Ireland – Amazon’s Forgotten Marketplace

Even though Amazon employes in excess of 1,500 staff in Ireland they have put very little effort in to designing their user flows for Irish customers. Up until recently Amazon has never really been on my radar, I wasn’t a regular customer and would access the site more for reviews or comparisons rather than purchases. This all changed when I went to Chicago to immerse myself in the world of Design. I couldn’t get over how big Amazon was there, the number of times I sat through conversations about how people’s Amazon Prime subscriptions were running out still baffles me.

So here I am, in Amazon’s home country and looking for books which are niche, so naturally I log on to Amazon and enjoy their famously easy experience. Everything about the process was simple, intuitive and well designed (right through to delivery). Fast forward 2 months later, when I am trying to do the same thing sitting in Dublin and it is an entirely different story!

Amazon don’t have an Irish website

Firstly, for some reason Amazon.ie redirects to Amazon.co.uk, and from then on out ignores the fact that I have visited the site through the .ie domain. It also ignores the fact that my device is physically located in Ireland and instead displays Sterling prices and UK only features (such as Amazon Prime which is not available in Ireland).

This lack of recognition has a doubly negative effect as the website flashes up with multiple messages ‘Eligible for FREE UK delivery’ etc, which to a customer in a different market (where free delivery is not available) it highlights that they are being gifted a second-class experience.

Grievance #1: Prices Not Listed in Euro

Despite Amazon selling in to countries right across the Eurozone and, on those websites, displaying prices in Euro – they have opted to not afford that luxury to Irish users. This move confuses me no end, surely the cost of hosting a .ie domain with the English text and pulling in the Euro pricing would be negligible and boost Amazon’s position in the Irish market (admittedly  a low priority for any company with turnover of $89 Billion).

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 10.29.59Instead Irish users are left with UK prices right up until the final click within the checkout where it displays a Euro total price. With the Euro so far adrift of the pound these days this is a considerable difference (just this afternoon I was contemplating a purchase of just over £100, which I later found out was just shy of €200 – once I found this out I was forced to hit the Browser back button 4 or 5 times to edit the order, armed with knowledge of its price).

It goes without saying that not being able to see the listed price (as well as having to click hidden links to find true delivery prices) is a huge disruption for any customer journey.

Grievance #2: Many Listed Titles Do Not Ship To Ireland

Back a few months ago I decided to take advantage of Amazon’s ‘Used & New’ feature to find that even though Amazon knew where I was browsing from, knew I accessed the site via Amazon.ie and even have my address stored in their system; they still listed (primarily) items which were not available to Irish customers.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 16.03.43

Here is my User Journey:

  1. I land on the Used & New page and am pleased by the lower costs and multiple options.
  2. I scroll throw the books, check out the sellers reviews and click ‘Add to Basket’.
  3. Here I learn that my order is eligible for free shipping (it isn’t) and see the Sterling price, to see its actual price I click into the Checkout – a nuisance, but not a surprise.
  4. Then I must select my delivery address (now I am getting frustrated at all the steps I need to take just to see the price)
  5. Finally I land on a page which tells me that this book is not available to ship to Ireland and suggesting I either change my address, increase the quantity ordered, try other sellers or delete this book from my checkout. This was totally unexpected, I was even told my order had free shipping? (although I guess no shipping = free!)
  6. Click ‘Delete’ to remove item seeing as I cannot progress with the purchase
  7. Either click the Back button on the browser multiple times, or find the link in the text that says ‘Another seller’ and get my way back to the listings page and start over.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 16.04.54This process got very old very quickly when I had to go through it multiple times before I found a seller willing to sell to my location, and downright frustrating when I went to buy a second book and had to do the same back and forward routine to find that book.

This is not an experience any user should face on any website no matter how small, but for Amazon to overlook it is truly remarkable and inexcusable.

Grievance #3: Failing at the Final Touchpoint

The above failings were because Amazon had decided not to look in to its system and create a personalized experience; however I was quite surprised to find that when I opened my Amazon package (which had been delivered to my address in Dublin, Ireland) that it came with two adverts:

  • One for Amazon Prime, a service which is not available in the country they have just shipped this advert to,
  • And the other for a Small Veg Delivery business which expressly states on their advert that they deliver exclusively within the UK (whom, I suspect are unaware that some of their paid for marketing is being shipped out of the country and still, undoubtedly, charged to them).

From start to finish I had a terrible experience, not only being treated like a second class user, but also being reminded of that fact across my journey. Amazon have created an effectively designed service and process for their primary target market, but have failed to ensure that design is flexible for other users and their unique (but very obvious) needs.

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