The Amazon Effect: What Amazon Has Done to the E-​​Tailing Experience

Woman shopping online surrounded by shopping bagsLike the rest of America, I went shopping on Black Friday.  However, I didn’t get up at 3am and I didn’t brave the crowds.  I did my shopping online, largely in response to promotional e-​​mails that I received throughout the day.  What struck me was how I compared the shopping and checkout experience on all other sites to Amazon​.com. I call it “The Amazon Effect” (I’m sure I’m not the only one to call it that, btw).

I actually hear it all the time from friends, family and clients: why can’t this (insert name of site here) work like Amazon?  Okay, forget for a moment that that Amazon has spent tens of millions on their site.  Here’s what I’ve come to expect from Amazon and would love it if other e-​​tailers followed suit.

  • Much as I hate to think that my shopping patterns can be predicted by a computer, the personalization on Amazon rocks. Yep, the site pushes all kinds of merchandise on me via e-​​mail and the Web site, but it’s not crap if I’m even mildly interested.  I’ve been introduced to new bands and authors, and I love that the related items often lead me to what I’m really looking for.
  • Amazon fulfillment is lightning fast. I placed three orders on Black Friday and they all arrived Monday morning.  Meanwhile, another retailer tells me I have to wait 7–10 days for regular shipping.  7–10 days, are you kidding?  What are the people in the warehouse doing?
  • Amazon embraces user-​​generated content. I rely on the reviews and ratings from my fellow consumers, esp. fellow moms.  And I’ve used lists created by Amazon customers for great gift recommendations for family and friends.
  • Amazon does a great job of communicating the status of my order. I get an e-​​mail when I place the order and another one when the order ships.  I’ve never left guessing about where the heck my stuff is, and I have handy links that let me check on the order directly.

Some of my other favorite retailers embrace a lot of the practices above.  I think Land’s End does a particularly good job, as does Snapfish.  The smaller retailers, not so much.  Do I do a lot of my shopping on Amazon?  You bet, and the superior user experience on the Web site is the reason why.

Does your company have an online store?  How can you make the user experience more like Amazon?