Friday, February 02, 2007

Amazon trying to be too much?

Paul Kedrosky posts about Amazon's quarterly numbers. I particularly agree with this part:
This is going to be a tough year for Amazon.

It is multiple companies in one -- an online retailer, an analytics company, a web services firm, etc. -- and other longer it tries to be all things (it is up to 38 categories in retail alone) the more likely it becomes that the eventual disentanglement of all these overlapping commitments becomes unpleasant to all concerned.
See also my earlier post, "Innovation and learning to love destruction", where I said:
Amazon.com, for example, has 63 links on their "all product categories" page, a confusing mess that paralyzes anyone looking for a book or DVD with irrelevant and useless choices.

Why do all these continue to exist? Why do Auctions and zShops hang around for years after they failed to attract an audience? Why do detail pages accumulate more and more "exciting new features" until I cannot find the customer reviews anymore under the sea of crap?
See also my previous post, "Doubling down at Amazon.com", about Amazon's commitment to web services and the reaction from Wall Street.

3 comments:

Andrew Hitchcock said...

I agree. While I think it is neat that Amazon is embracing and trying out all these social or "Web 2.0" features, it is becoming more difficult to find the features I'm looking for (such as release date or the rating panel).

I'm not sure they need to get rid of the features, but maybe a redesign would make it easier to navigate. Alternatively, if you could collapse certain sections (which would be remembered as you move from one product page to another), it would allow you to see only the information you want.

Nic Brisbourne said...

Lack of focus is a disease that often besets the successful. The same thing has happened at Yahoo! and Google is only saved by their devotion to a simple homepage (although I notice there has been some slippage even there).

jcricket73 said...

Let's be clear - amazon's web site blows. It blows in comparison to amazon's old website (which was a model on how to build an e-commerce site with lots of features that actually drove people to purchase more). It blows in comparison to other more specialty purpose websites.

Web 2.0, 1.0, whatever - I only shop at amazon when I know what I'm looking for already and there's some super-special deal. Otherwise, pricing and browsability are much better elsewhere.

Amazon is sorely in need of a redesign, and a culling of the less than popular features (or at least a hiding of them (a la andrew's suggestion). My guess is that the 1000 two-pizza-team-leads would scream, bitch and moan if that happened, and lord knows they're the ones amazon needs to keep happy :-)