Sunday, September 16, 2012

Amazon's Recommendation Engine: Serving Us While Conducting Research

A Quote To Keep In Mind

In Kellogg On Branding (page 73), Tim Calkins states: “Buyers do not always consider all the options, weigh them carefully, and reach a deliberate choice in the conventional sense of rationality. Moreover, buyers do not always know what they want. Instead, individuals learn what they like, and they learn how to choose.”

The New Era Of Customer Research

When it comes to customer research, there are many ways to find the information you need. There are surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups, all of which have been a typical route in the past for many companies. However, many customers find this irritating. Unless I am specifically interested in a company, I do not want them calling me to ask for information. I want to go to the company myself and provide input as desired.

Today’s smart customer research is all about accessibility. Surveys and questionnaires can be skewed. Focus groups work, but the times are changing. Today, customers want their own customer research tools. How is this done? By creating a killer website that allows the customers to navigate for themselves, see options of products, and give opinions accordingly.

I realize that surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups should not be ruled out. They are still important; however, having websites that allow for engagement and interaction will help the company in the long run. Online shopping has become such an important staple to consumers now, thus it is important to engage with your customers as much as possible through the website.

Amazon's Recommendation Engine: A Beautiful Thing

Click Here For Original Website

Take for example: Amazon. They a recommendation engine, which “processes huge quantities of customer insight every day, is viewed not as a crude cross-selling device but as a valuable service identifying products which otherwise might have been missed” (Research-Live). This recommendation engine easily became my friend when I shopped on Amazon’s website. It is simple, yet connects my experience to another potential experience that I can have later on if I choose to buy something like my original product. It keeps me interested, and it makes me feel as if Amazon is monitoring my purchases to find other things that I may desire.

Click Here For Original Website

This is an example of a personal experience that I share with Amazon every time that I go on their website. It is not just a place for me to wander aimlessly, looking for the right product. Amazon takes my interests into consideration and creates a mini-database that is catered specifically to me. I develop a love for the company because of this.

Connecting Our Love Of Customization To Customer Research

How is this all connected? It's easy. Amazon has come up with the perfect strategy: pleasing their customers by creating an easy-to-navigate page that keeps their customers coming back for more. The upside? They are conducting research as well. Not only are they "connecting the dots" for their customers by finding similar products that may help in their journey for the perfect product, they are also connecting the dots for themselves. By using this customization tool, they are creating a better experience for customers in the future. As more and more people use Amazon, the more the company learns about our buying patterns. Simply, they are teaching us to (as Calkins said) learn how to choose our products, and we are teaching them how to appeal to the everyday Amazon customer.

Amazon has done their research: consumers like customizable features. Like Calkins said, they also need to learn how to choose the products they like. Not only am I coming to Amazon to shop and find other things that I may like, but they are coming to their customers to research as well. It is an incredible example of how to receive customer research, while maintaining a personal relationship with the customer at the same time.

Amazon also tracks spending periods. For example, if I buy something at Amazon each month, the company notices this. They then might send me an email asking if I want to set up an automatic shopping experience that allows for the product of my choice to be shipped to me at the same time each month. In short, Amazon is educating its consumers on the importance of the personal relationship. They have conducted their research well enough to know that customers enjoy suggestions and extra care. As a result, many companies have followed suit to copy Amazon's personalization idea.

I may be looking at a product that I like, but I may not know enough information about it. In comes the Amazon recommendation bar, which asks, “What about this?” It piques my interest, therefore I look at this product instead. Oh, this is ACTUALLY what I want and need. Thanks Amazon!


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