Mkt Intel: How Amazon's 'Consult-a-Friend' is Revolutionizing Shopping Recommendations

Sophia Palalas

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Whether it's ordering everyday essentials or treating ourselves to something special, many of us rely on e-commerce platforms to fulfill our everyday needs. But with an overwhelming abundance of choice—and thousands of 4.5-star reviews—, finding the perfect product can feel like a daunting task. Enter: personally vetted recommendations, providing consumers with the confidence to make informed purchasing decisions while reducing the stress associated with shopping. One brand that has recognized the importance of this particular formula? Amazon.

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Image by: Amazon

The Trust Formula

Amazon's "Consult-a-Friend" feature is designed to streamline the decision-making process for shoppers. It's a simple tool that empowers users to seek advice and opinions from their inner circle before making a purchase. Here's how it works:

  1. Select the Product, Share & Ask for Your Friends to Vote: Users start by selecting a product they're interested in purchasing. Next, they tap the 'Share' button, initiating the recommendation process. Shoppers can then enable the 'Ask for your friends' votes' feature through their preferred messaging app, selecting recipients from their contact list.
  2. Consult-a-Friend Link: Friends receive a message containing the ‘Consult-a-Friend’ link. This link allows them to access the Amazon Shopping app, view detailed product information, and provide feedback. Friends can express their opinions through quick emoji reactions or by leaving comments.
  3. Collective Sentiment Analysis: Finally, the purchaser can then easily assess the collective sentiment of their friends and read all text commentary within the app.

This innovative feature eliminates the need for users to scroll through multiple chats or social media channels when seeking shopping validation. Amazon has, instead, found a way to simplify and personalize the process by consolidating trusted feedback in one place for users.

Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

By allowing users to involve their friends in the decision-making process, Amazon has, by extension, instilled a sense of confidence and security among its customers. On an e-commerce platform that can often feel as fleeting as it is transactional, this newfound trust and loyalty between consumers and Amazon is likely to have an impact on its reputation, as well as other leaders in the space and their customer retention.

In UX design, credibility—as one of the seven primary factors—holds so much weight that 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after just one bad experience (Impact, 2017). As one of Bond's own Design Principles—of which there are 21—credibility is that which makes a message believable.

"There are two groups of people that seem to hold the most sway over us: credible authorities and people we believe are similar to ourselves. [...] Key influencers may not be those with formal hierarchical authority, but they’re the people who others listen to. If they’re onboard, then others will likely be influenced to participate fully in the program." (21 Science-Based Design Principles, 2015)

And who is deemed more credible than one's own inner circle? A holistic experience—beginning before the product is even in the customers’ hands—can make or break the trust that consumers have with a brand, directly impacting their sales. After all, if a potential customer sees a product as credible and useful, they’ll keep coming back for more. 

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So Long, Buyer's Remorse

In the past, customers would send product links to their friends or family for feedback, resulting in scattered responses across various platforms. Amazon's ‘Consult-a-Friend’ centralizes this process within the app, making it easier and more streamlined. Users can now rely on Amazon, not only for their shopping needs, but for gathering valuable input from their trusted circle; this addition further integrates the tech giant into customers’ lives. As brands continue to lean further into AI to provide product recommendations, Amazon’s decision to offer a tool that leans on friends and family (analog approach, leveraging technology) is a notable one.

While the 'Consult-a-Friend' feature is a promising addition to Amazon's arsenal—those shopping for movies or books, where trusted recommendations and reviews play a crucial role, may find immense value in the possibilities and future of this feature—its success will be closely monitored as it gains traction and, likely, expands into various industries.

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