If you've used the Internet there is a large chance you've heard of Amazon.
What started out as a small online book store has grown and grown and you can buy just about anything you would find in any high street retailer on their site.
A feature they have had for many years is the "wish list"
The idea is that while browsing the Amazon store you can add anything to your wish list. That way you can come back at a later date and purchase the items or you could provide friends and relatives with your wish list address so at birthdays, holidays, anniversary's, etc they can get you a gift safe in the knowledge it's something that you really want. It's a bit like a wedding list. But just for you!
This has advantages for both sides.
As mentioned you and your family can ensure they all get gifts that they enjoy!
Amazon hope you'll buy this specifically from them (you don't have to but I'll cover this in a minute) buy they also get some great business information from this.
One example is that its now very easy for them to figure out which items are popular so that they can ensure they have enough stock to meet the demand.
Setting one up is pretty simple.
Visit www.amazon.co.uk and create an account if you don't already have one (top right)
After that click on the "Gifts & Wish Lists" option at the top of the home page and then click the "wish list" link.
You can edit your profile to include a picture and details of yourself so that friends and family can find you easily (there is a search capability) and even add items such as your birthday and your delivery address so items can be shipped straight to you (your delivery address is only known to Amazon so no-one can randomly find your address)
You can create as many lists as you need.
I have my own personal list as well as a list for books I'm interesting in for IBIT.
All you then need to do is add items to your lists which is also very simple.
While you are browsing the site add you see something you're interested in just click the "Add to Wish List" button.
You can manage your list and specify how many of a certain item you may have, add comments or set a priority if you REALLY want something.
This may all sound well and good but what if you want something that Amazon don't actually sell?
In the past there wasn't anything you could do about it but Amazon recently added a feature called the "Universal Wish List"
You can add a button to your web browser that will add the link to any page into your wish list.
There is a link with the setup instructions for all the major browsers on the wish list page
Here's how it works.
While I'm visiting another web site I see something I'd like to add to my wish list.
I click the button I previously setup and a box appears in the corner of the site.
It will try and pick up the title and the appropriate image but you can customise this as you see fit.
All you need to do is enter the price (it's not quite that clever!) and click the "add to list" button.
The item then appears on your wish list.
Anyone viewing your wishlist can now click the link and be taken back to the original web site even though it's not Amazon!
So the final piece of the puzzle is how do Amazon know when something like this has been purchased? I don't want TWO Space Invaders Alarm Clocks!
Or what if I find something on the wish list is simply cheaper else where?
When someone else is viewing your wish list there are shown this view
You can simply click on the "Buying this gift elsewhere option" and enter some details.
The item will then be marked as "reserved" and won't appear on the wish list for anyone else.
The Amazon wish list is a great free to use service whether you just want to build a list of items you're interested in or just want to give your friends and family a nudge in the right direction it's worth checking out!