Whether you realize it or not, every buying decision we humans make comes with a load of subconscious brain work happening in the background. The way we make decisions (i.e. the way our brains work in general) isn’t the only thing that impacts that subconscious brain work. It’s also how the decisions are presented to us.

Much of this article was inspired by the book The Elements of Choice: Why the Way We Decide Matters, by Eric Johnson. If you are interested at all in the psychological elements present in customer interactions, this is a great one to read. 

Now, onto how to apply these principles to selling on Amazon. First, we’ll start with a brief overview of how humans choose.

Explanation of Choice Elements (how we make choices…or put another way; how the brain works)

Plausible Paths

The concept of “plausible paths” pertains to the choices that are easily accessible or logical for people to consider when making decisions. These are often the options that require the least mental effort to process.

How Our Brains Make Decisions:

Our brains are hardwired to follow the path of least resistance or effort. This cognitive efficiency means that choices that are readily available, familiar, or require minimal mental effort are often the ones that we select by default. Think mental short-cuts.

Preference Assembly

“Preference assembly” refers to the dynamic process through which people construct their preferences based on the options presented to them. Basically, it’s how we recall and decide on our preferences in the moment.

How Memory Impacts Our Decisions:

Past experiences, biases, and stored information in our memory play a significant role in how we assemble our preferences. For example, if a customer had a positive experience with a particular brand in the past, they are more likely to favor products from that brand in the future.

Even more to the point of preference assembly, if a customer had a positive experience recently, and that memory is still fresh, then this will have a stronger impact on preference in the moment.


The term “defaults” refers to pre-selected options that guide or streamline the decision-making process. 

How Defaults Affect Preference Assembly and Plausible Paths:

Defaults act as mental shortcuts, often aligning with the plausible paths that our brains are wired to follow. They influence how we assemble our preferences by guiding us towards certain options over others.

Like, for example, when the default option for whether you want to sign up for your company’s retirement fund, or whether you want to be an organ donor, is already set. Believe it or not, this has a big impact on what we choose.

Choice Order

“Choice order” refers to the sequence or arrangement in which options are presented to consumers.

How the Order of Choices Affects Preference Assembly and Plausible Paths:

Psychological phenomena like the “primacy and recency effects” indicate that items appearing at the beginning or end of a list are more likely to be remembered and, therefore, chosen.

This is particularly true when dealing with long lists or lots of information. 

Presenting Options

In the context of choice, “options” refer to the different alternatives presented for selection.

How Presenting Options Can Affect Preference Assembly and Plausible Paths:

The number and type of options can either simplify or complicate the decision-making process. Too many options can lead to “choice overload,” while too few can make the decision-making process too simplistic.

Choice Architecture

“Choice architecture” refers to the design and layout in which choices are presented to consumers.

How Choice Architects Sway Decision Making Without Our Knowledge:

Marketers, business owners, and advertisers serve as choice architects by using subtle cues, arrangements, and other elements to guide consumer decision-making, often without the consumer even realizing it.

Now that we all have a pretty good idea of how our customers make purchase decisions, let’s talk about how Amazon’s structure and layout impacts that.

How Choice Architecture On Amazon Impacts Choices (or, in other words, how Amazon influences purchase decisions)

How Rank Sorting on Amazon’s Search Page Impacts Preference and Choice:

The order in which your product detail page appears in Amazon search results can have a significant impact on its likelihood of being clicked and ultimately purchased (duh). Let’s look at exactly how powerful this concept is:

Plausible Paths

People often follow a path of least resistance or effort when making choices. If your product appears on the first page of Amazon search results, it is part of the “plausible path” for most customers. Being on subsequent pages significantly reduces the likelihood of your product being considered, as many users do not go beyond the first page of search results.

*As the adage says; where’s the best place to hide a body? On the second page of Amazon.

Preference Assembly

Customers often assemble their preferences on-the-fly based on the options presented. The higher your product ranks, the more likely it will be part of this preference assembly process. If it’s out of sight, it’s often out of mind, and therefore not part of the customer’s assembled preferences.

There’s a lot going on at this stage; how your branding and color scheme may impact memory, how similar you are to other brands or products the customer may have had a good or bad experience with in the past, how the wording in the reviews affects their memory of past experiences, etc. But, without being seen, none of this mental effort can happen.

Choice Architecture

Amazon’s search results page is a form of choice architecture. The layout, including how many items are displayed per page and the information shown for each product (price, ratings, Prime eligibility, etc.), guides users’ decisions. Your product’s position within this architecture can either make it a focal point or relegate it to the background.

Decisions by Default

Defaults are powerful influencers of choice. In the context of Amazon, the default setting is to show products based on their relevance to the search query, which is influenced by a variety of factors such as customer behavior, item relevance, and other factors. If your product is part of this default setting by ranking high, it has a higher likelihood of being chosen.

Other Psychological Triggers at Play in the Amazon Buying Experience:

Aside from the aforementioned elements, other psychological triggers like limited-time offers, recommendations, and free shipping can also significantly influence consumer behavior.

In themselves these are psychological triggers, signaling ideas like “endorsement” or “scarcity.”

Limited-Time Offers

Time-sensitive offers, like flash sales, create a sense of urgency, guiding the customer’s plausible path towards making quicker decisions.

