What does Amazon’s new ‘Top Brand’ feature really mean?
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
Amazon has become such a huge, all-encompassing company that sells all manner of goods around the world, that it has had to come up with ways to distinguish its best quality products from the rest.
It’s an enormous marketplace where millions of independent Sellers from all corners of the globe sell their products. Amazon needs to both cut out poorly-performing companies on its platform, and also steer customers toward the brands it knows they’re likely to be satisfied with, or risk them getting overwhelmed and going somewhere else with their hard-earned money.
To do that, they have tried a variety of methods in recent years. They include the product reviews and star ratings that most consumers are now familiar with, and also more confusing ones like ‘Amazon’s Choice’, which has found itself the subject of scrutiny from lawmakers. More of that later.
The latest one is ‘Top Brand’, which even more confusingly is slightly different from the long-standing ‘Top Brands’ search filter. You could still use that method of searching and find products there that do not boast the new ‘Top Brand’ badge bestowed on certain others.
Amazon has gone some way to explaining the difference by pointing out that the new ‘Top Brand’ badge feature is restricted purely to clothes, accessories and luggage, while the ‘Top Brands’ search filter covers the entire marketplace. One example being that not all women’s belts are found within the fashion category, so they’re not eligible for the ‘Top Brand’ badge, even though Amazon might consider them to be Top Brands generally.
So then what actually is a ‘Top Brand’ - which is still in the testing stage? Amazon have kept relatively tight-lipped about the system, simply saying that the badge “highlights the brands customers love”, without saying how that is determined.
A recent survey of four Amazon experts tried to get to the bottom of how Amazon works the more long-standing ‘Top Brands’ search filter - and each came up with different theories.
The website wired.com reported: “Fred Dimyan, the CEO of Potoo Solutions, a firm that consultants with ecommerce companies, says Amazon takes two factors into consideration when awarding the honor: the amount of products a brand sells and how many different products they offer in the first place. In other words, companies that make a narrow range of goods, but sell a lot of them, are likely to be Top Brands.
“Dave Bryant, an Amazon seller and blogger, thinks the distinction might be related to customers’ overall purchase satisfaction, which can include metrics like how often people returned items.
“James Thomson, a former Amazon employee and a partner at Buy Box Experts, a firm that consults with independent Amazon sellers, says Top Brands likely have high sales volumes and high conversion rates, meaning a lot of people who look at their product listings ultimately choose to buy from them.
“Chris McCabe, another former Amazon employee who now consults with Amazon sellers at eCommerceChris.com, says Top Brands are the highest revenue-earning items in a certain category.”
One thing the experts did agree on was the new ‘Top Brand’ is not a title companies can buy to display on their product listing. Others have speculated that it could be a step towards the kind of verified systems used on leading social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But that seems to ignore the fact that relatively unknown companies have the ‘Top Brand’ badge.
What is certain is that these methods of evaluating products on Amazon has earned the attention of lawmakers in America. In August Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos asking for a detailed explanation on how Amazon’s Choice badge is awarded. That came following a Buzzfeed investigation uncovered that poor-quality items had been handed the label.
Both the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have announced that they are investigating the business practices of online marketplaces, citing Amazon specifically. And another Senator, Elizabeth Warren, publicly expressed concern that Amazon is favouring its own house brands over those from competitors.
Again, Amazon has not responded directly to these concerns, leaving another element of mystery. Perhaps it is time that they clarify exactly how these statuses are being awarded, and why.
Thompson and Holt’s managing partner Craig Gedey has welcomed the move but believes that more clarity would help businesses on Amazon.
He said: “Thompson and Holt would always encourage features that help customers obtain a better service from Amazon.
“However, for Sellers themselves, so more detail on how the system works would certainly be useful so that they can work towards constantly improving standards.”