Canopy offers a clean social layer for e-commerce sites.
Sometimes finding a specific item on Amazon can be like boating down the wide South American river itself. The site has been getting increasingly cluttered with metrics and intellectual sparring between reviewers. Though the site usually will take you to the highest rated or most popular item when your search is straightforward, wading through pages to find more specialized items can feel like an experience straight out of the late 90′s – not to mention, many listings are simply the same item posted by different sellers.
Why not have some shade from that harsh onslaught of redundant information? Enter Toronto and San Francisco-based startup Canopy, which hopes to make shopping online a sleek, social, mobile-friendly, Pinterest-like experience – and add a consistent social layer that stands apart from the often isolated communities that spring up on various shopping-related websites. Images are manually curated, making even the next USB cord or SD card you need look sexy.
Why Amazon? According to co-founder Daniel Kaplan, for now, the immense size and precise organization of Amazon has been a powerful benchmark for the developers to see how the system works with the widest range of products possible – and it ensures that if a customer sees a product they like on the site, they will easily be able to buy it. Services like Pinterest that allow people to post items found anywhere on the internet have a major downside in that they can potentially direct users to items that are sold out or unavailable – particularly on Etsy, which by definition wants to sell items that have a limited supply.
Plus, there’s the advantage of Amazon’s Affiliate Program, which provides a revenue stream that is perfect for a fledgling company. A similar company, Wanelo, which also uses the affiliate program, posted a value of $100 million last year.
There’s even a possibility that systems like this might push Amazon itself to become more user-friendly. An Amazon-affiliated commenter pointed out to the writers at TechCrunch that Amazon already has a service in place called Collections that offered big images and infinite scrolling in the manner of Pinterest – though it still doesn’t look nearly as nice. However, the fact that the writers of the TechCrunch article, and possibly the developers of Canopy, didn’t even know about the feature proves that Amazon’s design has become so bloated that it’s difficult to find things. Perhaps it can reimagine its shopping experience before these scrappy affiliates start to siphon a significant amount of its cash – or start supporting the small businesses Amazon has been swiftly stomping out.