Taking Online Personalization To the Limit
Amazon's Web site simply oozes personalization.
Customized to meet and greet returning customers as if they were
walking into their corner bookstore, the site's storefront or "introduction
page" pops up a window of recommendations, based on preferences
and past buying habits. Among the various tabs at the top of the
page is one called "<your name here>'s store," where
the company lists a wide range of products that it thinks you might
be interested in.
And that’s just scratching the surface
at Amazon, a company largely recognized as a pioneer in online personalization.
Using collaborative filtering technology to make reading recommendations
to each customer based on the purchases of other customers, the
company for years has allocated both money and resources to upgrading
its personalization capabilities and, as such, has implemented multiple
versions of a number of personalization technologies.
Amazon records what a shopper purchases and then
matches the acquisitions to the aggregated purchases of other shoppers
who have bought similar products. By comparing what an individual
shopper has purchased to aggregates of what shoppers with apparently
similar tastes have purchased, Amazon.com has come up with, for
example, a "new for you" feature. The features can suggest,
for instance, that based on a certain book purchase, a shopper might
like a certain newly released music compact disc.
Amazon shoppers also can set up lists of "trusted
friends" to see what people whose tastes they trust are buying,
and individual shoppers can set up "best-seller" lists
of favorite purchases, review them, and make the reviews public;
other shoppers can rate the reviews according to how helpful they
The strategy appears to be working. Amazon had 2007 2nd quarter net sales of $2.89 billion and has added clothing
to its mix of books, DVDs, toys and electronics products. In a time
when many other dot-coms were shutting down and their executives
returning to the "real world". Amazon persevered, boosted
its offerings and today ranks as one of just a handful of truly
successful online-only companies.