Online shopping has never really strived to be as visually alluring as our old friend the catalogue, where glossy spreads can display all potential throw-pillow and divan possibilities in one luscious photograph. Online retailers have long relied on the simple thumbnail list method, floating purchasables on a white background--difficult to picture in one's home until it arrives via 2-day shipping. Perhaps sensing a craving among consumers for potent visual stimuli, Pinterest arrived, half social network, half retail hub, whose galleries allow users to pick and choose objects--paintings, coffee cups, placemats, etc., etc.--that go well together, in a beautiful way.
Hence, Amazon Stream, the "everything" store's foray into gallery-based visual marketing a la Pinterest. The emphasis is on the visual, but the actual specs of the service are somewhat different from those of its forebears.
Amazon Stream: The Rundown
- The service is not user-based. It's a feed run by Amazon, and all of the featured items are "promoted" by companies. In order to have an item featured, you basically need to buy an ad with Amazon.
- As you scroll through the gallery, you can "save" items you might be interested in buying. Once the item is saved, it stays on your saved list on the stream page, and also copies over to your wishlist, where you can buy it in one click (if you so choose).
- So far there's only three categories: Women, Men, and All. The gender filters pretty much apply to clothes and jewelry. Click All and you get household goods. For an "everything" store, Stream doesn't yet seem to apply to other big retail areas like tech, books, or even toys and clothes for children.
Though the service just seems to be in beta, one can imagine the ways Amazon might benefit from visual tactics - "Beautiful Things, Every Day." With more organization, more filters, and more opportunities for users to curate their own lists, Amazon may find a way for creativity to be part of the routine online shopping experience. Users on Amazon used to be able to do this in at least one area: book lists ("Top 10 Stephen King Novels" - etc) that were written by users. In the future, what if you could plan a tiki party in your backyard using one-click shopping? Such a move seems practically inevitable for Amazon. Perhaps Stream is just the tip of the iceberg.
See it here: http://amazon.com/stream