What Does It Mean When a Product Is 'Amazon's Choice'?

WIRED | 6/4/2019 | Louise Matsakis
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Consumers like to have choices. Few people would eat at a restaurant that only served one dish. But researchers have found there's such a thing as too many options. “Choice overload” can have negative effects, like the nagging worry you didn’t get the right thing or feeling so overwhelmed you opt not to buy anything at all. Amazon, perhaps more than any other retailer, needs to find innovative ways to combat choice overload. The everything store recently boasted that it can deliver over 10 million products with its one-day delivery service alone. Searching the site for something as basic as “towels” can return more than 60,000 options.

To tackle the problem, Amazon created a suite of features to help shoppers select from a range of seemingly identical products. You can sort by “average” star rating, for example, or browse the best selling products in different categories. One innovation the company devised is “Amazon’s Choice,” a distinctive black badge typically bestowed on a single product per search term. The company says the award is given to “Highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.” But for many categories, dozens of options fit that description. How does Amazon choose its choices? Do humans have a hand in the decisions, or are they governed by an algorithm?

Louise - Matsakis - Amazon - Internet - Law

Louise Matsakis covers Amazon, internet law, and online culture for WIRED.

The company won’t say. “Amazon’s Choice is just our recommendation, and customers can always ask for specific brands or products if they choose,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. Despite the human connotation of the word choice, Amazon’s Choice almost certainly doesn’t reflect the editorial opinion of Amazon’s employees—it’s unlikely they’re individually assessing millions of products. The badge is probably instead controlled by automation, but Amazon isn’t transparent about exactly how it works. “It’s not what customers...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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