Amazon apparently rolled out a quiet, but important, feature in the past couple of weeks: the Universal Wish List. By “universal,” Amazon’s simply referring to its ability to snag non-Amazon products and track them alongside its own inventory in its existing Wish List system.
I’ve been trying to get my extended family to use Amazon’s Wish List system for years to better manage gift lists for the holidays, so this is a particularly welcome addition. Inevitably, duplicate gifts are purchased, as there was no central place to manage non-Amazon gifts (such as a Sears Craftsman tool or gift certificate to a local restaurant) in the past.
Now, however, anything that can be found online (such as a Craigslist ad, eBay listing, photo from a news site, etc.) can be turned into an entry on your Amazon Wish List. Using the new Amazon.com Universal Wish List button, an object can be flagged from the browser toolbar in seconds.
As a side note, Steve Rubel points out that “it’s conceivable that this could become a social commerce feature over time given Amazon’s popular Associates program.” This brings up an interesting idea: if Amazon can now “collect” objects/items it doesn’t sell, track whether they’ve been purchased (and by whom), handle transactions with 3rd-party merchants, and offer “affiliate” (or referral) fees, why not extend the program to broker other 3rd-party affiliate promotions? Personally, I far prefer Amazon’s Affiliates program to LinkShare, Commission Junction, and others before it, in terms of ease of sign up, management, link building, and reporting. Why not take the next step by plugging in the 3rd-party affiliate programs, thus further extending Amazon’s ownership of the online shopping experience?