June 11, 2002, 12:00 AM

Amazon’s new interactive special offers force customers to decide now

Amazon.com Inc. is testing a new personalized marketing effort that presents special offers to customers but requires them to buy within 60 minutes. If they reject the offer, they can’t get it back.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Amazon.com Inc. is testing a new personalized marketing effort that presents special offers to customers but requires customers to buy within 60 minutes--and if they reject the offer, they can’t get it back. Called the Gold Box, customers who launch the box from the home page get a series of five special offers. If they pass on the first one, they get a second offer, but then can’t go back to the first. If they reject the second, they get a third, but again can’t go back to the second, and so on. Amazon started offering Gold Box to 50% of its customers last week. “We don’t know if will work, but it’s certainly fun,” Jeffrey Bezos, Amazon CEO, told attendees at the Direct Marketing Association`s Annual Catalog Conference in Chicago today. “It’s infuriatingly addictive.”

Testing the new service with 50% of customers is standard procedure at Amazon, said Bezos, who was the keynote speaker at the opening of the 19th Annual Catalog Conference. “We don’t roll out features without showing them to half of our customers first,” he said.

Bezos also said the Instant Order Update, which Amazon launched earlier this year, has been well received. Among other features, the updates alert customers to products they are considering buying which they have bought already. “Our customers are busy and they’re human--they don’t always remember what they’ve bought,” he said. “But our computers do.” He said early indications are that the service has slightly decreased sales, but Amazon believes that small drop off will be more than made up by an anticipated reduction in returns and long-term goodwill.

Instant Order Update also lists recent purchases for each customer and the status of each. Such information has reduced calls to customer service reps, he said. “We have found that people prefer to do things themselves,” he said.

 

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