August 2, 2013, 4:12 PM

Amazon takes a page from Pinterest

The e-retailer introduces Amazon Collections, which enables shoppers to curate products and make purchases.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Amazon.com Inc. has debuted a Pinterest-like feature called Collections that enables shoppers to group products that other consumers can see and shop from. A consumer can access Collections by hovering over his account—located in the upper right hand corner of the Amazon.com site—and going to “Your Collections.” Clicking there brings up the consumer’s collections, if there are any, as well as other shoppers’ collections.

Collections mirrors the look and feel of the image-focused Pinterest social network, where consumers can ‘pin’ pictures of products they like, and group them together.

Here is how Amazon Collections works: Shoppers can add products to their collections by clicking the Add to Collection button on product pages. Amazon says not all product pages have this button, but did not detail how many do now. Consumers, though, can drag a collect button to any product page to add an item to their collections.

Consumers can organize their collections by themes that include “My Style,” “Want List” and “Possibilities”—or any other theme or title shoppers decide to provide. Consumers can edit and remove items, and otherwise manage their collections via their Amazon account pages.

Clicking on product images in Collection sends consumers to Amazon product pages, from which purchases can be made in as few as two clicks by any shopper.

A look at Amazon Collections this afternoon showed a wide range of consumer desires. A consumer named Jessica Johnson added a $22.99 sterling silver Celtic ankle bracelet to her Want List. A shopper named Aaron Delwiche put an Apple Inc. iPad into a collection labeled “What you need for Comm 3325 Fall 2013,” which also included books for an upcoming college course on “Comics in American Popular Culture.”

Collections is a “new test feature,” says a spokeswoman for Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide. She declines to provide further details.

Amazon Collections received mostly positive reviews from multiple e-commerce experts. “Adding more social features on top of its massive product database and active user base makes a ton of sense for Amazon,” says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., a company that helps merchants sell on marketplaces including eBay Inc. and Amazon.com.

Two-click purchasing is where Amazon Collections really shines over Pinterest, says Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst for e-business and channel strategies at Forrester Research Inc. Amazon “also shamelessly knocked off the very effective Pinterest layout,” she says. “I don't know if Pinterest had a patent on the design but what a pity if they didn't.”

Pinterest—which launched in 2010—accounted for 24.96% of site traffic from social networks in the first quarter of 2013, up from 17.51% in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to a recent report from Monetate Inc. Pinterest lately has beefed up its e-commerce capabilities, including through new price alerts e-mailed to shoppers.

Pinterest offered no immediate comment about the Amazon Collections launch. Facebook also has tested—and later abandoned—its own Collections tool, enabling retailers to organize products on the social network.

According to the recently published Top 500 Guide, retail chains have embraced Pinterest more than other retailers. Chains have a combined total of 10.3 million followers on Pinterest, compared with catalogers, which have 7.6 million followers, web-only retailers 2.8 million and consumer brand manufacturers 300,000.

Another Internet Retailer research guide, the Social Media 300—which measures online retailers by the percentage of traffic to their sites that comes from social networks—finds that L.L. Bean Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and LuLuLemon Athletica Inc. lead other merchants in Pinterest followers.

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