose from over 20 interests, including things like makeup, skin care, pets, gaming, plants, hiking, interior design, travel, running and more to personalize their Inspire feed.
While Inspire focuses on short-form video content, it also offers support for images, making it a cross between TikTok and Instagram. Like Instagram, you can double-tap anywhere on the screen to “like” content with a red heart. However, scrolling through the Inspire experience is similar to using TikTok’s live video feed, where you swipe up from the bottom to see the next video. Engagement buttons are also disabled on the right side of the screen, just like on TikTok.
If you see something you like, you can tap the little buttons at the bottom of the window that link to the product on Amazon. Initially, tapping on these buttons will display the product in an overlay window on top of the video, but tapping “See all details” will take you to the item’s product page where you can learn more, buy or add. it in the list.
Over time, Amazon says the feed will become more customizable as Inspire learns more about users’ interests by tracking their engagement and preferences. Longer term, the retailer plans to add more affordable features to Inspire, as well as more in-app functionality and content, to improve the product.
“We’re innovating every day to make shopping easier and more fun,” said Amazon’s director of shopping Oliver Messenger in a statement about the launch. “Inspire is our new shopping experience that connects Amazon customers with shoppable content created by other customers, the latest influencers, and brands. With just a few taps, customers can discover new products or get inspiration for what to buy, all related to their interests, and then buy those things on Amazon,” Messenger said.
The company has already enlisted a number of Amazon Influencers to post on Inspire, including Mae Badiyan, Practically Pursia and others. Creators will be able to earn money through customer purchases through the Amazon Influencer program.
“My audience wants engaging videos that introduce new products, which is why I’m excited to use Inspire to discover the things I love every day and buy those things quickly on Amazon,” Badiyan commented.
In addition, brands can ship to Inspire, including retailers and merchants who are registered in the Brand Registry with an active Brand Store, Amazon said.
Amazon has a long history of taking popular social media formats to engage consumers and encourage purchases. In previous years, it offered a Pinterest-like feature called Interesting Finds after previewing the idea in other versions, including Amazon Collections in 2013, then Amazon Stream in 2015. In the following years, it hosted an Instagram clone called Amazon Spark, but eventually dropped that program in 2019 after only a few years. Spark’s main contributor, Amazon VP of Consumer Engagement Chee Chew, also left in early 2019.
Elsewhere on the site, Amazon found inspiration in live shopping with Amazon Live and even tried a copy of YouTube where anyone could upload videos.
Unfortunately, most of Amazon’s take on social media is often half-hearted, as the content is there only to push products. Meanwhile, people are browsing social media for more than just ideas about things to buy. They want to interact with creators, learn new things, laugh and have fun. It is not clear whether the Inspire will be able to deliver these features, without switching to video.
Amazon Inspire is currently only available on the Amazon mobile app on iOS and Android, initially to select customers.