Amazon testing TikTok-style feed on its app, AI firm says

Amazon is the largest internet-based retailer in the United States. [iStockphoto]

Amazon appears to be getting the TikTok bug, joining other companies seeking to hold consumers’ attention by introducing replicas of the popular social platform.

The e-commerce giant has been testing a feed on its app that enables shoppers to scroll through TikTok-like photos and videos of products posted by other users.

Using the feature, called Inspire, customers can like, save and share posts of products, and purchase items directly from the feed, according to Watchful Technologies, an Israeli-based artificial intelligence (AI) firm that analyses apps and has tracked the feature.

The test doesn’t mean Amazon will roll out the widget to the public in its current form - or at all.

Alyssa Bronikowski, an Amazon spokesperson, declined to say if the company has plans to introduce the feature to all its customers. In a statement, Bronikowski said the company is “constantly testing new features to help make customers’ lives a little easier.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the test. Citing an anonymous source, the Journal also said the company is testing the feature among a small number of Amazon employees.

Amazon often experiments with new features, sometimes even targeting its tests to specific regions. Amid regulatory pressure about its private-label business, the company had been testing how to identify its brands in search results by tagging them with badges such as “Amazon brand” or “Exclusive to Amazon,” the research firm Marketplace Pulse discovered earlier this year.

In its current form, the experimental TikTok-like feed mostly shows photos, said Daniel Buchuk, a researcher with Watchful Technologies. But if the feature is rolled out, Buchuk suspects the feed will be video-heavy as Amazon sellers create content to make it more engaging for customers.

The corporate parents of Google and Facebook, the two biggest sellers in digital advertising, already have been pushing their own TikTok clones in bids to keep eyeballs glued to their services so they can continue to boost their revenue.