Capn Design

Entries tagged Amazon

Amazon Source and the Future of Bookstores

Amazon has introduced a new program for booksellers which lets them purchase Kindles at a 6% discount and earn 10% on any ebook purchased over the next 2 years. If you put the numbers aside, this appears to be Amazon’s attempt at letting booksellers focus on what they do best: recommend books and create a space for book lovers.

Imagine a bookstore that only sold beautiful objects, coffee, and advice. I’m sure they’d host book clubs and have author events. Amazon can’t replicate any of these things very well over the internet—they try hard to do advice, but recommendation software is still an unsolved problem—so they leave it to independents.

If there was a way for a bookstore to make enough money selling these things, then everyone wins. It seems like Source is just a point in a long conversation; it’s imperfect but it’s pushing us closer to an answer.

[via kottke]

Amazon Stops Bad Gifts

There aren’t a lot of details yet, but the system, revealed via a patent announcement, would give the recipient an opportunity to stop an unwanted gift or correct a size before it’s ever shipped. I don’t know why it needs patent, as this is really a design problem. Even the most beautiful email isn’t the same as ripping apart wrapping paper. On the other hand, this feature is great.

A user could also create a setting where any gift from a specified sender on is automatically converted into gift cards or other items.

It would be awesome if your grandma gave you a peppermint candle maker and you could have it automatically turned into Grand Theft Auto IV. She might be a bit confused when you sent a thank you card, but you’ll be much happier.

Kindle to Support Lending

This will be a differentiator between eBook services down the road. Movies are a social experience, so sharing is not quite as important. Also, we’re trending towards a subscription-based cloud model. Microsoft tried sharing with the Zune and it was the one thing people loved, so I am hoping we’ll see something here. For books, it’s going to be an issue. People tend to read them once and pass them on, so I’m curious to see how this progresses.

[Later] this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable - this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.

I can only lend it once for 14 days? Lame, but I guess it’s a start.

Amazon's Approach to Product Development

A Quora user wonders and the head of Amazon’s gifting business answers. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but they start with the consumer and work backwards.

For new initiatives a product manager typically starts by writing an internal press release announcing the finished product. The target audience for the press release are the new/updated product’s customers, which can be retail customers or internal users of a tool or technology. Internal press releases are centered around the customer problem, how current solutions (internal or external) fail, and how the new product will blow away existing solutions.

In discussing this with a coworker, he brought up the issue that a customer may not actually ask for the thing they want. I agree, but what they ask for is always telling. If they say, “I want to see 3,000 items per page,” that doesn’t mean you give it to them, but it does mean your site is probably too slow. [via @irondavy]

This is How I'd Want to Find Out my Company Was Acquired

Posted July 1, 2010

Yesterday, woot! announced their acquisition by Amazon in a fantastic blog post. I mean, really fantastic. I shall excerpt several awesome bits now, but please read it all. I implore you.

We think now is the right time to join with Amazon because, quite simply, every company that becomes a subsidiary gets two free downloads until the end of July, and we very much need that new thing with Trent Reznor’s wife on our iPods.


[D]on’t worry that our culture will suddenly take a leap forward and become cutting-edge. We’re still going to be the same old bottom-feeders our customers and readers have come to know and love, and each and every one of their pre-written insult macros will still be just as valid in a week, two weeks, or even next year. For Woot, our vision remains the same: somehow earning a living on snarky commentary and junk.

Okay, that’s all you get. You have to read the post now.

Update: I forgot about the rapping monkey.

Encouraging Useful Reviews

Posted May 4, 2009

Flipping through ma tweets, I found this one from Jeffrey Zeldman (which I presume came from Jared Spool at An Event Apart Seattle):

1 in 1,300 purchasers writes a review. With a standard 2 percent conversion rate, you need 3 million visitors a day to get useful reviews.

Reading that made me think about how I almost never write reviews, especially for products. The only times I do write reviews is when I have something to gain.

Amazon Beard Trimmer ReviewFor others, respect provides enough motivation, which is why Amazon implemented badges. Having 'Real Name' and 'Top 500 Reviewer' beside your username commands some respect and ensures authenticity. This is really helpful for those seeking reviews, but not for most who should be writing them.

Currently, there is not much for me to gain by writing reviews on Amazon. My friends run in other circles and there's just not enough time in the day. Now, if there was a financial motivation, this would be another story.

Amazon Reviewing Associates

Amazon runs a successful referral program that allows you to generate money when people buy products from your links. I don't have any numbers to back this up, but it's safe to assume that the money Amazon loses in referral fees are made up in a reduced advertising and marketing budget. My dad, a car dealer, used to say it takes $250 just to get someone in the door. Amazon's number is probably significantly less, but they also have significantly more customers.

If driving traffic to content is this valuable, shouldn't accurate reviews of a product be rewarded as well? Getting a customer in the door is an important step, but closing the sale is just as crucial.

I propose that Amazon rewards users whose reviews are deemed most helpful and the people who find those reviews first. Mr. Spool, the man who inspired the tweet above, made the case that helpful reviews account for $2.7 billion in revenue. Even if this is high, it's obviously in Amazon's best interest to encourage these.

If I could make $5-10 a month writing reviews for Amazon products, I'd be writing a whole lot more of them. Even if that number petered out after a while, I'd likely still continue once I got in the swing of things. In fact, it seems that an outside company could make money with their own recommendation engine using this system. If they were to share the referral rewards and place some subtle ads, there'd probably be a pretty good business.

The thing I like best about this idea is that everybody wins. Amazon sells more products, active community members get rewarded and I'm more likely to buy the best beard trimmer.

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