What happens when the price tag meets the hashtag?

What happens when the price tag meets the hashtag?

Recently Twitter and Amazon announced an innovation which will allow users to add items to their Amazon basket by using the hashtag #AmazonCart (or #AmazonBasket in England). The goal is bi-directional; Amazon hopes to break into the world of social media to increase sales and marketing and Twitter hopes to boost their paid promotion revenues for tweets, accounts and hashtags.

For a company which already has a stellar reputation and nigh-on intergalactic brand awareness, Amazon’s sudden plunge into the world of social media could certainly be earmarked as late. Their aim here however is not necessarily to build brand awareness as most ecommerce retailers are, they are looking to use this avenue to streamline the purchase process, working to increase sales by removing the unnecessary steps that the customer usually has to take; or in the words of an Amazon spokesperson “We are not focused on competitors. We are laser focused on giving our customers the best discovery and shopping experience while they are on Twitter.”

Twitter on the other hand are after a bump in revenue via their promoted tweets. Despite the fact they will not be generating money via transactions, their direct involvement in ecommerce will provide a strong platform for them to encourage more businesses to use twitter and consequentially more paid advertisements.

Although this partnership seems like a novel idea, Sina Weibo (China’s answer to Twitter) paved the way for such innovation when they gave users the option to browse and purchase goods from within their mobile app. The later involvement of Alibaba Group granted the integration of products sold by merchants on the country’s largest e-commerce website, Taobao Marketplace. During the last few years the two companies have become ever more affiliated and the interface has evolved to include a “Buy” button underneath Taobao links on Sina Weibo. This symbiotic relationship has been lucrative for both sides and, according to Bloomberg industries, over the holidays Alibaba accounted for 43 percent of Weibo’s ad revenue.

China have showcased the fact that such partnerships can prove mutually beneficial if executed correctly. It’s important to remember however they are aiming at a completely different cultural demographic. To copy such business models directly into the Western marketplace and expect results is perhaps more risky than it appears on the surface. Users with lax security settings will be broadcasting their shopping habits to the world plus being required to link Twitter and Amazon accounts is perhaps a step which people won’t endeavour to take. Forbes takes a more optimistic view professing,

“facilitating shopping in the moment is great for consumers who love scouring social media for the latest finds, especially in fashion. The Amazon-Twitter partnership turns the social network into a vehicle for commerce, something that retailers are likely itching would happen to Instagram”. Lydia Dishman 06/05/2014

The fact that social media is influencing our ecommerce habits should come as no surprise to any of us. Targeted ads, photo sharing and company pages all impact the way we shop constantly, sometimes blatantly, sometimes more subtly. The looming question in this partnership is whether the West will be so receptive as the East to such a processes. Only time will answer this question, one thing’s for sure though – the bar’s been set high.