Amazon Introduces New Shopping Social Network

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Amazon.com Inc has launched a social feature called Spark, an Instagram-style shoppable feed that appears inside the Amazon app that allows members to showcase and purchase products on its platforms, marking the retail giant’s first clear move into the world of social media.

Amazon’s “Spark”

Spark encourages users to share stories, ideas, photos and videos of products they love, which others can react to with comments and “smiles”- Amazon’s own version of Loke or Favorite button, just like popular social media platforms Instagram and Pinterest.

The new feature publicly launched on Tuesday for use on mobile devices that use Apple’s iOS operating system.

The experience is similar to scrolling through your Instagram feed, except in this case everything is set up so you can click on an image and buy the items in it.

The retailer has been quietly testing Amazon Spark in beta for a few months before today’s launch to consumers in the U.S. The goal with the new program is to shift some of the social activities around products taking place off-site back to Amazon, where product inspiration can translate directly into purchases with a click of a button.

It’s only available to Prime members, who pay $99 a year for free shipping, streaming videos and other perks. An Android version is planned.

“We created Spark to allow customers to discover – and shop – stories and ideas from a community that likes what they like,” said an Amazon spokeswoman.

“When customers first visit Spark, they select at least five interests they’d like to follow and we’ll create a feed of relevant content contributed by others. Customers shop their feed by tapping on product links or photos with the shopping bag icon.”

Amazon has also invited publishers, including paid influencers and bloggers to post on Spark. Their posts are identified with a sponsored hashtag.

Amazon Stock Performance

Shares of Amazon were up 1.45% on Wednesday session, to $1,026.87. It opened at $1,025.00, with a session high of $1,031.59 and a session low of $1,022.50. The stock currently has a market capitalization of $497.82 billion, with a price earnings ratio of 192.40.

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Amazon To Buy Whole Foods Market For $13.7 Billion

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Amazon announced on Friday that it would buy Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion, and pay $42 a share for Texas-based grocery store chain in an all-cash deal that includes the group’s debt.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey will stay as the CEO of the grocery store chain after the deal closes, and the store, the organic grocer that was founded in 1978, will keep operating under the Whole Foods brand as the deal is expected to be done in the second half year.

“This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” Mackey said in a statement.

The deal sent a shocking reaction across both the online and brick-and-mortar industries, uniting two brands that weren’t seen as clear partners. But Whole Foods came under pressure to find a buyer this year after activist investor Jana Partners LLC acquired a stake and started pushing for a deal. Jana’s move annoyed Mackey, who has stated Whole Foods as his “baby.” With Amazon in the play, he gets to keep his job as CEO of the grocery chain.

In Whole Foods, it is acquiring a company that has recently come under pressure from investors for its lagging performance. Whole Foods, whose stores now numbers more than 430 locations, has struggled to appeal more mainstream consumers as Walmart and other large chains have stepped up their sales of natural and organic products.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

Mackey said the he agreed to the deal because it is “an opportunity to maximize value” for the company’s shareholders.

Moreover, Amazon’s biggest acquisition so far came in 2014, when it agreed to buy video-game service Twitch Interactive Inc. for $970 million in cash. The Seattle-based company had about $21.5 billion of cash and equivalents at the end of March, the data show.

Whole Foods closed at $33.06 on Thursday. It opened at $34.85, with a session high of $34.97 and a session low of $32.97. Shares were halted in pre-market trading. Meanwhile, Amazon opened at $958.7 and closed at $964.17, with a session high of $965.73 and a session low of $950.86. Shares of Amazon rose 1.5% to $978.88 in pre-market trading.

Want to become an investor/trader in the stock market? Fill yourself in on marketing news by subscribing to Trade12. We encourage traders to know more about the latest information about forex, stock markets, commodities, and economies.

Can’t handle your funds properly? Exo Capital Markets will help you manage your funds. Exo Capital Markets strives to become the leading financial services firm by offering its clients with the most modern solutions in the industry.