- Customers are happy when they get stuff fast - it needs to be available right now, and in the buy box
- Higher rated items are theoretically better than lower rated items
- "choice" badge is keyword specific: a plant light could be choice for "grow light bulb" and "grow light led" but not for "light bulb".
Our data shows the items are not correlated by margins for. We often see negative NET PPM on "choice" items.
Source: I run an Amazon consultancy that manages roughly $30M/year sold through Amazon.
but, pessimistically or realistically, I expect they are also training customers to blindly trust the black box and eventually the criteria will change towards maximizing short-term value.
I wrote to jeff (at) amazon (dot) com last week about this, because I got super upset. And some middle manager replied. I shipped US -> UK some underwear from a company that uses no latex (I'm allergic), sends items inside a ziplocked sealed bag and prohibits underwear returns (for hygiene reasons).
After waiting for the parcel for 2 days at home, as I was in a hurry to get more latex free underwear, I got an Amazon envelope and the underwear came inside without any packaging and clearly used (!). I was furious.
Not an isolated event. A few weeks ago, I ordered a shower with a chlorine filter from Amazon UK. I know this korean brand very well. Again, I got the item without any original packaging, and water inside (!).
So I don't trust Amazon anymore for items that are more than $10. People abuse the return policy, and Amazon does not care. Or it's even their business model: Ship it again, selling it as new. Online shopping is getting very tricky.
I'd gladly pay more at places that guarantee brand new items. Things are getting really scammy. Around 1/5 of the items I buy online have been opened and used, or have some defects. And I'm talking about expensive stuff and supposedly reputable sellers.
Looking now, I'm surprised to see they've actually fixed it and have chosen something appropriate. 
The counterfeit problem is real. Like half of their intel 10gbe NIC are counterfeit (I know because a Synology NAS will only work with a guenine model).
With climbing gear, it seems to be less about counterfeits, and more about shady manufacturers / knockoffs with illegitimate safety certifications.
Hot forging takes a lot of work and tooling. I'm not sure there's ever been true counterfeit climbing hardware in the wild.
It's also a pretty blatant violation of Amazon's TOS.
But that has a little advantage. When they send you used items, it is easy to notice.
If you buy at some reputable shops, they know how to scam you and resell used items as brand new, not as refurbished, grade A or whatever, which is illegal at least in EU.
For example, I wrote to the customer service of a famous fountain pen shop in the UK asking about return policies on a very particular model which comes sealed with stickers. I was shocked when they said I could not only open the box and inspect the pen, but also ink it and use it. If after a week I decide I no longer like it, I should just send it back. It will get sold as brand new. They only advised me to open the stickers really carefully to facilitate their (scam) task.
In fact, if you shop around their website, you'd notice there are practically no refurbished or open box items in proportion to their high volume of sales.
If you ask any fountain pen enthusiast, a pen that has been used for a week is not new. Just like a car that has 2000 km in the dial. Good shops even sell models have been dipped in ink, not even filled, at a heavy discount.
For example, no Pilot is sealed except the 823. I don't think any brands other than MB, TWSBI and Dupont make it obvious to notice if a pen has been opened.
Same with good mechanical keyboards. E.g. all Leopolds are sent to EU and US retailers without stickers.
Trading Standards used to be really great about responding to these sorts of complaints, and for larger sites and retailers they'd have their own test shopping as well. Tory austerity means they haven't had budget for years so are almost completely toothless. Only when Brexit stops being the only issue driving UK politics will the systemic destruction of the successful parts of the UK ever get noticed again.
yeah. for some items, i've tried to avoid this phenomenon by ordering from, say, homedepot.com, or Lowes.com, but then it seems like they sometimes just send me items with damaged or blemished boxes, or opened product, which they couldn't sell in the brick and mortar retail stores.
Could I get something cheaper if I spend time looking for it? Maybe, but the time I spend looking is also money down the drain, for what usually amounts to savings of a couple dollars and cents. Rarely worth it.
The more nuanced problem, I think, is the fact that it can create a feedback loop. Something can be popular simply because it's cheap, but "Amazon's Choice" implies quality, which makes people think they're getting a deal because it's also cheap. What sprung to mind for me was LockpickingLawyer's series on Amazon's Choice for things like "padlock", lock, and safe, all of which were of fairly low quality, or at least lower quality than "Amazon's Choice" would suggest.
