Amazon Spark, the two-year-old competitor to Instagram, has called it quits.
Hoping to tap into the power of the online influencer as well as capitalize on the trend of social shopping, Amazon launched its take on Instagram in 2017, Amazon Spark. It was aimed at Prime members and included a shoppable feed of photos and stories.
In all honesty, Amazon Spark was a bland service that focused on shopping and selling, unlike Instagram, which focused on people following brands, interests, and people (including their friends) that users found inspiring or engaging.
Though Spark tried mocking Instagram’s aesthetic using fashion images and travel photos, it didn’t have the broader appeal of the more popular social media platform. Your friends were nowhere to be found and there was no way to share your story. Instagram users are accustomed to using social media marketing companies like Buzzoid, ViralRace, and iDigic to boost their Instagram engagement by purchasing Instagram likes, followers, etc. Spark users, on the other hand, could only scroll through pictures with very little interactions. In short, it all felt too transactional.
Amazon’s social media experiment may be over, but the insights from ‘Interesting Finds’, Spark’s discovery tool, have been blended into a new product, #FoundItOnAmazon. Interesting Finds has been around for about three years and offers customers a way to browse a board of products that span various categories.
This Pinterest-like board setup has curated shops that focus on niche themes. The Daily Carry shop, for example, has notable items, the Mid Century shop has furniture and décor and there are even shops for people who love the color pink and Star Wars fans. Interesting Find adds another layer of personalization with the addition of My Mix. A shop filled with recommendations that have been tailored to your interactions and likes.
Interesting Finds has a modern site with a clean look and feel to it. Photos of products appear on white backgrounds and the clutter of the traditional product has been removed. People familiar with the products say Interesting Finds isn’t closing down, the #FoundItOnAmazon takes inspiration from what worked with Interesting Finds and will focus on home décor and fashion.
Amazon has yet to talk about why its Instagram experiment has come to an end, but it’s not hard to make some pretty good guesses. Past its transactional nature and lack of originality, Instagram itself has become a much formidable opponent since the launching of Spark.
When Instagram fully embraced its shoppable nature, introducing shopping features that made it easier for people to discover products from a photo, a shopping channel and an in-app checkout option, it was a big jump into Amazon’s territory.
Chee Chew, Spark’s primary stakeholder, left at the beginning of 2019. He was heavily invested in the success of Spark and his departure also contributed to its demise.
In addition to the shifting competitive landscape, Spark just doesn’t seem to have been well adopted by Amazon users. In the first 24 hours of its launch, only 10,000 Amazon customers use it. With Chew’s departure, Spark no longer had its driving force, and with no one paying Spark any attention, it silently made its exit.