Rebecca Allen: The Woman Behind Amazon's ASINs
The article details the story behind Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs), the unique key used to identify products in Amazon's catalog. ASINs were created when Amazon's CTO Shel Kaphan and Software Engineer Paul (then) Barton-Davis had to write all the software needed to power Amazon.com and decided to use ISBN as their key. However, due to the abuse of ISBNs in the United States, Rebecca Allen proposed the use of a minimum-impact-on-the-code “ASIN”, which she designed to make sure ASINs would not run out in her lifetime.Amazon has gone through over 100 billion ASINs since 1997, and the velocity of ASINs has increased due to expiration dates and regional variations.
The article also mentions the statistic that Amazon prevented over 6 million attempts to create new selling accounts and blocked more than 10 billion suspected bad listings before they were published in their store. Additionally, the article compares the ASINs to other unique identifiers used by other online stores, such as Target's TCIN, Walmart's SKU and BrickSeek's 9 digit number.
This article is essential reading for brands and sellers who want to understand how ASINs are used, why they are important and how they differ from other online stores' identifiers. Rebecca Allen's insight into the design and development of ASINs makes for an interesting read and provides a remarkable insight into the history and evolution of Amazon's catalog.