Amazon is such a vast, expansive marketplace that one can hardly be blamed for getting lost when searching for things to buy. Whether you’re looking for medicine, clothing, or even electronics, there’s no shortage of options available to purchase. Plus, with Prime shipping, they can be at your door in as little as two days (or under an hour by drone — coming soon).
To make Amazon easier to navigate and shop with, many people turn to “Amazon’s Choice” items when it’s time to check out. These items are often less expensive, have tons of verified purchases, and appear near the top of search queries. This makes them attractive for shoppers that don’t have time to comb through pages of similar-looking goods.
That said, “Amazon’s Choice” items might not be all that they’re cracked up to be. The method Amazon uses to determine “Choice” items doesn’t necessarily reflect their quality, and people are finding themselves burned by shoddy products with sketchy origins. You won’t believe what’s pushing these items to the top of your searches.
Amazon’s Choice is all about the algorithm
Unlike a “best seller” icon, an “Amazon’s Choice” label next to a product gives the item an air of exclusivity. It almost seems curated — as if Amazon actually took the time to test and review every product included as a “Choice,” but nothing could be further from the truth.
I bought the “Amazon’s Choice” skateboard for $35 ? pic.twitter.com/n9ylxcBFFn
— John Hill (@johnhilltube) October 20, 2018
As it turns out, Amazon’s Choice items are actually determined by an algorithm. This recommendation algorithm works off of several metrics in order to serve you products that Amazon thinks you’re more likely to buy.
Popularity is one area since bestselling items are usually well received by consumers. Another is pricing, which helps provide some less expensive options for the discerning shopper.
This also has a double-edged sword effect of pushing cheaply made products to the top of the algorithm. Although many shoppers will feel like they’re saving money by buying a “brandless” or “generic” Choice item from Amazon, what they’re actually getting is usually just a cheap best seller.
Availability and customer reviews also factor into how Amazon recommends its products, but the latter can be subtly manipulated by manufacturers creating fake user reviews.
How can I avoid buying low-quality Amazon’s Choice products?
This isn’t to say that all Amazon’s Choice products are inherently bad. Far from it!
You can actually find amazing deals on products that are genuinely popular with other users. The fact is, however, that Amazon the company isn’t doing the “choosing” so much as Amazon the website.
This illusion of curation can be a major selling point for several of these products, but knowing that the label is automated can help shoppers make more informed decisions when choosing an item.
To keep yourself safe from faulty goods while shopping, make sure to carefully read the reviews. Items with a small number of high-ranking reviews should be judged with skepticism compared to a product with a large amount of diverse, verified reviews.
In addition, it’s possible to do your part in the fight against shoddy goods by leaving your impressions as a product review. A verified review with photos can help people avoid making the same mistake, and can actually help de-rank products that don’t deserve the “Choice” label.
Going forward, Amazon claims it’ll be clamping down more harshly on fake reviews. Its hope, in the end, is that it’ll make the marketplace and its algorithm easier to use and manage.
For the time being, you may have to use your best judgment when shopping — ignoring the shiny labels and testimonials that surround the product when you inspect it. Just like the old days!