Amazon has recently begun testing its new built-in Pinterest imitator, Collections.
The service went live earlier this month and it looks nice and simple. Some are surprised Amazon has so brazenly taken on a competitor, but it certainly feels like a good addition to the well-established Wishlist and 'You might like' features.
Will this new personal aspect add some needed character to Amazon's marketplace? Will Pinterest be unaffected? I take a look at the new feature and ask some questions.
Will the service add some fun?
Although this probably isn't Amazon's explicit goal, there's no doubt collecting is fun, and could be part of a fun customer experience. Amazon is all about CX and so gamifying consumerism should be right up its street.
The problem may lie in linking the market place, the wish list, and Collections seamlessly.
Should it be easier to find?
It's weird to be unable to find something on Amazon. The UX is world-beating, but the company has obviously taken the decision to hide Collections for a little while, perhaps while it's tested.
It's available in the 'My Account' dropdown, but if it takes off, you'd expect to see it given its own tab, a la Wishlist. Interestingly I've found it a bit temperamental sometimes the option is there, and sometimes not. Perhaps related to Amazon's complex testing.
Of course, it's easy enough to find through Google search.
How does 'pinning' work? Will users realise collections are visible?
Collections has an 'Add' button, which can be added to your browser, much like the 'Pin it' button. There's an add button on some product pages, but the feature isn't fully rolled out yet.
If you add stuff to your collections, it shows up on the 'All' or homepage of 'Collections' for everyone to see. The interstitial when you go to collect something explains that this will be public and shows you what name will be displayed.
Even so, this feels fairly public, for a logged-in service that was once private. These interstitials do, however, serve to warn the person that they're not just bookmarking something for later. No doubt 'spammers' will be flooding the homepage with their own products. Which will show up, chronologically and shuffle down the page over time.
This can be annoying in that one can get stuck (especially in these, the early days) looking at items uploaded in the past few minutes by just one user e.g. lots and lots of Disney movies. The 'All' tab probably isn't used that much by users, but this should probably be amended or will fix itself once the user base expands. Pinterest has the same feature, but it's much more varied.
Will the refined category list be expanded?
The categories for collections are shown in the screenshot below. Books, Movies, Music, Men's Fashion, Women's Fashion and Featured. These are obviously the most collectable categories, but surely more will be added once Amazon sees the results of the first month or so. Obviously users can construct whatever boards they wish.
Will it give Amazon even more data?
Undoubtedly, yes. And lots more data I guess.
Amazon should be able to tempt you with those aspirational items in a much more personal way. If there's some decent semantic stuff in Amazon's algorithm, it's easy to see how it can target you mercilessly, when it knows you really want something by looking at keywords in your collection titles.
For example, one of the default 'Your Collections' tabs is 'Want List'. Safe bet that Amazon will keep one eye on whatever you add to this board.
Will it encourage people to log in? Which they have to, to purchase
Yep. It might give greater incentive to log in, and even greater incentive to create an account, before any intent to buy. This should help Amazon, allowing them to market to users sooner in the lifetime customer journey than they used to.
And if you're not logged in and try to collect stuff?
You get a split-second too long looking at this interstitial, before being directed to Amazon sign-in. It's not much, but it's noticeable and feels a bit buggy.
Will it be monetised for merchants?
We all know Amazon is making use of advertising much more. It used to be a closed shop, but garnered so much user data that advertising now makes for a large chunk of its revenue. The 'Featured' board in Collections, or the main, non-curated, categories could eventually be used to present merchant pins (oops, I mean 'items') fairly prominently.
Will it drive sales better than Pinterest because it is inherently commercial/materialist?
Pinterest makes money because people buy stuff after seeing it on a Pinboard. However, there's also a ton of stuff on Pinterest that isn't, directly, about selling anything.
There's also a ton of content on Pinterest that isn't particularly visual, and doesn't appeal to that consumerist, shelf-picking instinct. Take Econsultancy, for example, we list some articles and reports on Pinterest, because we feel the user base is too big to ignore. But we recognise that often our boards aren't as pretty as Nike's, for example.
I like the fact that Amazon Collections is cut and dry about selling. The user knows what to expect, and what to do.
Will Pinterest be affected?
I'm guessing no. I don't know what percentage of Pinterest links go to Amazon, but I suspect not that high a proportion. Pinterest might lose a few merchants who begin to focus solely on Amazon, but some will feel they annoyingly have to curate both, meaning more trials for the small business owner in search of traffic.
Is this the death of Canopy?
Techcrunch points out that startup Canopy might have no more USP. It's a lovely website that aggregates Amazon content for a nice shopping experience. Unfortunately this is all now available with more immediacy through Collections.