As America lurches out of lockdown, the world’s largest e-commerce retailer is leveraging its charitable Amazon Smile program to earn back attention from users who may have found other online shopping options.
In a long-anticipated move, Amazon Smile, which allows shoppers to donate 0.5% of their purchase price to a charity of their choice, is now available to toggle on from the main menu on the Amazon iPhone app.
However, rather than simply turning on the feature, a three-step opt-in process requires users to turn on push notifications from the app.
“How it works: To use AmazonSmile on this device, you will need to periodically turn on features, like notifications,” the app reads. “These features allow AmazonSmile to continue donating money to charity.”
There is no further explanation on the app as to why push notifications are necessary for the trillion-dollar company to make the donation of $0.005 per dollar. Push notifications are seen as one of the most effective ways for marketers to reach consumers.
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The program has earned Amazon invaluable organic exposure from nonprofits across social media. On Monday morning, seven state-wide chapters of the American Cancer Society simultaneously posted a similar Tweet: “Just in time for Father’s Day, @amazonsmile is now available from within the Amazon Shopping app.”
It was unclear at publication time exactly when the new integration had launched: the @AmazonSmile Twitter account hasn’t Tweeted since Oct. 29, 2018; the AmazonSmile Facebook page has been dormant since Dec. 9, 2019; the @AmazonSmile Instagram account last shared a post on Nov. 18, 2016. A Tweet to @AmazonSmile seeking comment was unanswered at publication time.
The iPhone app integration is new, but Android users have for years been able to toggle AmazonSmile. Desktop Amazon shoppers can opt-in by changing the URL in their browser from ‘www.amazon.com’ to ‘smile.amazon.com.’
The company’s flagship summertime shopping event, Prime Day, has been pushed to the fall, according to The Wall Street Journal. But with retail shops still closed across parts of America, shoppers are relying on Amazon — and other emerging retail outlets — more than ever before.
Public perception of the AmazonSmile program has long been mixed at best. “What, then, is AmazonSmile? It’s marketing, dressed up as altruism,” wrote Marc Gunther of NonprofitChronicles.com in 2017. “No wonder Jeff Bezos is smiling.”
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