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Along with eBay, Amazon was one of the first brands to see the early potential of mobile commerce and is now leading the way in terms of innovation and mobile sales.

Its mobile site and apps have been a huge success and helped it to both maintain its dominance of e-commerce and extend its market reach.

Part of Amazon’s success on mobile is obviously attributable to its reputation as a trustworthy online retailer, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Other well-known brands haven’t adapted to m-commerce with the same urgency or focus on user experience and are now playing catch up.

So here we look at 12 reasons that have contributed to Amazon’s success in m-commerce...

1. It has a mobile site

Okay this is fairly basic, but it’s surprising how few retailers have mobile optimised sites.

It’s estimated that 80% of brands don’t have mobile sites, while a review of the top 20 UK retailers found that just 12 had mobile optimised sites.

2. Easy repeat purchases

Amazon’s one-click payment method was a big part of its success online, as it makes purchases incredibly simple so encourages shoppers to keep coming back.

It works by saving the customers card details and delivery address so they only have to enter a username and password.

This has the potential to be even more valuable on mobile as consumers don’t want to waste time trying to enter credit card details on a smartphone.

                         

Data from a Rackspace survey also found that mobile is helping to drive an increase in impulse buying, particularly for clothes and music, so it’s important that retailers make the checkout as simple as possible so they don’t deter these impulse purchases.

We recently looked at which other retailers have one-click payment on their mobile sites, and while most offer to save the user’s card and delivery details they still include several unnecessary screens during the checkout process.

3. It got in early

Another obvious one, but by seeing the potential for m-commerce before anyone else and getting in early Amazon established itself as a major mobile retailer before most of its competitors even dipped a toe in the water.

This also means that Amazon has spent far more time developing and refining its mobile platforms which is why its user experience is so good.

4. Consistent design across mobile site and apps

Though not identical, Amazon’s mobile platforms share a similar design so users will be comfortable using either one. The basket and search functions are positioned in similar places and they both display recommended products on the homepage.

5. Big calls-to-action

As we pointed out in a best practice post, mobile CTAs need to be big, colourful and obvious so customers can’t miss them. Ideally they should also create a sense of urgency and get the user straight to the checkout.

Amazon ticks all these boxes and the Android app leaves you in no doubt what the next step is: ‘Buy now’.

                         

6. One shopping basket across all platforms

Amazon’s shopping basket is designed so that it synchronises across its desktop site and mobile platforms.

So if you add a DVD to your shopping basket on the desktop site it immediately adds it to the app as well. This makes perfect sense, and fits with the way people research and switch between channels.

It’s a feature that is quite easy to miss, but is a great example of offering the customer a consistent experience across different channels rather than viewing desktop and mobile in isolation.

To find out if it’s a common feature I reviewed the iPhone apps of eight other retailers, but of the ones I looked at only Tesco and M&S offer the same functionality.

7. Predictive search

Amazon recently came top of a consumer survey for its on-site search as it offers predictive search across all its platforms.

Amazon also scored well for the relevancy of results, the number of filter options and the fact that misspellings are corrected.

                         

Predictive search and spelling corrections are great tools to offer mobile users as it reduces the amount of form filling and frustration at having to re-enter search terms.

8. Barcode scanner

To make searching for products even easier, Amazon’s mobile apps have a barcode scanner that allows users to immediately find the product details and cost – assuming Amazon stocks it.

Amazon obviously doesn’t have brick-and-mortar stores so this is a great way of extending its reach onto the high street.

Much of its success has been built on offering lower prices than offline retailers, so shoppers know they can scan an item in-store and more than likely buy it cheaper from Amazon.

It’s particularly useful around Christmas time when stressed shoppers can’t face joining another lengthy checkout queue.

9. Apps on all platforms

For many retailers their mobile strategy doesn’t really extend any further than iPhone, even though Android has more than 50% market share globally.

Part of that is because iPhone shoppers tend to be worth more than Android shoppers, but also because it is easier to design apps for iOS. However Amazon has apps for both platforms, as well as Blackberry and Windows Phone.

This obviously gives it a huge reach among mobile shoppers and greatly improves the user experience.

10. Great product pages

Designing attractive yet persuasive product pages on mobile is a fine art, as you need to give consumers the information they need to make a purchase without making the screen appear too cluttered.

We recently blogged 10 essential features for creating great product pages and Amazon has done a good job of including most of them on mobile without compromising on the user experience.

                         

One of the most important features is user reviews as research shows that a massive 88% of consumers ‘sometimes or always’ consult a review when making a purchase, and 60% were more likely to purchase from a site that has customer reviews on.

Amazon also cross-sells products that are frequently purchased together with that item and has a ‘Customers who viewed this item also viewed’ tab.

On top of that, it also includes a product description, several large images, shipping details, stock levels and social sharing buttons.

11. The personal touch

Whether it’s on the app or the mobile site, if you have an account Amazon welcomes you by name when you arrive on the homepage.

This not only personalises the shopping experience and improves the customer’s perception of the brand, but as security concerns are still a major barrier to purchasing on mobile it may go some way to reassuring consumers that buying on a smartphone is the same as buying on a desktop.

