Amazon’s vice grip on e-commerce may be showing signs of loosening.
With near-constant roll-outs of new shopping features, Amazon is not often bested by other online retailers. But when it comes to the burgeoning trend of social shopping, the company has decided to take some time to regroup.
After only two years, the company has removed AmazonSpark, a fashion-focused shopping page, from its site.
The platform, which attempted to harness the selling prowess of social media influencers, largely fell flat. While it mimicked Instagram’s sparkly aesthetic, the commerce element took center stage and missed the mark on connecting users with friends and brands in a meaningful way. From a company that has built an empire on convenience and shop-ability, users may have found the program too transactional.
Not wanting to abandon the concept altogether, Amazon Spark’s landing page now houses a feed called #FoundItOnAmazon. Like the site’s Interesting Finds page, this one features a gridded layout and a Pinterest-like interface. While Interesting Finds features content showcasing a variety of lifestyle products, #FoundItOnAmazon appears to focus specifically on fashion, featuring copious shots of bloggers wearing styles they purchased on Amazon.
Still, as a well-established haven for both influencers and consumers looking for inspiration, Instagram may be tough to beat.
Though the social platform’s efforts to lean into e-commerce have been fairly transparent (especially with the addition of new checkout features and the enabling of shoppable influencer posts), Instagram has spent nearly a decade amassing a base of loyal and connected users who browse through their feeds multiple times per day. It now boasts the benefit of having a built-in audience for these steadily emerging e-commerce features.
Instagram will have to defend its burgeoning status as a bona fide retail marketplace, though. Seeking to capitalize on the social shopping phenomenon, new apps like Storr and Depop stand to challenge the Facebook-owned app. The latter, which blends a stylish social feed with easy buying capabilities, announced last week that it had raised $62 million in Series C funding, largely to bolster a U.S. expansion and target Gen Z and millennial consumers who enjoy buying secondhand fashion.
Meanwhile, Amazon might have unlocked a smarter social-led shopping strategy. The company recently unveiled The Drop, street style collections designed with a cadre of global Instagram personalities, sold for 30 hours, and manufactured to order after that selling window expires. Amazon seems to be banking on the here-today-gone-tomorrow mentality as a catalyst that prompts shoppers to snap up limited-time fashion or else succumb to a fear of missing out.
Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.