The problem is that, most of the time, people aren't going to know that what they have is low quality because it will almost never get tested and most people don't know anything about lock security. So they trust Amazon to tell them, when really it's the blind leading the blind
The "quality" of a padlock genuinely does not matter. You should know this if you watch LPL! An experienced picker can get into any lock. And a determined but less dexterous enemy can trivially cut any lock you paid less that $100 for. And even then it won't take someone with the right tool more than a minute or two to cut through any padlock.
It's the same way with bike locks, or really any lock. They are a deterrent against the unwashed masses, but they never actually stop a determined actor.
And that is never actually the point. Most theft is not personally targeted. Sure there are the times that someone cuts a hole through a storage unit into a neighboring unit they know has expensive stuff, but mostly it's opportunistic. If you have a weaker lock, you have greater risk. Especially if your lock is so weak that it is trivial to make it look like it wasn't broken until you try to open it.
This happened to me once. I bought my lock from the storage company, but someone broke and then visibly reassembled the lock. Lost all the early prototypes from my startup, plus thousands in replaceable equipment.
I think this is only true in limited circumstances. Someone went to the storage facility with the intention of stealing, and had the opportunity to window shop for the weakest looking lock.
Amazon's choice arrived years after my tenure at the big A, and I'm not sure it's directly connected, but it definitely helps solve this problem.
If I told a personal assistant "I want any kettle", they would know there's an implied <among buy-it-for-life high-quality stainless steel in America with a non-garish finish>.
They would also know me well enough to provide options when it's a non-commodity context, ie pressure cookers where the same implied values hold but I want to actually made the feature tradeoffs as a poweruser.
YouTube went down then global optimization path, and the experience was terrible...
it would be better phrased as what it truly is: a badge that says "popular item" or similar. even "shopper's choice". the intent of the badge is to sell (as the article states, combat the paradox of choice)
Although the ads & graphics were loaded, with the text highlights in place it looked like a weird redacted document.
By the time brands are talking to us, they already have products developed OR are actively launching them every year.
I am a software developer/eCommerce marketing guy, so I understand SEO and all the different levers that Amazon offers to get sales momentum moving faster and faster.
Our target market are the large brands, where sales to Amazon is still a rather small portion of their total GMV sales. Them hiring a sales consultant is better ROI (results / investment) than hiring an employee/team full-time internally.
Including conversions from ads?
Let's say you are way down in list, and pop up to be the Amazon Choice. That drives real sales increases. They might look at how many in warehouse local to you. Persons A, B, C put in cart - they slow rate at which AC shows up until they get a sense of whether all those will become sales or some will expire from cart etc.
Amazon has some places that feel like they have softer consistency guarantees. Ie, something shows up, but with some time passing things like price might change even while in your cart etc.
They'll have a sale on say multi bit screwdrivers on the end cap. It will look like a fancy screwdriver that is on sale with lots of features and bits.
Inevitably if I by these ... they suck and are actually expensive for the quality and often have "features" that get in the way (some sort of fancy grip, more bits).
If I go down the isle I'll find for far less a simple multi bit screwdriver that is both cheaper, and higher quality.
Accordingly I never trust these signs / actually avoid them as the same rule apply to cooking tools and so many other things.
As far as I know, "Amazon's choice" is not an advertisement/suppliers can't bid to be Amazon's choice.
Doing that would help, but probably not as much as you'd think. A lot of the fake review scams have the reviewers purchase the products legitimately and then get reimbursed through Paypal.
Giving away a few hundred or thousand items can lead to huge sales numbers.
Would have usually gotten a cheap one and have it break sooner rather than later but this thing is going strong so far.
For the record, my friend initially refused, and then compromised by labeling them "[Manager name]'s Picks".
Not the only thing retail stores do. It saddens me that this kind of dishonesty is actually a standard operating practice in retail.
Limiting oneself to a subset of information is not how one makes an informed decision.
I didn't say anything about reading every possible review. But you do need a good, rounded sample.
In my experience a lot of products have a single design flaw that causes almost all of the breakages excluding drops/water damage. I had a set of skullcandy headphones that the little arm thing on the ear part would snap just from the force of putting them on and taking them off too many times. Got a replacement and it happened again. Checked reddit and saw everyone has this same problem. Ended up getting the store to exchange them for a different pair.
