Amazon Shopping Director on the Power of Friends With Influence

In the world of retail, recommendations from friends and inspiration from influencers are like power outlets for consumers, charging up their purchasing decisions. 

Keeping with this idea, the retail giant introduced “Consult-a-Friend” earlier this month, a mobile shopping innovation currently in the testing phase. It empowers shoppers to seek, review, and manage their friends’ opinions on products through the Amazon Shopping app.

Additionally, they’ve launched “Inspire,” a short-form video and photo feed, allowing consumers to immerse themselves in products and ideas, and make direct purchases from content created by influencers, brands and other customers. 

PYMNTS interviewed Oliver Messenger, director of Amazon Shopping. “Every day, customers turn to their communities to gather shopping inspiration and advice,” Messenger said.  

“We believe the trend of social shopping will only continue to grow, so we’re investing in experiences that make it easy for customers to connect with and learn from each other — whether that be from friends and family or a broader community of influencers and customers that share the same interests.” 

Motivation Behind Consult-a-Friend

Even as shopping methods have evolved, a constant desire remains: People crave insights and feedback on the products they want to buy. 

For Amazon, understanding the significance of friends and family advice in a customer’s purchase decision-making process is crucial.  

“Often, we see customers turn to Amazon influencers and reviews to get the insights they are looking for, but we also know input from friends and family is key for a lot of shoppers when they are making a purchasing decision,” Messenger said. 

Moreover, as customers mull over a potential purchase, the guidance from their friends and family stands out as one of their most essential decision-making assets. This insight is reinforced by another discovery: This year alone, customers have harnessed the “Share” feature within the Amazon Shopping app billions of times to distribute products through messaging services, social media applications and email. 

Despite this, Messenger acknowledged that online shopping can often be frustrating for customers who are aggregating and sifting through feedback from various sources across messaging services. Recognizing this challenge, Amazon identified an opportunity to alleviate this frustration and enhance the shopping experience with Consult-a-Friend. 

According to a PYMNTS report, Amazon reported that initial testing indicates a heightened interest from customers in obtaining feedback, particularly for items like apparel, shoes, electronics, and furniture.  

“I just used this feature when trying to decide which new TV to buy, and it was helpful to get feedback from people whose opinions I trust most on this type of purchase,” Messenger said, also noting that all feedback received is only visible to the person who requests it. 

To use Consult-a-Friend, shoppers can tap the Share button and find the “Ask for your friends’ votes” button. From that point, they can select their preferred messaging app and choose the recipients they wish to send the request to. 

The tool is undergoing testing with a chosen group of customers in several countries, including the U.S., Mexico, Canada, the U.K. and Australia. 

Launch of Inspire

Next, there’s Inspire. Earlier this year, Amazon launched its Inspire shopping feed, akin to TikTok, which is now accessible to all U.S. customers. 

“Many customers enjoy sharing feedback on their purchases with the wider Amazon community,” Messenger said. “Inspire offers customers the opportunity to get ideas and inspiration from other customers and find new products that fit their interests.” 

Customers who enroll in the Amazon Influencer Program and are approved have the opportunity to earn commissions when other customers buy products showcased in their content. 

Customers can track the engagement with their content by visiting their public profile page and clicking on the “Posts” section to access all of their shoppable content. Within this section, they can select individual photos or videos to view the number of likes (hearts) each has received.  

Inspire was developed to make it easy for customers to explore new products, discover ideas, and shop seamlessly from content created by other customers, prominent influencers, and a wide range of brands. When a customer encounters an item in Inspire, they have the opportunity to shop for it in real time on Amazon.  

The goal of Inspire is to offer customers with a new way to shop while leveraging the aspects they appreciate about Amazon, such as its product selection, competitive pricing, swift delivery, and shopping experience. 

“We’ve heard from customers that overall, they are inspired to create content as a way to share their expertise and knowledge, give back to their community, and to have fun,” Messenger said. 

Customers can capture a photo or video of their preferred products within the app, or upload content from their mobile device. They can then proceed to tag the product and share their experiences. 

Looking Ahead

Amazon’s latest products are timed to coincide with the holiday shopping season. A recent report from Adobe indicates that mobile shoppers will play a significant role during this period. In light of this, Messenger is optimistic that these features will enhance customers’ confidence in their shopping choices. 

“As customers continue to turn to their communities to gather shopping inspiration and advice, we are making it easy for them to connect with and learn from each other by building experiences that give them the flexibility to shop in the ways they want and meet their evolving needs,” Messenger said.