HowTo – Understanding Amazon Browse Nodes

Filed under: Web Design

amazon_logoIf you run an Amazon Store from a script then you should make use of Browse Nodes to retrieve your content from their directory.

Browse Nodes are how Amazon sorts their products. They are assigned IDs to categories within their database.

The worst thing about working with Amazon’s Database is that they don’t seem to have a grip on sorting items within their database by type. Its like going into your local department store and finding they put the baby food in with the garden tools. Not all of the Baby food, something you could count on day after day, just the stewed carrots… or sometimes the mashed pears.

Often what you want returned even if you go by their standard is accompanied with products that are way outside of the topic you are searching. This could be because they want to cross market products but it could also be because the initial input of products in different categories is managed poorly.

Anyway what you are left with is grabbing their feed with their api and sifting through the categories the best you can.

If you were to look up BrowseNodeId=1 which is Arts And Photography Books you would find it is  a parent category for about 18 other categories such as BrowseNodeId=1876 which is Art Books on Painting.  Under Painting Art Books you would find another group of nodes including BrowseNodeId=171126 which is Art Books on Oil Painting.

As you can see the organization of the numbers has no meaning.

And because Amazon has something like 120,000 nodes just for the USA and many others used only on its international sites Japan Canada Germany, the likely hood of them getting around to sorting them anytime soon is pretty low.

There useto be a pretty decent listing of the most popular Browse Nodes and a few sites that allowed searching of terms to find correct Node Numbers but as they have changed their API and moved to XML feeds the reliability of hard-coding the children of any parent is not very good.

So, what can you do?

First you can simply go to amazon and review their directory structure.

If you have a browse node ID, you can find the name of the browse node by putting the ID into one of the following URLs, depending on the locale:

  •[Browse Node ID]
  •[Browse Node ID]
  •[Browse Node ID]
  •[Browse Node ID]
  •[Browse Node ID]
  •[Browse Node ID]

Your store should have access to most if not all (98%) of the same data that Amazon uses for their own site.

You can also make use of older Browse Node Listings. . They don’t change a lot but you should check them. Use these nodes to grab the parent node and then within your script read in the children.

You can also make use of Amazons Developer Help Site.

And their user Form

It is really more or less a self help site where other users help when they know something but most of the time you can get a good answer.

Remember that browse nodes are not constant and they can change from time to time without notice. For the most part you will see additions but there are always deletions too.

Write your code to make use of the Amazon API to retrieve the children and parent nodes.

Let your code read in the feed and your visitors to drill down and navigate dynamically.

Review Amazons own store if you need special nodes when building a specialty site.

Use Amazons sample code to understand the API.