Amazon.ca Fails at Basic Usability - Amazon.com Passes

Linda Bustos

Amazon is often touted as the usability darling of e-commerce. Number one on Internet Retailer's Top 500 List last year, the mega-store is usually way ahead of other retailers in so many ways. That's why my experience on Amazon this weekend was so surprising. Shopping on Amazon.ca, I experienced search failure more than once -- and also discovered that my problems wouldn't have happened on Amazon.com.

Exhibit A - Can't Handle A Typo

This is what happened when I made a spelling error for "Web Analytics: An Hour A Day" on Amazon.ca:

And this is the same search on Amazon.com:

Exhibit B - Can't Handle Stemmings

For a site that's so eager to make recommendations, I was surprised that I got a "zero results" page when searching for a book about "landing pages":

"Oh, did you mean landing page? So sorry, why didn't you say so in the first place?"

Amazon.com figured it out, and delivered more than one result:

Exhibit C - Design

You'll notice from the screenshots that Amazon.ca is still using the tombstone navigation that was abandoned by the Amazon.com redesign a couple months ago. Fair enough, it may not be as simple as flicking a switch for Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk to get the fresh look and Amazon decided to roll the new design out in stages. But the new layout was designed for better usability and sales - so I'm wondering what's the hold up. Certainly Amazon should be concerned with providing the optimal holiday shopping experience?

The Canadian site is also missing an important holiday usability reminder - shipping deadlines:

Amazon.com lets you know right up front how many days you have to cash in on super saver shipping.

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Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.