Senatorial Questioning on Amazon’s Choice Program


After senatorial questioning, spurred by a report about problems with Amazon Choice products, Amazon responded. While ensuring that reports with problem products are taken seriously, Amazon’s response emphasized how difficult it is to make personal evaluations of recipients of the badge.


The original story from BuzzFeed pointed out inferior products that received the seemingly prestigious badge. Senators Bob Mendez and Richard Blumenthal questioned Amazon about the badge and were not satisfied with Amazon’s answers. Amazon maintained the secrecy of its algorithms but tried to ensure that reported inferior products will be more closely evaluated.


Naturally, the details of how a company like Amazon.com conducts its business is held to some degree of secrecy. Amazon did, however, provide a few points of interest.

· More than 2 million listings receive the Amazon Choice label each month.

· Recipients of the badge are chosen by an algorithm and not manually reviewed by Amazon employees.


· Products normally need an average rating of 4/5 stars to become an Amazon Choice product but can lose eligibility with a high percentage of 1-star ratings.

· Sellers cannot pay to become Amazon Choice.


· Over 56% of units sold with Amazon Choice come from third-party sellers, making it unlikely that it could be used to promote Amazon’s own products.


The assignment of an Amazon Choice badge--which primarily considers rating, price, and availability--is vulnerable to exploitation, like Amazon’s reviewing system. The e-retailer is trying to deal with these fraudulent abuses of the system, but it is difficult to keep up. By taking the steps that will optimize products’ standings in the algorithm, legitimate vendors can be awarded the badge. Then, by providing a quality product and service, vendors will build up customer trust in their brand and Amazon as a whole.


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