Updated from 1:58 p.m. to include comments from Amazon.
Though Amazon has yet to announce anything, a new site www.amazon.com/stream has surfaced. The page bears a strong resemblance to Pinterest with the page largely covered with images and the ability to save different products to a personalized board called "Your Saves," which serves as an alternative to Amazon's wishlist.
"We are constantly looking for ways to improve the shopping experience for our customers," Amazon spokesperson Julie Law said in an email, when asked to comment on Stream.
It seems as though this is an experiment for a new, more visual layout that could either replace Amazon's current layout, or act as a secondary viewing option, with the goal being to cater to consumers' preferences.
"In the brick-and-mortar world, we think of this as changes in merchandising and how [products are] displayed in stores," Gartner analyst Gene Alvarez said. "From a display perspective, some of this is Amazon trying to innovate the customer experience and stay ahead, some of this is a 'Can we do something a little different than Pinterest or even eBay EBAY has done?'"
The ever consumer-centric Amazon is always trying to figure out how to better serve its shoppers and turn them into loyal customers and possibly even advocates and Amazon evangelists.
"The whole user experience from a shopping perspective online...is what customers truly evaluate on where they place their trust and loyalty with," Alvarez said. "This is Amazon experimenting with new ways to raise the bar on customer experience and build competitive differentiation for them."
Amazon has experimented with its design before. In August 2013 it tested another Pinterest-like format called Collections, which seems to have since been taken down. Like Stream, Collections offered a more visual display of products, but it also incorporated more social capabilities such as the ability to follow other users and view their saved items. Perhaps similar social features could be added to Stream at some point.
While it's possible Stream, like Collections, will eventually disappear, if consumers hop on board and prefer the new search format, Amazon could tie it into its standard homepage. Amazon takes a very data-focused approach to design, according to one Amazon employee who works on the site's user experience. If one design leads to more sales, that's the one they'll go with, he said--down to the color of a product page's text or the location of a buy button.
And while Amazon may be a bit more extreme in its tendency to tie design directly to sales, it's certainly not unique in the tech industry.
"The big trend here is that your online experience has to be intuitive, easy, fun, and many other things that we have yet to learn," Alvarez said. "If you look at companies like Google (GOOGL), Amazon, eBay, and other online giants, they continually play with the customer experience. This is one of the visual approaches and we'll see more of this style coupled with the use of video to help customers quickly understand the product and determine does it match their wants and needs."