“Save for Later?” I don’t think so.

I’m sure Amazon knows much better than me, but I’m going to pontificate anyway. As anyone who works with me knows, I heavily subscribe to the 37signals-style simplicity movement. Every move I make at work (in product design, etc) is aimed toward simplicity. I’m also a data head (according to my fellow Web Geeks at work), so the idea of divergent data bothers me.
Amazon is fantastic, but I think their Wish List system has gotten much too complicated. Surely you jest, Mr. Palmer! Hear me out.
I went on Amazon today to pick out books to read while in Japan. I picked out five books, all of which I will search for at the used book store tomorrow. So I didn’t want to purchase today, but found I had way too many options to defer my purchase. I could add to a Wish List (of which I can have multiples), add to my Cart (and leave it there), add to my Cart then “Save for Later” or add to a Gift List.
See what I mean? Those are just the options to defer my purchase. I haven’t even catalogued the methods to actually buy something.
Here’s my suggestion (and again, Amazon probably knows better). Pare this down to a combined “intentions” system under the “Wishlist” moniker. Save for Later probably works well because the items are still in your “Cart,” so you’re more likely to buy them or tack them on to a later purchase. Wish Lists work because they capture an emotional desire to own/consume something, but aren’t so intimidating as to make you feel you’re putting off a purchase.
The “Save for Later” button in your Cart would add the item to your wish list (rather than keeping it in a separate system), but also lightly suggest it during subsequent checkouts. Why? Because you came closer to buying it, so you’re more likely to do so in the future.
That’d be a new feature (I think, right?) – add-on purchase suggestions during checkout. You’d be shown suggestions of items you might want to tack on to your purchase. They wouldn’t show you just any items from your wish list, but those that are maybe 20% under your average item cost in addition to “Save for Later” items. If you can hit a sweet spot for add-on purchase prices, sales would increase; it might even be worth it to tie this into the Super-Saver shipping program by suggesting items that would make the transaction qualify for free shipping.
As for Wish Lists, make them simpler! Wish Lists themselves are too complicated. Rate 1-5 how much you’d *really* like to receive this item. What Wish List does this belong in? How do I access my Wish List(s)? Why isn’t it easy to add an item from one during checkout?
If only 5% of your customers are using comments and ratings in Wish Lists, get rid of them. I can’t imagine a large amount of people use either of those features, and it’s usually worth making the system less intimidating for customers. Go back to having one Wish List, but perhaps make it taggable.
Here’s the lesson. Every time the web gets simpler, more people use it. The more people use it, the more things people buy. Amazon is the undisputed leader in online commerce, but I think they could create a more useful, but simpler “intentions” system that made customers feel less intimidated and encouraged more purchasing.
But what do you think? Is Amazon too complex?

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