We’re Amazon addicts here at Gloo. I can’t remember a day where we haven’t had many of those familiar brown packages arrive. Personally I’ve used Amazon from the very start, and joined Amazon Prime just after it launched in 2007. A quick look at my history shows that I’ve already placed 53 orders in 2016—my record is 240 orders in a year. It’s fair to say that I like Amazon a lot, but it’s far from perfect.
I used to use Amazon as an example of getting eCommerce right but haven’t for years. The interface has grown more cluttered while other retailers have launched beautiful, slick online-shopping experiences. And other differentiators, like next day delivery, have become table stakes. But that’s not why I’m not loyal to Amazon, despite our 16-year history.
My question is: why are Amazon recommendations so bad? I’ve bought thousands of things, you’d think that they’d know me pretty well by now. But looking at my recommendations today made me despair. A couple of weeks ago I bought some scrubs to go the the Secret Cinema showing of 28 Days Later. Today my recommendations include all kinds of scrubs (including ones for women), stethoscopes, and DVDs of just about every hospital-based drama from the last 10 years. Seriously? This is worse than the time that I bought a drill and then half of my recommendations were drills, including the same drill in different colours—drills are not something I’d ever thought of coordinating with my outfit.
I don’t think that I’m being unreasonable, but I do expect more from Amazon than other retailers. That’s because Amazon isn’t just a retailer, it’s an IT giant. Amazon Web Services (AWS) was a pioneer in cloud and today sells billions of dollars of public cloud services each year. So with all the data—and we’re talking very big data—that it has got, why can’t it get recommendations right? I understand the challenges, but there’s no excuse for suggesting Dirty Grandpa because I’d bought Spotlight.
So why do I stick with Amazon? Loyalty? No, convenience.