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Ben Flexner’s Insights on – Amazon Scout Uses Machine Learning To Show Shoppers Personalized Products

Ben Flexner – Senior Solutions Engineer
Posted November 30, 2018 by

It only makes sense that Amazon would start to adopt the Pandora model for their online shopping. For those not familiar, Pandora uses algorithms to create custom radio stations for users based on similar genera and physical sound properties of like songs, based on the music in a single song or artist. From there, users can tune their selection by giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to songs as they are played. Pandora then uses these selections to refine future suggestions and the frequency with which songs that received a thumbs up are replayed.

Amazon’s scout concept takes this into the online shopping arena to help shoppers who have an idea of what they are looking for, but not exact specifications for their purchase, gain exposure to products that they find pleasing and which fit that vague concept. Hopefully leading up to a sale. My only reservation around this model is that Amazon currently faces a crisis, in for form of cheap knock-off products, which very closely emulate brand name products, but which lack quality and sometimes compatibility to their brand name counterparts. These products are designed to “look” very similar, if not be copyright-defying replicas of existing products. Basing search results off visual representations of products seems like it would only encourage this product market to accelerate the rate at which they attempt to emulate quality product engineering and design, without actually producing a high quality or original product design. This may end up further alienating Amazon’s brand name retailers who already struggle to combat these knock-offs on the digital marketplace. At its worst, this could potentially lead brand names to begin walking away from Amazon in favor of other online marketplaces where their brands can be distinguished based on their own merits, or lack thereof. There are many name brands who refuse to sell through amazon exactly for this reason, it would be a shame to see that number increase, but unless Amazon begins cracking down on cheap knockoffs and sellers misrepresenting brand name items with counterfeits, Scout may become a new thorn in the side of those merchant brands.

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