60% Consumer Decisions On Amazon Swayed By Digital Influencers And Vloggers 

As Amazon India gears up for its biggest annual sale, the company's product and technology chief talks to Outlook Business about the increasing role played by influencers in shaping consumer choices and how the ecommerce giant plans to make use of it
Kishore Thota- Director, Product & Technology, India & Emerging Markets- Amazon India.
Kishore Thota- Director, Product & Technology, India & Emerging Markets- Amazon India.

With Amazon's Great Indian Festival sale set to go live in a matter of days, the ecommerce giant is keen to leverage the hold of digital media influencers over online spenders. Sixty per cent of purchase decisions on the platform are influenced by YouTube vloggers and other influencers on digital media, Kishore Thota, director of product and technology, Amazon India, told Outlook Business in an interview.  

To take advantage of the impact of influencers, this year’s sale will have 1000+ streams through a curated list of over 300 influencers across tech, gaming, fashion, lifestyle, home, beauty and sports—a feature known as Amazon Live. Thota views Amazon Live as two-in-one mechanism that allow customers to save time on shopping and get a better understanding of their preferred products at the same time. “Customers also get a chance to interact with these influencers in real-time through a live stream, along with the option to buy the products that are being recommended in the livestream,” he said.   

In addition to making product recommendations on the live stream, influencers can also monetise their content under the Amazon Influencer Program. Thota said, “There are multiple ways in which influencers can earn. They can monetise their social media content by sharing their storefront URL or through affiliate links.” Influencers stand to earn commissions from qualifying purchases made by their followers.

Another technological innovation that Amazon has made in the run-up to the sale is the adaption of augmented reality (AR) into the shopping experience. Within this, the ‘View in Your Room’ feature will allow users to see exactly how a piece of furniture or décor will look in their space. Virtual try-on facility has also been enabled for users to try out fashion and beauty products online before purchasing them.  

The product and tech team at Amazon India will be hopeful that the new features will be as successful as some of the other innovative moves they made in the past, such as offering services in local languages.  

In 2018, Amazon India enabled customers to access the ecommerce platform in Hindi and since then added other regional languages like Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi and Bengali. Thota said that tens of millions of Amazon customers from Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities across the India have enjoyed shopping on Amazon.in in the language of their choice. Voice enhanced search ability also helped Amazon penetrate further into the Indian customer base that is not very familiar with writing or typing in English or in regional languages.  

“With voice interactions, customers can simply ask for products that they want using their voice or check their order statuses. The number of customers using voice shopping experience has consistently doubled since launch,” said Thota.   

One major hurdle that has stood in the way of ideal shopping experience on ecommerce platforms like Amazon has been the presence of fake reviews. Since prospective buyers depend on product reviews left by other users, fraudulent reviews have had an adverse effect on user experience, often misleading customers into an incorrect perception of products. This is an issue that Thota’s product and tech team has been trying to solve. 

Although Amazon has been investing on latest technologies to detect and block fake reviews, the fact that the problem is not specific to Amazon makes it difficult for the platform to tackle the menace on its own. Thota explained, “Fake reviews are primarily being driven by the emergence of an illicit ‘fake review broker’ industry. As our countermeasures have become more effective, the tactics of fake review brokers have also evolved in an attempt to try to evade detection. As this misconduct is often orchestrated outside of Amazon’s store, it can be more challenging to detect, prevent, and enforce these bad actors if we are acting alone.” 

The top Amazon executive also mentioned that the ecommerce giant is taking legal action against these bad actors on a global level. “Only through partnerships with like-minded stakeholders across the private and public sector can we truly stop fake review brokers, address the problem at the source, and help ensure that reviews are trustworthy across the industry,” he added. Amazon had blocked over 200 million suspected fake reviews from its stores in 2022. 

Going forward, as India’s ecommerce market grows, Thota is confident that emerging trends in technology will continue to help Amazon improve customer experience in an intuitive manner. “We will continue to leverage our global expertise to develop innovative solutions tailored to India's unique needs, transforming e-commerce in a way that is inclusive and accessible to all,” he stated. 

The Amazon Great Indian Festival sale will go live on 8 October 2023, with a 24-hour early access for Prime members. Customers will also get early access to more than 25,000 products till 6 October through Kick Starter Deals. 

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