Amazon Revamps Its Mobile Apps: Adds Browse By Department, Subscription-Based Shopping

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Today, Amazon is updating its mobile applications for Android and iOS with a couple of notable additions that will make using these small-screened counterparts more in line with the desktop-sized website. Probably the most helpful change is the ability to browse and shop by department (finally!). Prior to the change, shopping in Amazon’s mobile app was primarily kicked off by doing product searches.

The other new arrival is the inclusion of Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, which you can think of as Amazon’s own take on this whole subscription-based e-commerce trend. But instead of sending you carefully curated boxes of stuff monthly, Amazon lets you schedule shipments of items in need of regular replenishment, like pet food, personal care goods, office supplies and more.

It’s funny, because the other day, I joked on Twitter that I was surprised no one had started a subscription based e-commerce play for tampons yet. A friend kindly reminded me that someone had: Amazon. (Also, believe it or not, some startup.) Amazon lets you subscribe to everything that you buy regularly, like diapers, beauty supplies, grocery items, home improvement items, heath and personal care items like lotions and razors, and household goods like batteries and trash bags. But unlike all these other subscription-based startups, Amazon doesn’t lock you into monthly shipments – you can go anywhere from every month to every six, and anything in between.

It’s too soon to say whether the “stuff of the month” trend is a flash in the pan or the future of e-commerce, but one area where it makes a lot sense is on things you need, not things you want. That’s what the 500 Startups-backed NetPlenish is working on, for example.

With Amazon’s program, there are a few more benefits, though – you can pay when the orders ship, not in advance, shipping is free, the products are discounted beyond the everyday price for subscribers, and Amazon Mom members can combine subscriptions with their usual Amazon Mom savings, which can mean up to 20% off diapers and wipes, in some cases.

Now, if there was only a way to import my grocery shopping data into Amazon so I’d know exactly how often I need to buy all this stuff. Anyone building that?