Social Amazon

Web2.0 Might Just Have Gained It’s Great­est Ally Yet.

Web2.0 might just have gained it’s great­est ally yet. Some­where over the last week (to the best of my knowl­edge) Amazon.com has added sev­er­al new fea­tures of social net­work­ing. That would make them, I think, the first online retail­er to make use of this aspect of trendy Web2.0. I’d say, giv­en how influ­en­tial Ama­zon’s cus­tomer rat­ings and reviews are, they’ve been mak­ing use of social-web all along. How­ev­er, here they are active­ly try­ing to engage their cus­tomers and users into help­ing make them a strong con­sumer resource and, hope­ful­ly for them, a more dom­i­nant retail­er.

Ama­zon has been around for quite a while in terms of the inter­net, and they are often seen as any­thing but cut­ting edge. Google is the brain-trust of the inter­net these days. Yahoo! has once again become a dar­ling, although prob­a­bly because they bought every­one’s dar­ling, Flickr. eBay buys Skype to facil­i­tate bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tions between buy­ers and sell­ers. So many oth­er com­pa­nies and sites are seen as doing all the bleed­ing edge work. How­ev­er, Ama­zon con­sis­tent­ly proves itself as one of the most amaz­ing places on the inter­net. The sell pret­ty much every­thing on the plan­et that can be deliv­ered on a truck or dig­i­tal­ly. In the UK, they even have a Net­flix-like DVD rental store. They could get into music and movie down­loads with almost the touch of a but­ton1. What’s more amaz­ing, is the fact that they’ve done all this with­out real­ly ever acquir­ing any oth­er com­pa­ny. It’s been Ama­zon all the way.

What’s more, they love their cus­tomers and they seem to enjoy what their cus­tomers do for them. They’ve main­tained a data­base-like store that they allow oth­er’s to access for their own uses. They have always wel­comed cus­tomer reviews and com­ments, even when less-than-favor­able. That has been one of the cor­ner-stones of Ama­zon’s suc­cess, in my opin­ion. The wide­ly held view that what­ev­er you say on Ama­zon gets left there. So, what’s next for every­body’s best friend who just nev­er seems to get invit­ed to the cool par­ties any­more?

Tag, You’re It!

Add a tag to describe the Canon ZR200

Add a tag word to describe the Canon ZR200 at Amazon.com. Many items now have this fea­ture.

First, they’ve added the abil­i­ty for users to add “tags” to prod­ucts. These tags can be pub­lic or pri­vate and could add more search able data to indi­vid­ual prod­ucts. A per­son who read a nice review in Wired mag­a­zine could tag a prod­uct “wired” for any­one else who also want­ed anoth­er way to find that prod­uct they remem­bered read­ing some­thing about, but just could­n’t remem­ber the man­u­fac­tur­er or mod­el name. The pos­si­bil­i­ties spi­ral from there.

Update 2005-12-06: I noticed today that tags were miss­ing from var­i­ous prod­uct pages on Amazon.com. I guess these are all very much in Beta at this point.

Where’s That Wiki?

Now Amazon users can add not only reviews, but all sorts of product information.

Now Ama­zon’s users have a place to share the wealth of knowl­edge they’ve gained using prod­ucts avail­able there.

Much more qui­et­ly, they’re adding prod­uct Wik­i’s writ­ten by users for any giv­en prod­uct. Far too many prod­uct reviews have tips, hacks, and exter­nal data that real­ly does­n’t fall under review infor­ma­tion. The fact that third-par­ty firmware makes my router more handy real­ly isn’t a review of the router in-of-itself. How­ev­er, that infor­ma­tion is still very handy to know, plus where to get it and some brief instruc­tions on installing it. Again, the only lim­its on func­tion­al­i­ty are by the users’ cre­ativ­i­ty. How­ev­er, if you know that Ama­zon has loads of tips and tricks on the par­tic­u­lar hard­ware you’re look­ing for, you’re liable to stick around the web site just that much longer and Ama­zon knows this.

How well does this scale to oth­er prod­ucts? How far does your cre­ativ­i­ty lead you? I don’t mean to sound like some bad dot-com era com­mer­cial, but we just don’t know how use­ful this can be until cus­tomers get their hands on it. How­ev­er, the Wiki has been very hard to find. I found it while brows­ing for a Canon cam­corder a few days ago (when I grabbed this screen­shot), but noticed it was nowhere to be found on the same page this evening. Oth­er’s have noticed this phe­nom­e­non as well; some say­ing that it depends on which com­put­er you use. Of course, I’m on my same desk­top and it has come and gone, so I’m not sure about that. No ones seems to have actu­al­ly entered any­thing into one just as of yet2. I real­ly want to get my hands on this thing and try it out.

Amazon Listened To Me

Last­ly, as if my prayers were answered, Ama­zon has added a “Gift Lists” fea­ture that allows users to keep track of the Wish Lists of friends and fam­i­ly (or who­ev­er) as well as add “occa­sions” (i.e. — birth­days, anniver­saries, valen­tine’s, etc.) and save gift ideas for that indi­vid­ual. Of course, the tim­ing for the hol­i­days is pret­ty obvi­ous, and that is cer­tain­ly where a fea­ture such as this is most use­ful. How­ev­er, how well this fea­ture is imple­ment­ed, I can’t say. I’ve only so-far been able to add sev­er­al peo­ple to my Gift Orga­niz­er (that’s where you’ll look for this thing, by the way). I don’t know if you get some sort of nice e‑mail reminder days before their birth­day with the top sev­er­al items on the list or any gift ideas you’ve added for them. That would be nice (and insane­ly easy for Ama­zon to imple­ment, not to men­tion near­ly cost-free for them).

The only item on my wish list now, is that Jason J. and I had got­ten on this project and beat­en Ama­zon to it. Oh well. Maybe I’ll send them a Christ­mas card this year since they got me some­thing.

Amazon Forums

One last item in Beta at Ama­zon is Cus­tomer Dis­cus­sions. I’ve not seen much at all of this myself, but I think it’s also pret­ty self-explana­to­ry (you can see some more here). Here, you could ask the net about all sorts of prod­uct that might not oth­er­wise have forums. Sure, peo­ple dis­cuss iPods and Linksys routers all over the net, but what if you want to know more specifics about a book or movie? If you’re think­ing about look­ing of a place to dis­cuss those by search­ing at Google, then you obvi­ous­ly can under­stand how Ama­zon can cap­i­tal­ize on yet even more traf­fic here. Want to know if the lat­est Har­ry Pot­ter book is too scary for your eight-year-old? Ask oth­er Ama­zon users right on the pro­duc­t’s page, or per­haps some­one’s already done the ask­ing.

  1. Okay, obvi­ous­ly not that easy, but like­ly with less grow­ing pain than any­one else. []
  2. Those con­sumer advo­cates over at Church of the Cus­tomer Blog may have actu­al­ly been able to get into one. How­ev­er, they’re screen­shot leave a lot to be desired. []

Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Native Amer­i­can tribes of the Huala­pai Nation are build­ing a giant hor­shoe-shaped glass walk­way on part of the reser­va­tion in order to attract tourism. What makes this even more amaz­ing is the fact that this part of their land is 4,000 feet above the base of the Grand Canyon. The bridge is a struc­tur­al engi­neer­ing mar­vel you’re shure to see some Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel spe­cials about in the future. I can’t wait to walk across this when com­plet­ed ear­ly next year (2006).

This struc­ture is so incred­i­ble as to have an entire arti­cle devot­ed to it at Snopes.com, the inter­net myth clear­ing house.

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