Originally published on ION.
In its ongoing attempt to join the likes of the Google and Facebook digital duopoly, Amazon rolled out personalized online storefronts for social media influencers. An extension to the influencer program it launched in 2017, the move could help marketers better tie influencer activity to hard product sales, in addition to amplifying reach and engagement. Here we explore the steps marketers should take to stay in front of the new platform and how to make the most out of Amazon storefronts right now
The central difference between Amazon affiliate links and the Amazon influencer storefront is that the storefront houses links to products recommended by influencers. The storefront provides influencers with their own page and a URL to showcase their recommendations which is helpful where hyperlinking isn’t possible—for example, on Instagram captions and videos.
Influencers must have a YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account to qualify for an Amazon storefront. Amazon doesn’t provide much detail on how follower size impacts qualifications beyond noting that it “looks at the number of followers and other engagement metrics of the influencers’ social media presence.” Influencers who become verified on Amazon have a verified badge and link on their storefront as well as access to Amazon social experiences, called bounties, and forthcoming new benefits that Amazon has yet to disclose. Once set up, virtual storefronts can be customized through photos and a bio. The influencer program is currently available in the US, UK, Canada and India.
The move helps consumers, too, letting them easily follow storefronts to they can stay up-to-date on products their favorite influencers suggest. From there, shoppers will receive updates via email and push notifications whenever the influencer contributes new content to the site, including reviews and the creation of new “Idea Lists” on the storefront’s page.
According to Liane Mullin, COO of WhatsUpMoms, a parenting network with 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube, sales commission depends on the product category. Marketing Land reported that Amazon approached Mullin’s team about setting up their own storefront. “Our community has always asked for our product recommendations, but we didn’t really have a great solution to aggregate all of our favorite products. Amazon is a trusted site for a lot of parents, so it was an easy decision to partner with them for our first online store,” Mullin told Marketing Land.
As for commission rates, they vary from one percent to 10 percent, as Business Insider noted. The storefront is equipped with a reporting tab within Amazon that tracks the sales of products and bounties. In addition to tapping major influencers, Amazon is also targeting micro-influencers who have small but highly engaged audiences.
In addition to Amazon influencer storefronts, there is Storr and Like To Know It, two retail concept platforms that allow users to curate collections and shopping experiences much in the same way that Amazon storefronts work. San Francisco-based Storr, which launched earlier this year, allows anyone to open their own store via their phone. Storr owners can make up to 15-25 percent on commission. Similarly, Like To Know It was created in 2017, and by the end of its first year, had over 1.3 million registered users on the mobile app and over $300 million in sales coming from its shoppers. The platform is driving influencer sales at scale, as research mentioned on Forbes noted that four of five of Nordstrom web visits came from influencer-driven referral traffic, 79 percent of which came from Like To Know It and its parent brand, rewardStyle, in 2017.
With Amazon influencer storefronts, Storr and Like To Know It, influencers are crafting experiences that are more shoppable for followers on platforms where it’s not easy to link out to a product. For example, to shop on Instagram, one must remain in the app. Custom links to storefronts simplify the user experience and expose followers to new products they potentially wouldn’t search for on their own.
While the storefronts provide influencers a new way to monetize their popularity, it’s not clear yet to what extent Amazon’s initiative will benefit marketers. The program is in its early stages and marketers currently have no access to influencers’ storefront metrics. In the beginning stages, brands will have to rely on influencers to provide traffic data, making the storefront retail concept not entirely immune to fraud.
The storefronts will, however, move marketers one step closer to understanding the value of influencer marketing beyond awareness raising. After storefronts become more established, marketers will have better insights into the conversion rates of each influencer and that data will help them navigate those relationships accordingly. The question that remains for marketers is whether or not they can retarget influencers’ audiences beyond their storefront and incorporate those consumers into their larger brand strategy.