Amazon is expanding its web and app discovery capabilities with yet another evolution of its curation approach, TechCrunch reports.
Amazon's gift- and novelty-focused “Interesting Finds” page now benefits from human curation as well as the e-commerce giant's algorithms, and its “save” button is now a heart — an approach TechCrunch inevitably compares to Pinterest, as well as gift-finding curation site Canopy.
Amazon has launched and reiterated various such landing pages — all described as “Pinterest-like” —starting with Collections in 2013. Last year the company launched an apparel-focused Stream page and an Exclusives page featuring goods from inventors or artisans selling exclusively through Amazon.
Amazon is a juggernaut that, after first disrupting retail two decades ago, continues to vex rivals as it captures an increasingly more massive (and sticky) customer base through its benefits-rich Prime subscriber program and sets the standard for price and convenience, despite having very few physical stores. Analysts say that’s why Amazon likely isn't sweating Wal-Mart’s recent $3 billion acquisition of e-commerce upstart Jet, which began life a little over a year ago as a direct challenge to Amazon’s dominance.
But a few of those same experts also said that Amazon’s workaday website will soon no longer cut it in an increasingly image-focused, discovery-enabled and “Pinterest-like” e-commerce world. Amazon enjoys primacy in search that often beats Google itself when it comes to shopping, but consumers increasingly have more choices of well-curated, sharply-focused portals for shopping.
“In the end, I don’t feel that any real threats to Amazon will come in the form of other e-commerce players using the same essential models,” retail futurist Doug Stephens told Retail Dive in an email. “What could disrupt Amazon is a challenger that comes along and transforms the way people shop online. Companies like Magic Leap, for example, are working on augmented reality technology that sounds like it could be gamechanging in terms of the shopping experience, and they’re backed by Alibaba.”
Mark Cohen, professor of retail studies at Columbia University, agrees, and suggested that in fact Amazon’s bread-and-butter approach to web commerce may soon fail to pass muster with online consumers. That could be especially true considering that Amazon has entered the field of fashion, a category notoriously dependent on a narrative shaped by compelling images, and it's only being amplified in an era when consumers increasingly expect to be captivated by brands through images, video and even augmented reality experiences.
“I would expect Amazon to work on significantly enhancing the connection customers have with their site, whether it’s enhanced reality, a way for a viewer to examine products in 3D, or animating the site more aggressively more than they do now,” Cohen said.