Saturday, March 15, 2008

Amazon pushes social shopping w/ FaceBook app

by Jonathan Birchall in New York

Published: March 13 2008 20:23 | Last updated: March 13 2008 20:23

Amazon is to become the first leading online retailer to tap into the potential merchandising opportunities presented by Facebook, the hugely popular social networking site.

The largest online retailer has launched applications aimed at pulling millions of Facebook users into its merchandising efforts, in a further extension of a move by retailers towards online “social shopping”.

The two new applications, Amazon Giver and Amazon Grapevine, tie Amazon’s own system of shopping “wish lists” and product reviews into Facebook’s social networking pages.

A Facebook user who adds the “Giver” application to his or her online profile can then view other users’ Amazon wish lists, and link through them to make a purchase at Amazon’s site.

The system also allows users to view product recommendations generated by Amazon that are based upon what the other person has listed as their likes and interests on their own Facebook profile – extending the kind of “artificial intelligence” techniques used by Amazon to generate customer recommendations on its own site.

The Grapevine application will automatically update a participating Facebook users’ online friends if he or she adds items to their own Amazon wish list, or writes a product review on the Amazon site.

Ebay, the online auction site, currently offers applications to both users of Facebook and its rival MySpace to keep abreast of bidding and to make purchases directly on its site.

Amazon has been in the vanguard of the “social shopping” trends, with the early development of user reviews and wish lists on its own site, as well as “tagging” of pages by users to create a personal portfolio of interests.

Donna Hoffman, a director of the Sloan Center for Internet Retailing at the University of California, told an industry gathering late last year that online retailers had to be ready to move from their current search engine optimisation as part of the development of “Web 3.0” techniques.

“Social shopping sites have the potential to make online shopping much more engaging,” she said. “Consumers are spending much more time on these sites.”

Other online retailers in the US, including Wal-Mart, Target and JC Penney, have subsequently added a selection fo similar features to their own sites.

No comments: