Why You Can’t Just Copy Amazon.com


The Tuitive team is still trying to settle down after this year’s South By South West Interactive (SXSWi) conference in March. We all had a great time and learned a lot about the interactive community and what is coming next. There were loads of interesting sessions from a panel with the Gmail team to

Cooking for Nerds, many of which have been popping up online.  I wanted to share one of my favorites with you.

Revealing Design Treasures from the Amazon by Jared Spool

Jared Spool is a leader in the User Experience world, specifically in the quantitative research space. He has been working with Amazon.com for many years, analyzing their traffic patterns and trying improve the user experience of Amazon shoppers. His talk had two major points.

  1. He pointed out the interesting things that Amazon does with new features and constantly implementing tiny changes to improve the user’s experience.
  2. He also discussed that you can’t do the same things as Amazon and expect to be successful.

Why can’t we all just copy Amazon? In one word “traffic.”

Amazon has had 71,431,000 visitors since December of 2008. They have served 76,000,000 customers since they launched. There are 24 orders placed every second. Does your website have those kind of traffic numbers?

Mine either.

The best example Jared uses is user generated reviews. Most people find reviews to be very help when buying online, and the user reviews on Amazon are highly regarded. So why can’t you just add user reviews on you site? Jared cites research that shows having less than 20 reviews about a product does not actually help people decide if a product is what they want. In some cases it actually reduces the positive perception of the item.

He continues to share that only about 1 in 1,300 purchasers actually write a review. Think about how many online reviews you have writen versus how many you have read. So in order to get those 20 reviews to help the sale of an item you will need to have 1.3 Million people buy an item. Whoa.

I encourage you to watch Jared’s presentation (see below). He is very clever and easy to listen to.

I also encourage you to make sure you are always improving your online products in ways that make the most sense for your particular site. Every site is different, it has different users and those users have different needs.   There is no magic bullet feature for success online. The only way to ensure your success is listening to your users, and continually improving the tools they need to complete their tasks.

What do you think?

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