Amazon has unveiled a new hashtag that allows shoppers to add items to their cart without leaving Twitter.

Known as #AmazonBasket in the UK and #AmazonCart in the US, it marks an interesting step forward in social commerce. But is it really that useful?

Before we answer that question, I thought I’d see how easy it was to setup and use the tool.

The first step is to register your Twitter account with Amazon, which is probably the fiddliest part of the process.

Once that is sorted users simply need to reply using the hashtag to any tweet that includes an Amazon product link.

I tried it this morning in response to a tweet from Cadbury and it worked perfectly, as one would expect from Amazon.

The product was added to my basket in a matter of seconds and Amazon even sent me a tweet and a follow up email to confirm that it had worked.

The email included a brief description of the #AmazonBasket system and a giant call-to-action to ensure I didn’t forget about my purchase.

All very slick and impressive, but you may be asking what’s the point?

Is #AmazonBasket useful?

In my opinion #AmazonBasket does appear to be something of a gimmick, as I can’t see that it really solves any existing problems.

I would assume that this is targeted at mobile users who might be less likely to click out of the Twitter app, but Amazon already has an excellent mobile site so it’s no great pain to click on a product link and add the item to your basket.

For Amazon, the benefits are that it extends its brand presence within the social network as it might encourage additional social sharing both from brands and consumers who will begin to associate Amazon with Twitter.

So in the short term it’s likely that we’ll see loads of retailers trialling the new tool, which of course runs the risk of it being seen as a bit spammy.

There is also the question of what Twitter stands to gain from #AmazonBasket. 

If the hashtag proves to be a success then it might try to charge a percentage on any sales, the mechanics of which are made easier by the fact that Amazon and Twitter are clearly working closely together on this initiative.

Ultimately we’ll have to wait and see, but personally I don’t think #AmazonBasket will be anything more than an interesting experiment and a novelty tool for social marketing campaigns.

I’ll leave you with the wise words of Jeni Rodger…