Sellers are well aware how much of a boost a photo or video from a verified purchase can give.
I have sold locks as just one of thousands of products in the bicycle trade and you don't need to sell that many to know what you should be recommending to customers. It is not difficult. You don't have to pick/angle-grind them, you just need to listen to the customers.
There is a forest of locks out there, all different for slightly different use cases and customers do need a little bit of advice to get the right one. It is one of those situations where you can have two out of three of these things: security, a nice price or a manageable weight.
There is unwritten moral obligation to provide some customer service, as a shop assistant it would be pathologically wrong to sell someone a lock that is not suited for their use case. The same goes for any other product.
Sure there may be times when you might try your hardest to shift inventory, e.g. the models with last year's packaging that have got a bit dusty, or the ones that are over-abundant in the warehouse. But you can do that responsibly so the customer knows what the deal is.
In normal retail with a finite amount of shelf space you do not have sub-standard clone products taking up tonnes of space with little product differentiation. It makes no sense to sell these products as the profit from the sale is nowhere near as good as what you get selling a legitimate product. Besides, how on earth are the customers supposed to choose when the options are mind-boggling?
With the LPL Amazon locks series it seems clear to me that Amazon are selling highly branded products that are useless as 'choice' as well as off-brand junk as 'choice'. If a regular shop assistant was doing what they were doing then you would wonder whether they were trying to destroy the company!
In regular retail if you realise that some locks are sub-standard then you get the customers coming back with some horror story about how their shed was raided. Or they come in with the remains of what the thieves left behind. After profuse apologies they are cool about it, they have insurance and you help them get what they need. You then decide not to stock the offending locks again or to sell them only to people who are okay with the compromise.
Amazon just do not have this type of a feedback loop, they are not trimming down their range to only offer the customer the good stuff. They just don't get this aspect of customer service even though they excel in other areas.
Wow, this sounds like lawsuit material.
It's one thing to unwittingly carry counterfeit products. It's another thing entirely to actually endorse one.
I've picked Amazon's Choice a couple times because I gave up trying to research what would actually be the right product for me.
But it sounds like this has been replaced with a system that doesn't require any sort of human input.
They should rename it "Our Insane Algorithm's Choice."
So, in this case, the "Amazon's Choice" label seems to be very useful--it is marking pretty much the only third party Apple watch charger cable on Amazon that doesn't show obvious signs of being sold be a scammer.
However, if like me before you go look at the search results you go over to the side and check the "Prime" box to refine the search to just listings with Prime shipping, the "Amazon's Choice" ATETION listing from ZDAGO goes away! This makes no sense.
The results still do contain what appears to be the same ATETION cable (at least the specs are the same) , except now it is sold be WEIZY and fulfilled by Amazon, and is not an "Amazon's Choice", and is slightly cheaper. The WEIZY listing is a cesspool, like pretty much everything else in the category except the ZDAGO listing. It's full of questions and reviews that have nothing to do with the charger cable.
...followed by theories.
"toothpaste" and "best toothpaste" return different results; which is interesting.
Also, it mentions that, unsurprisingly, there are external companies attempting to reverse engineer the algorithm.
It's similar to how almost every Amazon product is a "best seller" in an extremely narrow category.
Why would Amazon do it differently, they clearly don't care about product quality; how else would they use the badge?
What you are describing sounds like "clearance" which is a pretty upfront designation (this didn't sell very well, it's here at a discount before we chuck it).
But I think the message that "Amazon's Choice" is intended to convey is "this product meets certain quality and value standards and is unlikely to disappoint you."
Of course, in practice, they could apply it in order to clear inventory. But with FBA, the inventory carrying cost isn't primarily theirs.
Example, Battenburg cake, when it's on promotion it always has one of: mismatches (not quite square), loose seams, cake edges (crust that's darker coloured, not burnt), too much jam. It's not old, but without the promotion it would probably end up in clearance because people are more choosy with "full price".
Similarly in restaurants, the waiter will recommend food that's not inferior, but would become so if it's not sold. Or to use a product their supplier discounted.
Managers special might be "we got excess inventory at our central warehouse and I get a bonus if we shift more of these, which are perfectly good product".