Amazon Hiring Influencers for Amazon Live

Amazon Hopes Influencers Can Grow Its Social Commerce Ambition – But There Is a Glaring Tech Problem

Have you heard of Amazon Live, a streaming platform the company launched in 2019? If not, Amazon hopes you soon will as it tries to entice more influencers to present products from the marketplace.

Amazon Live is an online streaming platform that mixes YouTube-like on-demand programming and live streams similar to HSN/QVC to engage with shoppers.

This is Amazon’s entry into social commerce, a mix of social media-like experience and shopping combined, which is extremely popular in China and gaining traction in the US and Europe.

Online marketers have been using social media for years to drive traffic to shopping sites, but social commerce effectively brings the two together creating a more seamless and direct buying experience.

It is expected that in China, social commerce sales will surpass $470 billion this year, while in the US, they are expected to be just one-tenth of that amount, around $45 billion.

These numbers suggest there is a lot of opportunity for marketplaces like Amazon or eBay to tap into the social commerce phenomenon.

Yet, despite the rising interest in social commerce, and newer marketplace platforms like Poshmark building their shopping experience around social commerce, the US and European markets are still well behind in embracing this way of shopping online.

At one time, it appeared the most likely companies to grow social commerce to the US and Europe would be the social media companies themselves. But this week, TikTok may be having second thoughts, although Pinterest seems to have doubled down on eCommerce.

As more shoppers, especially younger shoppers, are starting to embrace social commerce, the big eCommerce companies and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay will have to do more if they don’t want to be left behind.

Amazon actually has tried a social commerce like experience before with Amazon Spark in 2017, but it was never well publicized, buried in the app, and by 2019, the company shut it down.

Amazon Live

Amazon didn’t give up though and instead went to a more traditional format many US shoppers would know from HSN and QVC and Amazon Live was born in the same year.

Ever since the company has been quietly and slowly growing the platform, but just like Amazon Spark, it didn’t publicize it much, which is why so many shoppers don’t even know it exists.

However, Amazon seems to understand it cannot ignore social commerce a second time around and it’s continuing to invest in the platform, including enticing social media influencers that know how to build an audience.

According to an article published this week by the Financial Times (FT), Amazon has hosted four events this year already to attract more influencers to join Amazon Live.

The company is also reportedly offering generous bonuses and incentives to stream on Amazon instead of other platforms.

In a nutshell, Amazon is hoping to poach the Influencer’s audience or fan base away from other streaming platforms to grow its live streaming business.

Wayne Purboo, the executive responsible for Amazon Live, explained to FT, “livestream shopping is the future of retail.”

“We know that video is a driving force in customer purchases. We know that when customers are on Amazon, they are already in shopping mode. So we wanted to lean into that,” he added.

But is attracting influencers enough to build an audience?

This second attempt to grow a social commerce experience will have to attract Gen Z shoppers which are a big driving force that will grow the video streaming shopping experience.

But three years after the launch of Amazon Live, the biggest issue still seems to be that the livestreaming experience is best on a laptop or desktop.

That is not where Gen Z’ers shop!

While it’s possible to search for Amazon Live on the mobile app, the app just renders the mobile version of the Amazon Live site which is horrible at best.

No matter how much money Amazon is willing to shell out to influencers, if the mobile experience continues to be sub-par, the company will struggle to gain traction with social commerce.

Gen Z consumers will not hand around to wait for upgrades when there are much better experiences available elsewhere.

And, unless Amazon plans to subsidize influencers for a long time to keep them tied to Amazon, they are not going to stick around either if there is no audience to build which is at the root of their existence.

Influencers without an audience are not influencers, but merely presenters.

Amazon needs to fix that and it’s somewhat bewildering why a company with the technological know-how is relying on a late-2000s YouTube experience to attract tech-savvy consumers.

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