Don’t offer me what I already own.

We moved to a new apartment about 8 weeks ago. During that time we had to buy a lot of new stuff for our kitchen. Of course, I started searching on the internet. As always I started looking around on I searched for a dish washer and a new stove. For about a week I was focused on searching products, comparing prices and making decisions. In the end, I really ordered a dish washer at Amazon (it really was a good deal and the service of delivering and setting it up was great). But what really annoys me is what happens since then:

I get bothered with emails. Advertising emails by Amazon offering me dish washers and stoves. 8 weeks after this product information was relevant to me, Amazon still tries to sell that stuff to me. This is not really a useful offer. If Amazon would analyze my order history right, they would easily recognize, that I already bought a dish washer. From the day on I ordered it, my interest  in getting further offers is abruptly gone. Amazon should know as I ordered the product at their store. I presume there are few people on the planet willing to buy dish washers in that high frequency.

Wouldn’t it be easy to guess what’s right?

But it would be so easy to guess what would grab my attention: From the day they delivered my dish washer (the delivery date is stored in my Amazon account), Amazon could have treated me with other stuff. They could anticipate that -since I’m now able to clean my dishes- I could be interested in

  • buying new dishes! They could send me an offer regarding new dishes, cups, wine glasses or whatever
  • cooking! They could send me an offer regarding cookbooks, cooking accessories or other cooking related items
  • decoration! While setting up new kitchen equipment: Why not freshen up my kitchen style?

Instead, Amazon wants to sell even more dish washers and stoves. And that’s the problem with all the advertising on the internet. Advertising companies just follow one basic thought:

What was interesting yesterday, is relevant today. What I bought yesterday, will be bought by me tomorrow. While this is absolutely true for most of the stuff I buy and consume, this is completely false for most of the stuff I buy on the internet – especially regarding Amazon.

If I buy a rucksack, don’t offer me more rucksacks the days after. Please go ahead and offer other outdoor related items.

If I buy a new jacket, don’t offer me other jackets. Offer me other clothes in similar colors or style.

While looking at my 3 year order history at Amazon, I can find so many things that describe my style, taste and interest. Thinking about it, it appears to me that it should not be too difficult to analyze that data right. At least there must be a way of generating better offers than dish washers or stoves.

Anticipating systems

The fact that even Amazon seems to not get it done quite right, shows the fact, that there still is so much research and work to be done to get really useful offers based on personal consumption history and anticipated data. Amazon does not have access to my Facebook account (at least I hope so). Nevertheless the amount of data (a few hundred record sets of orders just by me) already seems to too complex to generate high-performance personalized offers. So, they offer what might be most relevant: The stuff I looked for or bought weeks ago. But Amazon has the right data to do it better: While searching for products in their web store, I get Information about related stuff. This information is still poor sometimes but there obviously is a way to relate products. And that is the information Amazon should aggressively use for their product newsletter.

But in future there is more to be done. The ideal way would look something like this (let’s not look at data protection issues): My Amazon account is linked to my Facebook account and some wearable device collecting data about nutrition, sports or location. These three key information (data of social networks, consumption history and personal tracking data of multiple kind) should lead to really useful digital products as well as really useful personalized offers. Anticipating systems that tell me what I might need in a certain situation. Big data. Big challenges.

Until then, dear Amazon, I’d be glad to have just a simple solution: Please (please, please!) send me offers to related products and not the same products I bought. That would be really helpful.

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