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Amazon’s design success – a billion-pound empire

Published: June 2018

When asked to name the world’s most successful retail company, most would say Amazon. With nearly half of all US online sales going through their website it’s hard to disagree.

When asked why, there are a variety of reasons from choice and cost to convenience and customer service. Few would mention design, but it is at the heart of what they do.

Below we look at Amazon’s design success and how it made Amazon a billion-pound empire.

 

Experience over aesthetic

At first glance, the website doesn’t look like it would win any design awards. Compare it to your favourite websites and it will probably be worlds apart in respect of how it looks. However Amazon’s success is based on how it functions.

The homepage looks cluttered, but everything is there for a reason, everything has a function whether it is products aimed at a specific date such as Easter or Mother’s Day or targeted products based on your past purchases.

You know that the user journey is a simple process. From opening up Amazon, to doing a product search. Comparing products and prices through the purchasing, everything is straightforward.

 

Consistency of experience

Amazon has grown massively from only selling books in 1995. Third-party sellers now make up roughly half of the sales on the site, but it doesn’t matter if you are buying books or ballet shoes, the experience is the same.

A traditional retail site would normally focus on one particular type of product. Whether it is books or shoes and can tailor the site towards that product’s key features.

You could argue that Amazon loses out by not allowing differently designed pages for the various types of products. However, customers know what they are getting and know where to look to compare products.

The search and product display features are clear and well understood. The top search bar allows you to choose the broad term of what you are looking for. Then the filters on the left-hand side allow you to narrow down your options.

The products are then displayed based on the best-selling and most viewed.

The customer reviews section is another crucial, yet simple design feature. We doubt many purchases have been made without first glancing at the star rating.

Whether you are buying directly from Amazon or from a third-party seller, the process is the same. The variances such as delivery time and cost are clearly displayed.

Responsive design means that the website experience is consistent over all devices from laptops to smartphones.

 

Innovation

Whilst the website is all about simplicity and function, that doesn’t mean that Amazon isn’t interested in innovation, far from it.

Amazon’s ‘One-click’ buying button removed numerous steps from the purchasing process. Making life a lot easier for customers and Amazon Prime and Prime Now offer not only speedy delivery to compete with the high street but also a number of services from music and film streaming to online storage.

Products such as the Kindle and the Amazon Echo range are innovative in how we use technology. A company built on selling books, introducing a product such as the Kindle that could have killed off the physical book industry is a bold move.

Everything from One Click and Prime Now to the Kindle and Echo are game changers but they are all designed to make it easier for us to spend money and that is how Amazon has become a billion-pound empire.

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