Amazon expands its online gift shop “Interesting Finds,” adds human curation

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Following its debut earlier this year, Amazon quietly launched a revamped and expanded version of Pinterest-like feature called “Interesting Finds,” which is also now available on mobile. Tucked away inside the “More from Amazon” section of its mobile app as well as on the web, the Interesting Finds section offers shoppers a curated feed of products across a number of categories, like items for the home, for men, women, children, or pets, as well as popular sections dedicated to specific products like watches, audio or photo equipment, sneakers, tees, sunglasses, lighting, and more.

For years, Amazon has experimented with ways to enable better discovery of products, in order to capture data related to shoppers’ intent with regard to future purchases, in addition to fueling the retailer’s capability to target its customers with personalized recommendations.

In 2013, Amazon debuted Amazon Collections, an image-centric site for saving and sharing favorite items that operated much like its own Pinterest clone.

Then in 2015, it began testing a feature called “Amazon Stream,” which organized products for men and women into a feed of thumbnail images you could click to save to your own collection of favorite items. That later morphed into “Interesting Finds” earlier this year. The revamp turned the “Save” button into a heart and gave the site a cleaner, more modern look – similar to the curated shopping service Canopy.

However, at the time, Interesting Finds was still fairly limited in terms of its filtering and curation capabilities. There were just four sections: All, Women, Men, and Fun. (You can still see that version on the mobile web here.) That has now changed.

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The discovery feature online and in the native mobile app now organizes products into an expanded array of categories beyond the initial handful, and it utilizes human curators, too. Several of these new categories go beyond simply rounding up top products in a single genre, like “Watches,” and instead focus on a theme.

For example, the “Daily Carry” section includes toteable items like keychains, wallets, backpacks, water bottles, hats, iPhone cases and more. “Mid Century” rounds up furniture, décor, lighting and even books dedicated to this time frame.

Both “Little Kids” and “Big Kids” get their own sections that include toys, games, sports equipment, plus educational items like flashcards and books.

As you browse through the sections, you can heart the items you like which are then saved to your “My Hearts” collection.

The image-heavy site, which is still updated daily, also inserts links to other curated collections as you scroll. For instance, there are cute pots in “Playful Planters;” there’s a Star Wars-themed “Use The Force” collection; gifts for cat lovers are found in “Here Kitty Kitty;” things made of marble or felt can be uncovered in “Marvelous Marble” and “Felted Finds,” respectively, and so on.

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Shoppers can also favorite these collections, known as “boutiques,” many of which have been created in-house by Amazon employees (as a simple googling of the curators’ names will tell you.) These saved boutiques are accessible from anytime from your “My Hearts” page.

After you favorite items, Amazon says it will show you “more like them tomorrow,” according to the text description at the top of the “Interesting Finds” section. In other words, the shop is combining Amazon’s algorithmic understanding of users’ interests along with human-driven curation to craft its revamped online store.

Despite Interesting Finds’ high profile – a banner at the top of Amazon.com’s homepage – the feature is still flying a bit under the radar.

And on mobile, it’s also a bit tucked away:  you have to tap the navigation menu, then the “More from Amazon” link, then “Interesting Finds.”

The revamped feature itself is still being tested, too, as it pops up asking you if you like the theme or to rate the service. You can respond with emoji like happy faces (“Ooh” or Aah!”) or the less-thrilled “Meh.”

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(It’s unclear how an “ooh” really differs from an “aah,” but hey, it’s Amazon’s system.)

Not all customers have the new experience, as some are only seeing the earlier four categories, indicating either a staged rollout or A/B test.

While Amazon’s extensive catalog and fast shipping options have made it an internet retailing behemoth, it’s still not really thought of as a site that’s “fun” to browse, or a source of inspiration.

That has left room for others, like Pinterest, to build services that are more focused on the “before” side of shopping – when people are signaling about their tastes and interests, ahead of any possible sale.

Canopy, too, has worked to fulfill the need for a more curated way to shop Amazon with its easy-to-use site that points to products collections, many of which have now been duplicated at the category level by Amazon’s “Interesting Finds.”

“Interesting Finds” isn’t the only way Amazon has begun to curate its products. Also in the “More from Amazon” section on mobile is its fashion trends TV show “Style Code Live,” which links to Amazon products, and “Amazon LaunchPad,” its collection of new products, including those from startups and Kickstarter.