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Amazon released Windowshop this week, a visual browsing app for the iPad.
It aims to make it easier to shop on the iPad by allowing users to swipe and browse their way through Amazon's entire product range. There is also a web version of the app.
The app allows users to browse through the entire product range from Amazon, which is a lot of products. In fact, it seems like you can scroll forever without reaching the bottom of the page.
Having this many items means that some filtering and browsing options are needed to narrow product searches, and you can browse by department or bestsellers.
The way sub-categories are displayed is odd. For example, once I have gone to the computers & accessories category and navigated to tablets, the whole page isn't used to display the range of iPads and related items, just one thin column on the page, which makes it much harder to browse through the range.
Also, many categories have not been sliced and diced enough to allow users to narrow searches effectively.
For example, a search for 'iPad' produces more than 10,000 results, but the results for tablets are jumbled up with accessories, books, clothing and more.
If you are just looking for an actual iPad, then you can narrow this to 55 results, though this is still a lot to look through. However, if you want an iPad case then your search will be tougher as there is no way to filter and sort by brand, price range, size, colour etc. All things which would help to narrow the search.
The product pages on the app are good though, and actually a bit tidier than on the main website. They open up in a light box over the product search results, making it easy to expand a result to see price and details before closing it again.
Calls to action are clear and prominently positioned, there are a good range of product photos, and links down the left allow users to see reviews, further product details, and related items.
Once you select an item, the checkout process is the same as that on the existing iPad app. It has been optimised for the iPad, and works well enough though it could do a little more to help users with data entry. A postcode lookup tool would be a useful addition for instance.
Overall though, the app presents an appealing browsing experience with some excellent product pages. It also provides a better experience (and a broader product range) than the existing Amazon iPad app.
The drawbacks of the app are to do with the massive product range on the app, and the limitations of the sorting and filtering options which make some product searches more difficult than they need to be.
Still, it's good to see retailers doing something different with the iPad, and trying to adapt to how customers will use the device, rather than simply releasing enlarged versions of mobile apps.