learn from Amazon


Amazon has become a staple in the eCommerce industry; however, this success hasn’t come easy. Thanks to 22 years trying different things — some that failed and others that didn’t — Amazon has found success. Today, it’s reported that fifty-five percent of people start their product search on Amazon. From reviews to their worldwide known Prime program, they have found the secret sauce to sell. Instead of reinventing the wheel, let’s discover what Amazon is doing right and what we can learn from it.

Personalization Is Key

Personalization is one of the key persuasive strategies in any sales situation. It’s the reason why salespeople ask potential customers questions like “What do you usually wear?” or “What styles do you like?” They want to be able to tailor or personalize their answer to better fit what the potential customer is looking for. We learn from Amazon that personalized answers increase the chances of conversions, and it makes for a better customer shopping experience.

So, what can we do in the online retail world to personalize the visitor’s experience? We can use recommendations to guide users to the right products, help them discover new ones, and increase average order value. We learn from Amazon the ideal example for using recommendations. Since its early stages, the eCommerce giant has been using recommendations to power up the user’s experience. They have previously reported that a 29% sales increase was due to their integrated recommendations into nearly every part of the purchasing experience.

Amazon uses different types of recommendations according to user’s interactions, such as: purchase history, items in shopping cart, and favorited products — and those are just the ones they use on the site.

Amazon also uses email to send tailored recommendations to encourage customers to come back. Fortunately, many of these recommendations can be implemented in small retail sites. For example, eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce offer recommendations apps that can be easily installed in an eCommerce store. Learn from Amazon and use the recommendations that they use below as inspiration:

Recommendations based on my search history:

learn from amazon search history

Recommendations based on my purchase history:

learn from amazon purchase history

Enhance Your Browsing Experience with an Organized Site Structure and Optimized Search Bar

The quality of an eCommerce browsing experience is dictated by the organization and structure of the site. Have a poor site organizational structure, and your customers won’t be able to find anything in your store and will probably end up exiting your site. Have a neat and user-friendly structure, and your customers will be able to find products faster and potentially end up buying more products than expected. Also, it encourages customers to return to your online store to make future purchases.

Furthermore, we learn from Amazon that an organized structure also helps with search engine optimization or SEO. It helps search engines crawl websites faster and easier, which is vital for ranking online. Also, search engines know that a neat structure makes for a better user experience, which is key to good rankings and of course, more sales.

Amazon is aware of all these benefits and has created a user-friendly structure, mainly powered by their search bar. One of its key features is being able to use the search bar in specific categories. So, if I search for “brushes” in beauty and care, I would get a very different result than searching for “brushes” in the kitchen category.

This smart bar also accounts for misspellings and provides a list of recommendations similar to the ones shown by search engines. Thus, if I’m browsing using a generic keyword like brushes, the system gives me a set of recommendations such as “makeup brushes” or “cleaning brush.” This helps users discover new products they may not even have in mind.

Intermediary category pages can help guide users to the right sections without becoming overwhelmed by a big list of different categories. Once the user clicks on a category, then more categories are shown according to the previous selection. In this way, options are given in steps to prevent overwhelming the user with information. Studies show that giving too many choices at once can be demotivating and paralyze decision making, reducing conversions.

Reviews Are Powerful, Convincing Tools

Coming as no surprise, online reviews are powerful tools to persuade visitors to make a purchase. Similar to how you would ask a family member or friend for advice before making a purchase decision, online reviews provide the social proof visitors need before buying a product.

Social proof is so important that experts like psychology professor Robert Cialdini have pinpointed it as one of the six pillars of influence. Good reviews mean more customer influence, which means higher conversions. Other tools you can use to create social proof are showcasing the number of followers or showing user generated content like in an Instagram feed.

If you thought online reviews may not be for you, you may want to think again. Reviews are almost becoming a must-have, with 70% of customers consulting reviews or ratings before making a final purchase. Also, 63% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. Smart online retailers must implement reviews on their site and use them wisely.

Amazon has been a leader in the review trend, showcasing reviews on all their product listings and even going to the extent of rewarding sellers with good reviews and penalizing sellers with bad ones. We learn from Amazon that one of the key things to do is making the ratings very visible by showcasing stars below products:

learn from amazon reviews

Easy Checkout Process

Convincing a customer to add products to their cart is just half the battle. Then we encounter the final crucial step: checking out. If your checkout process is not as smooth as possible, you’ll risk losing the customer … maybe for good.

The first thing you should consider is offering a guest checkout option. A study found that 30% of users abandoned their carts when asked to sign-up before checkout. Offering guest checkout can help you gain the trust new customers need to make their first-time purchase.

Another thing we learn from Amazon is saving payment forms like Amazon does. This helps create a faster checkout and helps to reduce hesitation. In a couple of clicks, the customer can check out and get a confirmation by email. Another effective strategy used by Amazon in their checkout process is using the cart page to recommend additional products related to the items in the cart:

learn from amazon related products

This strategy enables online retailers to encourage customers to add last-minute items to their cart, thus increasing their order value.

Shipping Options

According to an online retail study, 9 out of 10 of the survey participants said free shipping was the No. 1 incentive when asked what would make them shop online more often. Consumers want fast and free shipping, which are two offers Amazon has used to outshine its competition. With their vast amount of facilities across the U.S. and their smart logistics system, they have been able to reign in an area that many online retailers consider a challenge.

Although you may not have the resources Amazon does, you can still learn from Amazon and use different methods to offer better shipping choices for your customers.

Start by being clear about your shipping offers. Do you offer free shipping? Free shipping when reaching a certain dollar amount? Don’t be afraid to be upfront about it if you don’t offer free shipping on all orders. Customers will appreciate the transparency and try to fulfill your requirements to get what they want. For example, Amazon uses messages like the one below to indicate shipping expectations:

learn from amazon shipping

Not only that; they also create urgency by giving a timeframe to place an order and get the product on a specific day.

The important thing is to consider is how to offer an appealing free shipping option. Whether it’s buying $10, $20, or $50, make it an amount that is fairly easy to achieve by purchasing a couple of products. You don’t want your free shipping option to be so inaccessible that it pushes customers away.

Subscribe and Save

Amazon’s subscribe and save program allows customers to set up regularly scheduled product deliveries. Many consumers get products they know they’ll have to restock recurrently, such as toilet paper, detergent, or toothpaste. There are many benefits to offering a subscription service like this one.

To start, you can save on advertising money and time trying to get existing customers to come back to your store. Additionally, it provides your business a competitive advantage over the competition, and it makes your store “sticky” in customer’s mind.

Note that a subscription program doesn’t have to be strictly for products that have to be renewed every week or month. We learn from Amazon that subscriptions can also work for consumers who just want something new every month or want to be surprised and not waste time thinking of which products to buy. This is the case with clothing subscriptions and monthly crates. For a monthly fee, you can offer customers a new set of clothing every month.

Put it All Together

As you have seen, you don’t need to have an Amazon budget or resources to apply some of the key strategies they use in their platform. With some work, you can also offer a personalized shopping experience, attractive shipping options, easy checkout process, and product reviews to your customers.


Ron is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Visiture. He is supported by a team of creative geniuses that strive to help clients achieve new levels of success. His passion is helping eCommerce business owners and marketing professionals navigate the search marketing landscape and use data to make more effective decisions to drive new traffic and conversions. Follow him @Visiture_Search


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1 thought on “How Online Retailers Can Learn from Amazon

  1. Even personally, I would go to the reviews first before going ahead and making the final purchase. It’s a must have. Implementing reviews and making them visible results to more sales.

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