What You Can Learn From Amazon

Amazon is one of the (many!) Marmites of the internet age – for some people, it is a pioneer of ecommerce and a ground-breaker of modern retail, but for others, it is a corporate animal which destroys traditional industries. Maybe it’s because of the industry that I work in, but I tend to lean towards the former – as a digital marketer, it is difficult to be too critical of such a commercially successful website.

So what can every website learn from such an institution? Here are 4 elements that you can learn and implement fairly easily.

Navigation: This can make or break a website. When using the search bar, the navigation will offer the likely departments where that keyword would appear as well as a list of 5 popular items. This is really smart and makes finding your product as easy as typing the name of it. You might not be able to stretch to this, but think about how your customer categorise your products – not how you categorise them. If you are unsure, ask a sample of customers to tell you how they think the products should be structured.

Suggestions: This is all about linking the CRM system up to your customer-facing website. For Amazon, this is a complex algorithmic process, but for your company it might not need to be so complex. Imagine the way that you would segment your email database when you are running an email campaign – you will filter it so that your audience is relevant to your message, and this is the first stage of suggestions. It may be beyond your current IT capability but if you don’t look at it, you’ll never know!

Easy add to basket: It really is very simple, with as little as one click ordering. What Amazon do really well is not get in the way of the customer – they let the customer add it to their basket, suggest any other items that you might be interested in as you are clearly in the buying mood, choose an address, shipping speed, payment and done. Although I think Amazon could be more transparent about their shipping prices – you don’t find out the cost until the payment screen (Jeff Bezos – don’t worry about thanking me for the feedback!).

Customer reviews: Perhaps the most powerful tool that Amazon has is the scale of the customer reviews of the products that it sells. Naturally this scale is going to be difficult to build, but you should ask for reviews of your product. Seeing someone else who has bought it and had a positive experience will influence your prospective buyer positively – and yes, you need to accept the negative feedback too, but that is how you learn. Adding reviews takes nerve, but it works.

There are lots of areas which you can ‘borrow’ from massive websites – remember they are pumping millions of pounds of research into their websites, so why not learn the lessons from one of the best?