Understanding Amazon’s Choice and Voice-Powered Shopping

The dawn of conversational commerce and Amazon Alexa may mean convenience for shoppers, but it creates a new challenge for brands. As competition for a position on the search results page heats up, the competition of brand for awareness on Alexa product searches is even tighter.

When a shopper asks Alexa to order a product, the voice assistant goes to three types of Amazon Primed-authorized products to put in the shopping cart:

  1. Products that the shopper has purchased before.
  2. Products that have the “Amazon’s Choice” designation.
  3. Products that rank first in organic search.

Maximizing repeat customers and coming in first for search rankings are both clear goals for brands on Amazon, but what’s Amazon’s Choice?

Amazon launched the Amazon’s Choice program in May 2015 when they enabled purchasing on Amazon Echo and related devices. They describe it as a way to make recommendations for highly rated products that are ready to ship immediately.


Amazon's Choice for Shampoo

The Amazon’s Choice badge helps products stand out on Amazon’s search results page

According to a company spokesperson, “Amazon’s Choice recommendations are selected by taking a variety of factors into account including popularity, rating and review, availability, shipping speed, amongst other factors.”

Content26 took a closer look at how the Amazon’s Choice designation works it comes to voice-powered shopping.

Anatomy of an Alexa Search

Typically, when a shopper asks Alexa to search for a product, like toilet paper, Amazon will check to see if it’s something they’ve ordered before.

“Based on your order history, I’ve found Charmin UltraSoft…” Alexa will say, reciting the product title and price and asking, “Would you like to buy it?”

If the shopper says “no,” Alexa will suggest an Amazon’s Choice designated product. This will be the first product she offers to customers searching for something they’ve never purchased before.

“Amazon’s Choice for toilet paper is Angel Soft 2-ply…. Would you like to buy it?” she asks.

If the shopper answers “no,” Alexa will end the transaction, saying: “That’s all I can find right now.”

If a shopper hasn’t ordered the item in the past, or if there’s not a designated Amazon’s Choice product, Alexa will offer the top search result. However, she never suggests more than two products, which limits a manufacturer’s chance to win the sale.



Slide whistle Amazon's Choice

It’s hard to predict which types of products will have an Amazon Choice designation

How Do Products Get Selected for Amazon’s Choice?

Right now, brands are not able to request the Amazon’s Choice designation, and Amazon is not charging manufacturers for the badge. Many have predicted that Amazon will start to offer premium voice exposure for brands in the future.

While the designation remains beyond a brand’s control, it makes sense for manufacturers to know which of their products are tagged as Amazon’s Choice. By knowing which products are labeled as Amazon’s Choice, brands can make optimizing voice compatibility for those product pages a top priority.

Testing the Amazon’s Choice Designation

For one month, we asked Alexa to search for 20 everyday products ranging from toilet paper to ballpoint pens. She offered Amazon’s Choice recommendations for all but four of the products. There was no readily-apparent commonality among the products that did not have a recommendation.

Alexa did not have an Amazon’s Choice suggestion for the specific search “boys size 7 underwear,” for example, but she also stuck to the top search results for the general search “shampoo.” She was able to offer an Amazon’s Choice option for hair “conditioner,” though, perhaps indicating a choice for shampoo is on the way.

Amazon has said that Amazon’s Choice selections are continuously updated, however, the badge-winner for many top-selling products like toilet paper, dog food and face cream were consistent during the month we tested.

Amazon voice search is changing rapidly

Amazon's choice banner for laptops

While it is hard to predict the future of Amazon’s voice search, it is clearly evolving daily.

In December, Alexa added a new question to her shopping repertoire, for example. Now, when a shopper asks Alexa to search for toothpaste or cat food, she will ask,

“OK. I can look for brands like Colgate (or Fancy Feast). What would you like?”

The Takeaway

In the dynamic and competitive world of voice search, products with Amazon’s Choice badges are sure to land in front of customers. Brands need to know which of their products have this status, ensuring their content is optimized for voice.

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