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Ever since the inception of online social media, the online ecommerce industry has tried to tap into the profits. Recently, Amazon added a feature that allows web-browsers to connect with their Facebook profiles.  Through this new app, Amazon users can see their friends’ wishlists, find product recommendations from friends, and get purchase ideas.

This could be a very powerful feature because a friend’s recommendation is one of the most powerful influences for shoppers.  When a user knows that 20 of their friends bought a random book on cooking, they’ll be (subtly) prompted to purchase it.  Even better, when a user discovers that 20 of their friends bought a book that they are already interested in, the chances for success are huge.  “A new movement of collaborative consumption is forming,” Jeff Bennett, CEO of Swaptree.com stated.

The “Like” Factor

I have a feeling that this new Amazon feature will be very successful because the web has transformed from a “voice from the TV” driven market into a peer-pressure driven market.  We’ve moved from “These headphones will make your music sound better” to “I like these headphones, and so should you.”

Let me explain.  What compels people to “Like” a musician, movie, or politician?  For me, I “Like” something because someone else did or because I want people to see that I “Like” something.  When my Facebook friends see that I like the Coen Brothers’ film O Brother Where Art Thou, I want them to think that I’m cool, or funny, or smart. (Hey, all 3 would be nice!)

What an incredible idea! Facebook (and the rest of social media) uses peoples’ own self-absorption for the industry’s advantage. This is not necessarily a bad thing.  From the beginning, Facebook has played to our egotistical side.  (Don’t believe me. Well let me ask you this: Do you really need 64 profile pictures? 1,283 friends? 4 status updates per day?) The point is: it works!

This is exactly why this new Amazon feature will work.  We want to share our opinions with other people, and in online-retail shopping, our friends’ opinions are very important.  This could be huge for online retailers!

Written by: Daniel Griffith on August 11, 2010

Daniel is an Author, Designer, and Entrepreneur. With over 10 years of industry experience, Daniel utilizes his unique blend of mathematics and poetry, engineering and creative thinking to solve both technical and business challenges.

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