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All you need to know about Amazon storefronts

The Amazon Influencer Programme is an extension of the Amazon Associates (affiliate) programme, that brings product-related content from influencers onto Amazon. Personally I have never even thought about purchasing something off Amazon due to influencer, well, influence but a recent survey from Ad Age and The Harris Poll found that nearly half of U.S. consumers consider input from influencers when purchasing a product or service. 

Three weeks ago on the 11th of October, Amazon held its first-ever “Prime Early Access” sale, essentially an equivalent to the company’s annual “Prime Day” event, but with an added ‘holiday’ shopping slant. During the sale’s 48-hour span, influencers flooded TikTok and other social media platforms with videos promoting specific products and major discounts; and social media users accordingly flocked to these videos. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #PrimeEarlyAccessSale was viewed over 24 million times in just two days.

Across almost all of these videos, there was one common factor—a prompting from the influencer for their followers to visit their “Amazon storefront,” available at a link posted in their TikTok bio, to view the specific products recommended in their videos in one centralised space. These “storefronts” aren’t new, but events such as Amazon’s latest sale emphasise creators’ expanding role in driving consumers’ purchasing decisions. Influencers are all the more enthusiastic to do so due to commission received off followers’ purchases. 

Furthermore, thanks to the meteoric rise of hashtags like “TikTokMadeMeBuyIt,” which currently has over 25 billion views on TikTok, it’s clear that this relationship between influencers and their followers is symbiotic, with consumers increasingly looking to influencer recommendations when making a purchase.

According to Mary Williams, head of creator success and marketing at the influencer-oriented shopping app LTK, influencer building will only grow more popular with younger generations. This sense of trust and connection consumers feel toward their favourite creators underlies the growing authority they assign to these influencers when deciding to buy something. “Consumers, especially younger ones, are no longer deceived by hollow product endorsements from celebrities or overt brand messaging, said Mary, “influencer recommendations, on the other hand, come across as something closer to a suggestion from a friend—even when a brand is paying the creator to promote that recommended item”. 

“We’re going to get paid ads and social ads all day long. But, as shoppers, we’re pretty clear now on what those are,” Mary continued. “When you’re purchasing something because you got a recommendation from someone you trust—whether that was a friend or an influencer who you’ve been following for years—there’s just a bigger sense of commitment there. Brands really appreciate the authenticity and trust that creators are able to build, and they’re trying to capitalise on that.”

The same Ad Age poll of over 1,000 U.S. consumers found that nearly one in five adults have purchased a product or service based on an influencer recommendation, with 24% of respondents reporting they have bought an item through a creator’s curated lists of products on platforms like Amazon or LTK. Even if they didn’t solely rely on an influencer’s endorsement of a product when buying a product or service, 43% of respondents cited creators’ input as “influential on their final purchase decision.” Over 20% reported “frequently” turning to influencers for insight into a given product or service before buying it. Almost one in 10 consumers said they “always” sought a creator’s input into a product before making a purchase. 

These numbers jump significantly among younger consumers: 75% of respondents between ages 18 and 25 said recommendations from influencers impact their decision to make a purchase, while only 40% of respondents aged 42 to 57, and 18% of those between ages 58 and 72, reported the same. Additionally, 40% of 18-to-25-year-old consumers have made these purchases directly through an influencer’s Amazon storefront or LTK shop, dropping to just 18% among 42-to-57-year-old respondents and 16% for those aged 58 to 76.

The social media platforms on which consumers search for influencer recommendations also vary between age brackets: 73% of consumers aged 18 to 25 reported looking to TikTok creators for their input on a product, with Instagram and YouTube influencers also popular sources for these recommendations. Older consumers tended to favour YouTube and Facebook for creator input.

When the pandemic drove U.S. consumers into lockdown and shuttered brick and mortar businesses, online shopping soared—and, with in-person shopping difficult or impossible, consumers became increasingly reliant on product reviews. Recommendations from influencers are, effectively, reviews enhanced beyond a simple rating from one to five stars, with many creators sharing detailed videos showing a product from different angles or even using it themselves. Is it therefore safe to say that for Gen Z, influencer recommendations are the new product reviews?

Amazon first introduced storefronts for influencers in 2017 as part of the company’s broader influencer program. To qualify for this program, a creator needs to have an existing social media presence on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or TikTok, and Amazon will take into consideration a creator’s “content, engagement rate and following size” when deciding whether to allow them to join the program, Meredith Silver, director of creator growth at Amazon, said in an email. Silver declined to provide information about the number of influencers currently involved in the program.

Creators can earn a commission rate of anywhere from 1% to 20% on sales originating from their storefront, depending on the product categories of the purchased items. Purchases of clothing and jewellery net influencers 4% of the total purchase value, while makeup, skincare and items for the home offer a 3% commission rate. Creators qualify for these earnings even if their followers didn’t buy an item listed on their storefront; the program includes a “halo effect” that rewards influencers for any purchase a consumer makes after being directed to Amazon through an influencer’s unique storefront link, Silver said.

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