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Sorting Amazon

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Scott was looking for an inexpensive GPS, so he went to Amazon and found that he couldn’t sort by price. You can sort by price in other product categories on Amazon, but not in that category.

Apparently this isn’t a limitation of Amazon’s user interface, but a limitation of their back end. I’m working on an upgrade to MTAmazon that (among other things) will take advantage of Amazon’s newly-extended Web services API.

One of the things that the new API lets developers do is choose the sort order of the products that Amazon returns. But you can’t just sort by anything. Amazon limits the fields you can sort by. And to make things worse, the list of sortable fields is different for different product categories.

Amazon’s Web services documentation devotes four printed pages to lists of sortable fields, grouped by product.

Scott speculated that the lack of sortable fields might be a marketing strategy. I don’t think so. Once I get the product data from the Amazon API, I can sort it however I want (and I plan to). Surely they must realize that I’m not limited to their sort tools.

I think this is an example of poorly integrating their new product categories into their Web site. When Amazon launched these product categories, they were probably getting their product data from the distributor or elsewhere. They just never bothered to fully integrate this new data into their site. That’s just plain shoddy management.

Your customers come to expect things from you. If you are launching a new product, a new software feature, or a new store, make sure you meet their expectations. Take the time to do it right, and you’ll be rewarded with loyalty.

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