Amazon and its investment in 21st century longevity

Joshua Porter has an interesting response to this NYT article, which points out that, based on recent research by Forrester, 52% of all online purchases are researched on Amazon – clearly an astounding number.

Peer reviews are one of the main drawcards here, its not what Amazon has to say, or how the website frames the product that matters, its what Amazon’s community of contributors are doing around these products, and how that information is aggregated that draws the traffic to the site.

And reviews are not the only way that Amazon are adding context to their products.

Showing the other products that were purchased with any particular item, as well as the myriad other rich user-derived data that Amazon surround their wares with – this is where they are adding value that, right now, other sites cannot compete with.

There is a lot to be said for the cultural contextualisation that is going on here – positioning the product in relation to the mindset of the user’s peers.

Whether the item is ultimately purchased on their site or not – and clearly a lot of the time it is – is not really the only factor to consider here. CEO Jeff Bezos knows this better than anybody, which is why he’s sunk so much time, money and energy over the years perfecting the customer experience on his site.

The brand value associated with hosting the web’s most authoritative page for so many items – essentially a massive social network for inanimate objects – cannot be measured in transactions. Amazon’s repeat business, as well the average spend by Amazon users is growing at more-than-healthy rate, and in today’s experience-driven economy, that’s a sign of healthy business principles.

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