Amazon's Wish List Problem

Jim Ross / Friday, December 20, 2013

Someone gave me Quicken 2014 for Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good gift, a very practical gift, I needed it, and I’ll definitely use it, but compared to the other things on my Amazon wish list, it wasn’t exactly a fun gift. Certainly not the kind of fun that the video game, Resident Evil 6, would have been.

Why did I put it on my wish list, then? Well, it was something that I needed, and I thought I might as well put it on there in case people needed more gift ideas for me. It wasn’t my top priority, but it was one of the last things I added to my wish list, and because Amazon orders your items by date added (as shown in figure 1), that’s what people first saw when they looked up my wish list. If it fits their budget, people are more likely to buy something near the top of your wish list. They’re much less likely to scroll down and notice the items lower down the page. And page two or three? Forget it! No one’s going to click through and see things from those pages, no matter how much you want them.


Figure 1 – Amazon’s wish list does not show your items in priority order.



And that’s where the Amazon wish list fails – it doesn’t allow people to easily rearrange their list to put the most important items at the top. For a company that practically invented the online wish list, you’d think they’d have it perfected by now.

It’s not like there are any other websites that allow users to create lists and easily change the order of the items. Oh wait, that’s right, there’s the Netflix Queue (as shown in figure 2), which gives you multiple ways of changing the order of items in your list. You can type in the exact numerical order you want, click a Top button to quickly move an item to the top of the list, or you can easily drag and drop the items to physically rearrange their order.


Figure 2 – Netflix’s Queue provides several options to easily change the order of the items.



But what does Amazon provide? Drag and drop? A quick “Top” button? Okay then, at least they offer the ability to type in the numerical order that you want the items, right? No, not really. Instead they offer the ability to “Add comments, quantity, and priority” (as shown in figure 3). So you can select the priority (Lowest, Low, Medium, High, and Highest) and it appears below the item, although not very prominently displayed.


Figure 3 – Amazon allows you to add a priority below the item.


Well, I suppose after prioritizing items, you can change the order of the list to show your items in priority order, right? Sure, you can sort the list by priority (as shown in figure 4), but it doesn’t save that sort order. Each time you or someone else comes to your list, it will be shown in Date Added order, with the most recently added items at the top. They have to notice the priorities that you put below each item, and they have to notice the ability to sort the list by priority.


Figure 4 – The Amazon wish list can be temporarily sorted by priority, but that order doesn’t save.



So there’s no way to permanently reorder my list? Actually, there is a workaround (as shown in figure 5). To move an item to the top of your list, you can click on it and go to its product page. On that page, you click Add to Wish List, and since it’s already on your wish list, it will be moved to the top of the list. So with careful planning and many clicks, you can eventually reorder your wish list in the exact order that you want it to appear. Pretty simple, huh?


Figure 5 – There is a workaround to change the order of items in your wish list.



You may think that people would be likely to have high priority items at the top of their list anyway, but the way the wish list works, people are more likely to have lower priority items at the top of the list. As a gift giving occasion approaches, people go to Amazon to update their wish list. The first items they add are the ones that they already know they want, which are probably the highest priority. As they browse, they may notice a few other items of interest and add those. The longer they browse and add items, the lower priority those items probably are. By the time they’re finished, the least desired items are at the top of the list, pushing the most wanted items down the list or even off the first page. Gift givers are most likely to buy something near the top of the list instead of scrolling down or going past the first page.

So, Amazon, can’t you change your wish list to work like the Neflix queue? Let us drag and drop the items into any order we want, and then show that order by default to anyone who looks at our list. After all, it is almost 2014. It can’t be that difficult to do.