The personal touch also extends to product recommendations, which can occasionally be slightly obscure but generally match the shopper’s interests and previous search history.

                         

Amazon displays product recommendations on the homepage of its mobile site and apps, which is a great way of giving shoppers a shortcut to items they might be looking for and also encourages impulse purchases. 

In fact, I impulse bought some new shoes while browsing the product recommendations for this post...

12. Product range

The huge range of products that Amazon stocks is what drove it become the dominant force in e-commerce and it has had the same impact on mobile.

Isobar’s director of mobile strategy Tim Dunn points out that Amazon’s mobile site and apps have become a natural first point of call for purchase, particularly distressed purchase, and this then becomes a self-feeding cycle. 

“The user needs one item in a hurry so they turns to Amazon and have a good experience. They then come back for the next item even when they’re not in such a rush.”

David Moth

Published 9 October, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (13)

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Henri

Amazon's customer service is non-existent. Just try to contact them. It's all automated and impossible to contact a real person.

I much prefer play.com where everything has free delivery and is very often cheaper than amazon. unfortunately, play.com doesn't stock as many products as amazon.

And both of them fail when it comes to site search in my opinion. There is a lack of relevancy in the search results. Predictive search is not enough. It's the results that count.

almost 4 years ago

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Charles Burrows

All the major points covered - thank you for that summary. It often comes down to beating the facts of slower page load speeds and smaller screens with m-commerce, and so quicker user journeys, fewer non-essential links and the basic functionality of the main site simplified well are the order of the day. I'm not sure, Henri, why you have sought to undermine Amazon's mobile capabilities by way of reference to its customer service, but it reminds me of a fly trying to slow down an articulated lorry by flying into the windscreen.

almost 4 years ago

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Michael Potts, International Marketing Manager at TescoEnterprise

An interesting article as per, Mr Moth!

Simplicity is key for customers I find - a simple interface coupled with one click ordering are key - predictive search is a bonus!

Do you have any thoughts on the app vs m-web argument? Which is more important? (and don't say both)

almost 4 years ago

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Ashkan

It seems to obvious doesn't it but yet most retailers seem to lag behind whilst Amazon keeps taking the lead. For example why don't more retailers use one click checkout?

almost 4 years ago

John Waghorn

John Waghorn, Content Marketer at Koozai Ltd

Amazon and Asos are two very good examples when it comes to a compatible and user friendly mobile site. Although Amazon is extremely popular, they still had to deliver a successful mobile version of their site and app. Had they failed in this area then it would have restricted users and put them off, so credit where credit's due. The huge success and popularity of their desktop site means that they had the experience to convert features which worked well over to their mobile site and change them if needed to suit this format.

almost 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Pottsy, cheers mate!

Re the mobile debate, it depends on what you're hoping to achieve and your budget.

I think all retailers should be looking to get a mobile optimised site, as even if it doesn't get you loads of conversions consumers will still use it for research, to check prices and to find your stores. And as m-commerce develops and consumers become more confident the sales should eventually start to follow.

For major retailers (like yours), a mobile app is a brilliant way of driving customer loyalty by giving users a personalised experience, where they can easily manage the shopping basket, wishlists, vouchers/clubcard and account details. In Amazon's case, it also seems to make the one-click payment method even simpler.

Plus with an app you can add in tools that people will use on a regular basis, like a barcode scanner, which means your app becomes part of their shopping routine when they're checking prices in competitor's stores.

almost 4 years ago

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Prabhat Shah

Found Amazon pretty good compared to eBay in my Blackberry.

Din's shop in mobile before but with Amazon I am very happy with easy navigation. Well done Amazon !

almost 4 years ago

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Claire

I agree with John that ASOS is another good example of a user-friendly mobile commerce site, though I haven't experienced their shopping app being an Android user. Amazon have all bases covered however if retailers have to choose, depending on the business model, it would be better to develop a mobile version of their site rather than an app as the future-proof option, as mobile commerce continues to grow.

almost 4 years ago

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Greg

Good article. However, there is one obvious floor in the mobile offering and this is that you can't access the 'Subscribe and save' feature on the app or mobile site so you can end up paying more for an item than you would on the desktop site.

almost 4 years ago

Mark Selwyn

Mark Selwyn, eCommerce and Multi-Channel Retail Consultant

Nul points for confusing the customer.....what does BUY NOW do compared to ADD TO BASKET? Is it one click ordering? Who knows.

almost 4 years ago

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Sadie-Michaela Harris

Great article, Amazon really are leading the way with Mobile online retail. There is no doubt about it they have successfully provided a seem less user experience across all platforms . Many companies fall down on that.

In reply to Mark the reason there are 2 buttons BUY NOW and to ADD TO BASKET is because if you wanted just the one item you click BUY NOW and if you wanted to continue shopping buying more items you would click the ADD TO BASKET button. Hope that helps with the clarity.

almost 4 years ago

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Manika Shah

Great article as any article on the activities of Amazon can be! A very comprehensive approach to building an app! When we built our app for 'My Stock Genie' for MoneyWorks4me.com, we too tried following the same steps. FYI, the app is available on the Play Store! https://bitly.com/myStockGenie-Android

almost 4 years ago

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