Wednesday, 17 November 2004
What's Going on at Amazon?
I tend to use shopping carts at online stores as to-buy lists; if I’m interested in something, I’ll hold it there and muse on it for a while. This lets me build up an order over time and get it shipped in one go; I won’t buy everything at once, but eventually, everything gets bought.
From a retailer perspective, I can only imagine that this is like music to the ears. Having someone use your site to save their shopping list is a gold mine; you get to see what they’re interested in, and they tend to come back to you a whole lot more, because they’ve built up a lot of state.
For various reasons, I’ve chosen Amazon for this task. Over time, I’ve built up a list of something like 90 items that — one day — I’ll buy there. Books. Toys for Charlie. DVDs. Cameras, computer parts, and other electronic gadgets. All waiting for the day when I get the nerve up (OK, permission) to spend some dosh.
Now, Amazon does warn us that the shopping cart isn’t good forever;
Items remain in your Shopping Cart for 90 days.
But I’ve had some of this stuff in there for well over a year; most of it lives in the “Save for Later” basket.
Well, Later has apparently come and passed; I finally made a choice about my next digital camera, and upon adding it to my shopping basket, discovered that — wait for it — the camera was the only thing in there. 90 items, waiting to be bought and bring Amazon revenue and customer loyalty, just gone.
Luckily, I’ve copied most of the books that I want over to the neighborhood library’s wish list, courtesy of LibraryLookup.
What’s going on up there? If someone trusts you to keep their state, and you want to keep that relationship, you keep that state. Right now, I’m still telling myself that it’s just a glitch, but as the minutes slip by, I’m losing faith. I don’t care that they have cool, edgy movies on the home page; is trustworthiness too much to ask?
Yet another reason for people to demand reasonable import and export of data with online services; just wait for the day GMail does this to you.
P.S. This is the second time Amazon has pissed me off.
UPDATE: It’s fixed! Whether it was just a temporary glitch or Mike’s intervention payed off, I have my shopping cart back. Thanks MIke and Amazonians!
FWIW, I went back and looked at the wishlist functionality, and it’s obviously changed since I last peeked, because it’s easy to move items back to your cart. I still prefer the “save for later” list, because I don’t want to expose what I’m buying to the world, and it’s “closer” to the shopping cart; I often shift things back and forth between “save for later” and the shopping cart, fine-tuning my current order.
WRT the 90-day limit, it might be good to fine-tune the wording; it’s not clear if it applies to just the shopping cart proper, or also the “save for later” list.
Finally, with both the “save for later” and wish lists, it would be really, really nice if you could view more than 10 items at a time. But I’m not complaining…