August 10, 2006, 12:00 AM

Amazon’s new Search Suggestions lets shoppers submit product descriptions

A new feature on Amazon.com borrows from online tagging to let shoppers submit ideas on alternative descriptions to match up with specific keywords products. Approved match-ups go into Amazon’s engine to populate site search results.

Tagging, an online activity that arose with consumer-generated media, is getting official recognition of sorts from Amazon.com, which is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites. The retailer has borrowed from the concept to create a new Search Suggestions feature aimed at helping shoppers find on Amazon what they are looking for.

Tagging is the practice of associating with a descriptive term or classification additional meanings, beyond the primary meaning, that are popularly associated with it. For instance, in this example from David Fry of Fry Inc., an online shopper, in the context of his own experience, might find his own association with a model of ski parka -- “great coat for thrashing in the powder at Aspen” – more meaningful than the descriptor assigned to the product on a retailer’s web site “Men’s/Outerwear/Skiing/Parkas/Columbia Double Whammy” – and file it for personal use or push it out to friends under his own description.

Amazon’s recently-launched search Suggestions seeks to capture that popular taxonomy by giving users a means of submitting recommendations for connecting a product to specific keywords, along with an explanation of why the connection is relevant. Once approved, the product and the relevancy explanation appears in search resutls the next time a user searches Amazon under those keywords.

Amazon.com already features thousands of search suggestions from consumers. For example, searching for “cheryl tweedy” now brings up results including music and posters from the band Girl’s Aloud, of which Tweedy is a member.

Users can submit a Search Suggestion to Amazon directly from product detail pages. Search Suggestions have been launched from most Amazon.com categories, including apparel, automotive, computers, electronics, home& garden, and others.

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