Opinion Brief

Amazon's 'risky' new redesign

The mega e-retailer might alienate customers by replacing the familiar site with a sleek, tablet-friendly look

Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, is testing a "major redesign" of its website. The streamlined new look (see the screenshots here) appears especially suited for tablet computers, giving credence to the mounting rumors that Amazon will release a tablet of its own in the coming weeks. But with all of the offerings Amazon has added of late, from the Cloud Player to streaming video, and with the holiday shopping season approaching, some suggest that a site redesign is "risky." Is it?

Nope. This is a smart move: The new design is more "mobile-friendly" and looks "more current," says analyst Ezra Gottheil, as quoted by InfoWorld. Sure, people will continue shopping from their computers for awhile. But with the rise of tablets, Amazon customers' buying behavior is bound to become more mobile, and "it makes sense to go in this direction.""Amazon redesigning website for tablets, report says"

And the new site will complement Amazon's tablet well: Add this redesign to the mounting evidence that an Amazon tablet is coming soon, says Sarah Perez at TechCrunch. "The new site features a much bigger search bar, bigger buttons, and less clutter — all changes that practically scream 'tablet-optimized!'" The new design also puts an emphasis on digital purchases — MP3s, ebooks, and apps. You don't have to think hard about "what customers would be looking for those sorts of items.""Amazon.com's big redesign is arriving soon for all"

But the timing is hardly ideal: "While change is necessary, the company is taking a real risk in altering its main stage," says Anthony John Agnello at InvestorPlace. With Amazon preparing to challenge the iPad with its own tablet, it's especially important that its retail operation continues to please customers. New websites tend to crash, and new services tend to have errors. "Change is good, but Amazon needs to tread carefully.""Amazon redesign: A risky new face"

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