Amazon launched a new integration with Facebook today allowing users who link their accounts to receive purchase suggestions based on their Facebook interests, see gift recommendations for friends with upcoming birthdays, and browse items popular among your social network.
The integration pulls data about movie, music, and book preferences from you and your friends’ profiles and uses Amazon’s recommendation to suggest similar products. Curiously, there are not currently any additional sharing elements to communicate the social shopping experience back to Facebook.
Once a user signs into their Amazon account, or creates a new one, and allows Amazon access to basic, profile, lists, contact and friends’ information at any time, they are brought to “Your Amazon Facebook Page.” Their own profile interests are listed down the left side of the screen, including a direct link back to Facebook’s profile editor, making it easy to update one’s likes. In the center of the screen, three types of social content are available: Birthday and Gift Suggestions for Your Facebook Friends, Recommendations Based on Your Favorite [interest type] on Facebook, and Popular Among Your Friends.
Birthday and Gift Suggestions shows icons for your friends, default ordered by nearest birthday. It might be too late to send today’s birthday boys and girls gifts, but Amazon still shows them first. Clicking “See gift suggestions” brings up that person’s Amazon Facebook profile and lists items Amazon’s recommendation engine says are similar to items listed in their interests. For instance, if someone likes T.I. on their Facebook profile, Amazon will suggest you give them the latest Lil Wayne CD as a birthday gift. Clicking “Why is this suggested” brings up the stated preferences that generated the suggestion.
Recommendations Based on Your Favorite [interest type] on Facebook shows separate lists for favorite music, books, and movies. It feeds your own likes into the recommendation engine to give you Amazon’s quality suggestions without ever having used the site. Utilizing existing stated preferences instead of making you list and rate products you own on each shopping site you use is a huge step forward for e-commerce.
Popular Among Your Friends lists the items liked by the most of your friends. Each item has the number of likes in your network below it, along with mini-thumbnails of these people’s profile pictures. This feature makes it easy to determine what products are trending in your network and ensure you aren’t missing out.
These lists are reminiscent of Facebook Pulse, a early and now deactivated feature of Facebook which showed you the most popular items in different interest categories within your network. Even if one isn’t interested in purchasing anything, this data is entertaining and could use a way to be shared back to Facebook.
Overall, the social shopping experience still has a long way to go. The ability to aggregate interest data not just from one’s own profile, but from across all the social spheres represented in your friends creates recommendations that are hard to ignore. The fact that these preference summaries aren’t readily available on Facebook also indicates a gap. Yet, never before has it been so easy to ask all of your friends to suggest an album to buy and purchase it, without directly interacting with anyone.