Best practices of user experience on Amazon


Background


amazon.jpegAmazon is a multinational e-commerce company and the world's largest online retailer. It started as an online bookstore in the US and then diversified into everything imaginable ranging from electronics to furniture and apparel to groceries. The "amazon.com" domain attracts millions of visitors per month. Different versions of the website which vary in assortments and prices are available in different countries such as amazon.fr in France, amazon.es in Spain or amazon.co.uk in the UK.

Best Practices of User Experience


User experience on a website can be categorised into four areas using the framework shown in the exhibit below.

At amazon.com,
framework.jpg
  • Branding is driven by the strong brand visibility and "Why shop with us" reminders that clearly deliver the brand promise. The visual impact is high due to use of sharp colours, gradients and subtle 3D effects making vital user tools stand out.
  • Usability comes with excellent categorisation as well as personalisation based on prior searches, purchases, page views and wish lists. Amazon uses cookies and data mining algorithms to track a user's shopping habits.
  • Functionality is delivered by smooth navigation & search facility and a quick check-out process. Amazon makes it very easy for the user to quickly find and purchase a product and handles payments for the seller (Amazon Affiliates or Associates) unlike eBay, to quickly process the online purchases.
  • Content is rich with detailed close-up pictures of the product from all angles as well as the "Search inside the book" content search feature for books in particular. Additionally, due to the large customer base and an active review community, users get easy access to both positive and negative reviews through simple and powerful features on the website such as "the most helpful favourable review vs the most helpful critical review", average customer review and badging option to indicate a reviewer's popularity or real name. It also provides a best sellers list called Amazon Sales Rank for the millions of products stocked and this is updated on an hourly basis.

Additionally, the overall user experience is enhanced due to its Digital Marketing practices elaborated below -
  • Amazon heavily uses SEO/SEM to get excellent online positioning for most of the products. Also the fact that availability of products is high on amazon and several products do not have a landing or home page helps it rank higher on google searches.
  • It has its own you tube channel and uses social media effectively by being present on Facebook, twitter and such.
  • It has launched a social plugin/open graph with Facebook in 2010 (currently in beta version) which integrates Amazon and Facebook with a 'Amazon Facebook Page" when a user logs in at amazon, to provide a socially fulfilling shopping experience. Using Facebook, amazon is able to recommend products and personalise the website based on user interests and lifestyle as well as suggest gifts for upcoming birthdays of Facebook friends.
  • It uses affiliate marketing to a great extent and derives about 40% of its sales from "Amazon Associates". Amazon also developed an affiliate product called 'aStore' which allows affiliates to embed a subset of amazon products within or linked to another website.
  • Amazon.com also provides a mobile application for most of the smart phones and tablets. It makes good use of bar codes and pictures to provide a fast and convenient shopping experience to its users. Below is a video that gives a brief peek of how it is to shop with their mobile apps.


Finally, Amazon invests heavily in technology to adapt to trends, for e.g. developing Kindle and with acquisitions such as Zappos.com. It has a good customer service and adheres to the "long tail" by selling a large number of unique items that cater to a large customer base and executes it well with its logistic and operational capabilities.


Improvements


The following factors can be considered for improvement to take the user experience to a higher level.
  1. Social media integration is not complete yet and still in its beta version with facebook connect.
  2. The website can sometimes seem too cluttered.
  3. There is lack of human contact; amazon could have a call centre support like Zappos for instance.
  4. No tracking facilities are provided with third party sellers on amazon.
  5. Amazon is still not present all over the world and differs from country to country.


See Also


Best practices of user experience on Zappos
eCommerce opportunities in social media
•Synergies between search, social media and mobile marketing
What are Facebook social plugins
Why mobile marketing is getting more important


References


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/
http://www.slideshare.net/nicolasstaton/amazon-ppt-final?from=ss_embed
http://socialcommercetoday.com/screenshots-amazon-powered-by-facebook/
http://www.youtube.com/user/amazon?blend=9&ob=5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOicZ_AgsSA&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWHlVEiX_MY&feature=g-hist