Universal Links: Amazon’s Secret Weapon for Mobile Commerce Domination

By — 10.28.15

Amazon Universal Link

Our friends at Pure Oxygen Labs share how Amazon takes advantage of Apple’s iOS features to rule mobile commerce.

Recently, news reports suggested that nearly half of all product searches happen on Amazon. This says a lot about Amazon’s consumer gravity and it is something I’d be concerned about if I were Google. If I were a retailer trying to compete with Amazon, I’d be downright frightened. Because, in addition, as Apple rolled out iOS9, Amazon quietly launched a new capability that makes it even easier to convert those product searchers into Amazon sales this holiday season. The secret new weapon: Universal Links.

Universal Links is Apple’s new app deep linking standard. Once implemented, the iOS operating system detects when a web page URL matches a corresponding installed app page URL. When there’s a match, iOS opens the app page for the mobile shopper automatically. In this way Universal Links can remove the login friction of shopping the mobile web. What’s remarkable about Amazon’s implementation is a shopper can go from top of the funnel product search to one-click order in just a tap. How easy is that?

Standard implementation of Universal Links flips a switch, sending iOS mobile traffic to the app instead of the mobile website. Retailers considering the same move need to make sure their app is ready for the additional activity. Even for mature, feature rich retail apps, low conversion rates and attribution challenges may make retailers pause or delay implementation of Universal Links for fear of negatively impacting sales.

I think that would be a huge mistake because the overall influence of mobile on desktop or in-store conversion is only increasing. Growing and engaging app audiences will help decrease a retailer’s long-term customer acquisition costs while increasing customer stickiness and securing a greater share of wallet as the app matures.

The ideal way to implement Universal Links is to give control to campaign managers so they can decide across channels when to deep link to the app vs. web. As retail apps mature and retailers want to test optimization theories, control over launching apps vs. mobile web will become increasingly more important. Supporting Universal Links is a key step in that direction.

Retailers prone to delays due to prolonged build vs. buy dialogues are at a big disadvantage. Worried you don’t have all ROI analysis to justify the investment? Don’t – Amazon has done all the analysis for you. With less then a handful of other retailers using Universal Links at this time, Amazon’s aggressive move is poised to send shockwaves through the mobile commerce landscape this holiday season.


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