1.5 billion. That’s the number of products listed on Amazon across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Variety is great when you know the exact product you’re looking for. However, if you’re just browsing, it can be overwhelming.
To ease the pain, online retailers develop guided selling tools to help shoppers narrow down the product offering within a category to a relevant few. Brands in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Retail Europe have boosted their adoption of every major guided selling feature over the past year. However, very few consumer electronics retailers provide interactive product finders, with MediaMarkt Germany’s tool being the most comprehensive.
Realizing the gap and the chance to remedy its weak guided selling credentials, Amazon launched Scout in September. Scout is a machine learning-powered tool that takes a leaf from Facebook’s ‘like’ culture to guide shoppers to suggested products.
The platform works well for general product discovery. Shoppers can filter by price range and keep track of what they’ve liked and disliked in the Your Journey section at the bottom of the page. This can also be saved for future reference once signed into the account. Scout also enables Quick Look on every product, in which customers are presented with other similar products to like or dislike, but filters such as price aren’t honored. This isn’t necessarily a negative point as there could be items that meet the customer’s style criteria, but were initially ruled out due to price.
A more notable sticking point is that Scout still expects shoppers to engage in endless scrolling until they either find what they want or get fed up. Whichever comes sooner. Nevertheless, the platform has the potential to grow teeth over time. With each click, Amazon quietly builds an enhanced picture of the shopper’s personal style and budget from which it can use to better tailor its communications. Soon it might even learn to think for you.