Amazon Choice: What Is It, and What Does It Mean?
A new restaurant just opened up near you. You WANT to try it, but at the same time, you have not quite been able to convince yourself to go.
Is it just me, or does that sound a little too familiar to you?
You, like me, are most likely most people! When it comes to purchasing decisions, most people desire assurance that a particular product or service will be worth their money prior to buying it.
Being able to read reviews or find something recommended by a credible source is incredibly helpful. Yet, faced with too many choices, all with raving reviews, the choices can become paralyzing!
Amazon’s goal is obviously to get you to buy more of their products. So as the host of over 12 million products, how exactly is the Amazon marketplace combatting choice overload to help people move past indecision?
The answer? Amazon’s Choice program.
What is Amazon’s Choice?
In 2014, when the first Amazon Echo smart speaker debuted, consumers who chose to voice shop had been limited to purchasing products they had purchased previously. However, in 2015, Amazon introduced Amazon’s Choice, a feature reportedly developed to make voice shopping with Amazon Alexa easier. The update bestowed an Amazon’s Choice status on hundreds of items and paved the way for shoppers to finally purchase products they had not purchased before with only their voice.
Today, if Alexa is prompted to search for a product keyword, the order of recommendations Alexa voices choices are:
(1) a similar item that is already located in the customer’s order history
(2) the Amazon Choice product for the corresponding keyword
(3) the top search result if there is no Amazon Choice option available.
Debunking Amazon’s Choice Criteria Myths
Now, as an Amazon seller, you may be interested in acquiring the Amazon’s Choice label for your product.
According to CNET and Reader’s Digest, the only statement the company has formally given is, “We launched Amazon’s Choice in 2015 as a way to simplify shopping for customers by highlighting highly rated, well-priced products ready to ship immediately for the most popular searches on Amazon.”
There is a lot of speculation surrounding how to acquire the Amazon’s Choice badge.
Here are some myths we can debunk for you right now that have been circulating around Amazon’s algorithm:
1. Some Amazon sellers assume Amazon’s Choice goes to the product with the best conversion rate or the most interactions for a specified keyword.
However, this is NOT true. When we did an Amazon search for the keyword coffin shelf, the product displaying the Amazon’s Choice badge was not a coffin shelf, but rather, a desk or makeup organizer.
The desk/makeup organizer was irrelevant to the keyword we typed in and appeared not to be the highest converting.
Popular items typically tend to congregate together at the top of the page. Yet, the makeup organizer appeared approximately 20th on the search results page, suggesting the product probably only has 3 to 4 conversions for the keyword. The Amazon’s Choice item for the keyword coffin shelf would have ranked higher on the page if it had more sales.
Cross checking brand analytics showcases Manny’s Mysterious Oddities Coffin Shelf has the number one click and conversion rate at 24.83% and 27.08%, respectively. Even so, neither Manny’s nor the other leading two products have the Amazon’s Choice badge.
If Manny’s is the best seller for the keyword “coffin shelf,” why is it not Amazon’s Choice? If the Gothic Desk Organizer/Coffin Make Up Organizer is not in the Top 3 for clicks or purchases, why is it Amazon’s Choice?
Oddly enough, the Amazon’s Choice for coffin shelves (plural) is the following dreamcatcher – a product that is wholly irrespective of the nature of the specific keyword typed in. Prospective buyers performing an Amazon search for the keyword “coffin shelves” would be looking at a product that does not even provide the same functionality as the keyword they had typed into the search bar.
2. Another myth is boasting an Amazon’s Choice badge will always help sellers increase sales.
False. People will not purchase Amazon’s Choice product simply because it is Amazon’s Choice. Logically speaking, consumers looking to buy a coffin shelf are unlikely to add the makeup organizer to their cart because that is NOT what they need.
Undoubtedly, occasionally, the Amazon’s Choice badge may sway some people in the right direction, but it does not in any way guarantee sales. If it did, the makeup organizer would have appeared higher up in the keyword search results.
Out of curiosity, we used the polling software, Pickfu, to ask 50 Amazon prime members how the Amazon’s choice badge affected their buying decisions. Half of those who answered the poll chose, “The product that has Amazon’s Choice is irrelevant to me. I’m only looking for the product that meets my needs” implying the label does not affect their buying decision at all.
3. Perhaps Amazon’s Choice is given to the product with the best overall ranking for keywords?
While this guess is a rational one, Helium 10’s Cerebro validated this assumption as baseless. Cerebro is a software tool that allows users to perform a reverse ASIN lookup on any product to identify which keywords said product is ranking for.
To illustrate, we did a reverse ASIN search on the Manny’s Mysterious Oddities coffin shelf, and Cerebro served as a filter for all keywords that had the word “coffin” in them.
Despite emerging as page one, position one for nearly all of them in both organic ranking and sponsored ranking, we did not hold the Amazon’s Choice label. (Note: If there is an Amazon’s Choice indicator, but it is not colored orange, black and white, it means there is an Amazon Choice for that keyword, but it is not the product you are looking at).
Since our coffin shelf is the highest ranked for these keywords, one would presume it would be Amazon’s Choice, but clearly, that is not the case.
4. Products with faster shipping times, more positive reviews, or more extensive stock are always more inclined to be branded as Amazon’s Choice.
Surprisingly, faster shipping times and having sufficient inventory at your disposal does not always contribute to badge selection. Recall the makeup/desk organizer with Amazon’s Choice label for the keyword “coffin shelf.” The organizer had a delivery date of over a week when we checked; only nine products were left in stock, and the product had a mere 60 reviews. Manny’s Mysterious Oddities coffin shelf offered same-day delivery, no low-inventory warning, AND 674 reviews. The contrast between these two products exemplifies why statement number five is inaccurate.
Takeaways to Remember
As an Amazon seller, understand that having the Amazon’s Choice badge does not always signify a better click-through rate, better conversions, or a better product.
Helium 10’s Cerebro also doubles as a market tracker. Although the data from Cerebro makes it clear we hold zero Amazon’s Choice badges for coffin shelves, we still successfully sold over $30,000 of the Manny’s Mysterious Oddities coffin shelf last month in December.
Of course, it does not hurt to have the Amazon’s Choice badge. If you have an Amazon’s Choice product and it is genuinely relevant to the keyword the product is appearing for, it may benefit your product’s sales. Should this be your case, take advantage of it! Aim to ensure your PPC expenditure is a rewarding, positive cash-flow one and increase your page rankings. Getting on page one or two can be as easy as improving your keyword rankings.
If an Amazon shopper were looking at two to four similar products that all are priced similarly and not from well-known brands, then it is possible having the Amazon’s Choice badge could work in your favor.
Bear in mind the criteria for which Amazon’s Choice is awarded should not be the foremost priority on your mind. Since it is hard to decipher how to acquire the badge and what it can do for you, we highly recommend spending your time on things that are more within your control.
If you are looking for additional strategies to influence your product performance directly, give Bradley Sutton’s Maldives Honeymoon podcast a listen. He discusses distinct techniques such as placing tactical keywords in the title to help launch and assist keyword ranking in the podcast.
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