I think one of the most misunderstood thing by businesses analyzing Amazon’s business model is the balance between quantity of inventory and the quality of their merchandising.
Yes, Amazon sells a ton of stuff. In fact, the site has over 53 million pages indexed in Google, and it’s safe to assume that a large number of those pages are product display pages. Impressive. And clearly, just by carrying products in your inventory at a fair price you’ll manage to move some product.
However, it’s not the quantity of inventory but the quality that sets it apart from other online retailers. It’s not enough to carry a product in a world where your competition is only a few clicks away. This is where Amazon excels. They do such an incredible job with merchandising that they’ve become the default place for researching consumer from books to diapers.
This is a quick list of 50 product page features I see on the Canon SD870 Digital Camera product page:
1. Original price
2. Current price
3. 5 photos
4. 43 Customer uploaded photos
5. Link to related products by same manufacturer
6. Delivery time information.
7. A discount offer.
8. 31 different retailers selling this camera in addition to Amazon
9. Gift Wrapping option.
10. Option to sell your own camera through their site.
11. Bundling of accessories: battery, tripod, SD card.
12. Links to what people ACTUALLY bought after checking out that camera.
13. Links to compare cameras
14. Links to similar items.
15. Camera specs
16. Product details
17. 198 customer reviews
18. Sales rank of product
19. Date camera was first listed for sale
20. Option to update product or image information
21. Manufacturer’s product description
22. Other variations (different color in this case)
23. Add to Cart options for many related accessories and service plans.
24. Display of 45 other products people who bought this product purchased.
25. Categories this product falls within
26. Ads for other sites selling this product.
27. Tags that help define this product.
28. Option to rate the product or signify that you already own it.
29. Syndicated review from DPreview.
30. Graph illustrating how this camera has been rated by other customers.
31. Product reviews
32. That are also reviewable and sorted by their usefulness.
33. Option to create your own review.
34. Video reviews.
35. Customer review search engine.
36. Links to communities within Amazon that are interested in related subjects like Image Stabilization.
37. Links to 50 discussion topics related to this camera.
38. Link to add article to amapedia.com for this item.
39. Link to buy product on external website.
40. Links to lists customers have created that include this camera.
41. Links to Guides people have created that mention this camera.
42. Links to categories this camera falls within.
43. Links to other product categories on Amazon.
44. Ads that take people away from Amazon (but make Amazon money)
45. Feedback links, including links to help update the product’s information.
46. Links to Order tracking and account information.
47. Links to shipping and return policies.
48. Links to Gift card and help departments.
49. Links to previous browsing history.
50. Links to preview searches.
It’s no wonder why people spend so much time on Amazon and why they convert visitors to closed transactions as such a high rate.
Of course, this isn’t to say that all 50 of the above items are required to succeed in online retail. However, it’s good to have a feel for where the bar has been set today. Your customers are almost surely familiar with what online shopping CAN be like based on a previous experience with Amazon, so be ready to compete with that experience.