Amazon Cart

Recently, Amazon launched a Twitter feature that allows users to respond to a tweet containing an Amazon product link with the #AmazonCart hashtag, which will then add the item in question to the user’s shopping basket.

As Ars Technica wrote, the utility is minimal, and the business goals quite clear. And fair enough, because they doubtless thought this through and knew what they were aiming for.

However, I wonder if, with a slight tweak, this feature may actually have been a little more useful. What if instead of adding the item to your shopping cart, it was instead added to your Amazon wish list?

Adding the item to your shopping cart is an action that is likely to be followed up immediately, or in the near future. As you cannot complete the purchase via Twitter, you’re going to need to visit the site to buy the thing. And frankly, you’re probably already there, because you likely wouldn’t be buying the item sight unseen, or else you already knew about it and therefore didn’t need to see it on Twitter to be encouraged to buy it, as the Ars Technica article describes.

Why would you choose to tweet about something to add it to your shopping cart rather than click on the link, only then to have to go to the Amazon website anyway in order to complete the transaction?

On the other hand, let’s say you’ve just seen something awesome on Amazon. You want to mark it for the future, but you also want to share it with people on Twitter, because you think it may be of interest to them. You tweet a link to the world saying how great the product is. A few of your followers notice, check out the link, and respond with their own tweet, adding the hashtag #AmazonWish.

The difference between these two scenarios is that whereas the first is purely mechanical, the second is also aspirational. The purely mechanical approach fails because it’s simply a poor mechanic for adding an item to a shopping cart. Making that problem worse is that once the item is in your cart, it’s going to be there the next time you want to make a purchase on Amazon. If you don’t want to buy it at the time, you’ll have to remove it, at which point it’s both in your way, and then no longer associated with your account. This is why the wish list exists in the first place: it’s a place to store things off to one side, which you may purchase, or have purchased for you, at a later date.

And that’s why #AmazonWish would be more useful than #AmazonCart – because it’s non-committal, and it appeals to a genuine, already existing use case, in which people share products they’re interested in with their friends. (Possibly whilst mentioning that their birthday is coming up, hint hint, nudge nudge, and so forth.)

So there are usability issues around adding something to the shopping cart rather than adding it to a wish list, but there’s also a matter of perception. To the mind of the user, adding an item to the shopping cart is a merely a part of the checkout process, and one which a Twitter hashtag is doing nothing to expedite.

On the other hand, the sharing and discussing of interesting products on social media is a use case that already exists. Only now, there’s a convenient hastag if you’d like to favourite that item for future reference and possible purchase.

So might it be useful to have a hashtag that adds Amazon items to your wish list? #AmazonWish