Amazon's most confusing feature is finally explained.
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If you've shopped on Amazon in the past year or so, you've almost certainly seen this helpful blue badge everywhere: Amazon's Choice.
The Amazon's Choice program launched a while back as a way for the company to put a stamp of approval on certain products. Though it initially launched with recommendations for tough-to-shop-for categories like laptops and TVs–offering curated picks for things like budget-friendly laptops, gaming computers, and big-screen TVs—the badge has recently showed up everywhere.
Now, almost any time you search for a product on Amazon, you'll be greeted by at least one product that has the "Amazon's Choice" designation. For example, searching for "best toaster oven" yields this result for the Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Toaster Oven:
Go to the product page, and you'll see that this has been designated "Amazon's Choice" for people who are searching for "best toaster oven." Though this has been here for at least the last six months, Amazon now also lists a number of reasons why it's making this pick:
First, it's highly rated with over 80% 4- and 5-star reviews. Second, it's returned 34% less often than similar products. Third, it's popular specifically with people searching for "best toaster oven."
Based on other Amazon's Choice products, Amazon also factors in a product's availability and whether it's available for free two-day shipping with Prime. Basically, they should be good products that you can buy quickly and easily.
Though it was easy to guess that Amazon prioritized good, Prime-eligible products before, the additional information helps demystify why Amazon's algorithms picked one product over another. For example, why recommend the $65 Hamilton Beach toaster when a very similar Black & Decker is the best-seller in the category and costs just $29.99 on sale?
Amazon certainly could still be factoring in its own bottom line here, but the explanations help quiet those doubts. Knowing that the Hamilton Beach has slightly better reviews (80% 4- and 5-star vs 75%) and possibly a lower return rate, are enough to make me not question Amazon's motives. (The Hamilton Beach was also our favorite affordable option in our roundup of the best toaster ovens, so we agree with the pick).
Add it up, and Amazon is using some of its most valuable real estate on the page to provide some critical info to shoppers. We'd still prefer if Amazon used real reviews from real people—hey, like us!—to make its picks instead of an algorithm, but Amazon's most confusing feature just became its most useful one, and that's a win to us.