Recommendations and ‘Customers Also Bought’

Features like these expand the customer’s plausible paths by showing them additional options, often based on their browsing history or the buying behavior of similar customers.

The Effect of Badges (Bestseller, Amazon’s Choice, etc.) on Choice and Preference

Badges like “Bestseller” and “Amazon’s Choice” serve as quality indicators, providing quick, easily digestible pieces of information about a product’s popularity or quality.

Psychological Impact

  • These badges instill a sense of authority and trustworthiness around a product, making it a more attractive option on the customer’s “plausible path.”

Putting Things in Order (Order Sorting)

  • The psychology of “primacy and recency effects” suggests that items appearing at the beginning or end of a list are more likely to be remembered and chosen. In the case of Amazon, being among the first few products listed can significantly increase the chances of your product being clicked.

To sum it up, the order in which your product appears in Amazon search results acts as a powerful form of choice architecture that leverages psychological principles like plausible paths, preference assembly, and defaults to influence customer behavior. By understanding these concepts, you can better strategize on how to optimize your product’s placement on Amazon to increase clicks and conversions.

But…wow. Who would have thought so much psychology goes into how things are presented on Amazon? There are so many levers being pulled. The thing is, unfortunately for Amazon sellers, all those levers point customers at buying SOMETHING. But Amazon doesn’t necessarily care if they buy from YOU.

That means, you have to take matters into your own hands where you can, and pull your own levers.

How You Can Implement Choice Architecture to Get More Sales (or, in other words, how YOU can be a choice architect on Amazon)

The Effect of the Main Image and Other Images on Choice and Preference:

Images serve as the initial visual contact point between the customer and the product. In a medium where the customer can’t physically touch or try the product before buying, images bridge the sensory gap.

Psychological Impact

  • High-quality, visually appealing images can grab the customer’s attention almost instantaneously. They play an essential role in “preference assembly,” setting the stage for how the consumer views the product and its attributes.

Implications for Amazon Sellers

For Amazon sellers, the implication is clear: invest in multiple, high-quality images that showcase the product from various angles, in different settings, and possibly even in use. This not only provides a comprehensive view of what the customer can expect but also boosts credibility and trust.

This is the opportunity to also stand out. It could be as simple as having an image that faces the opposite direction of all other competitor main images. Or displaying target customer avatars where competitors do not.

Grab attention, fill in knowledge and sensory gaps, build trust (through the use of models that represent the target demographic), create positive associations (using vibrant or warm colors, images of happy people, beautiful scenery, etc), and you’ll be much more likely to trigger favorable preferences.

The Effect of Star-Rating and Reviews on Choice and Preference

Star-ratings and reviews function as powerful forms of social proof, offering prospective buyers insights into the experiences of others.

Psychological Impact

  • Positive ratings and reviews can serve as “defaults” that significantly influence preference assembly. In essence, they act as shortcuts in the decision-making process, reassuring customers about the quality and reliability of the product.

Implications for Amazon Sellers

  • The key takeaway for sellers is to focus on maintaining high-quality products and offering stellar customer service. This approach not only earns positive reviews but also improves product rankings, thereby increasing visibility and sales.

The Effect of Discounts and Coupons on Choice and Preference

Discounts and coupons play a substantial role in attracting price-sensitive buyers and encouraging impulse purchases.

Psychological Impact

  • Such promotions create a sense of urgency and perceived value, affecting both the plausible paths a customer may consider and how they assemble their preferences.

Implications for Amazon Sellers

  • Use discounts and coupons strategically to drive sales, particularly during seasonal or promotional periods. However, use them judiciously to avoid devaluing the brand or product.

Keeping discounts on year-round, for example, will create new defaults and associations with lower value.

All Other Aspects of the Product Detail Page


The product title is usually the first piece of text a customer encounters. It sets the initial tone for how the consumer perceives the product.

Psychological Impact

  • An optimized product title can quickly assemble customer preferences by being both descriptive and engaging. The title serves as a focal point in the “preference assembly” process.

This works in concert with the main image. The main image, the title, price, and star rating, all work together to quickly assist in preference assembly.

Actionable Tips

  • Focus on the benefits your product offers. Deliver those front-and-center. Use weighty, emotionally charged language where possible. The combination of a strong benefit and the main image will instantly place your product in a list of preference considerations for the right customers.

Product Features

Bullet points serve as a succinct summary of key product features, offering a quick overview for potential buyers.

Psychological Impact

  • Well-crafted bullet points can aid in preference assembly by providing quick, digestible information that highlights the product’s advantages. The structure of these bullet points can also impact what details are viewed and retained by shoppers.

Actionable Tips

  • Implement choice architecture here by using either all-caps or symbols (where allowed) to draw attention to the main benefit of a bullet point. Then elaborate on that point in a way that helps potential customers see how that benefit would positively impact their lives.

Also remember the sort order. Lead and end with your strongest benefits. The first bullet serves to leverage the primacy effect, signaling to the shopper what is the most important benefit your product offers. The last bullet serves to leverage the recency effect, sticking in the memory of the browsing shopper.

Product Description

The product description provides a comprehensive view of what the product offers, serving as an expanded narrative beyond the bullet points.

Psychological Impact

  • A well-written description can guide the customer’s plausible path by answering potential questions and alleviating concerns, thus influencing the decision-making process.

Actionable Tips

  • Utilize storytelling or problem-solving approaches to engage the reader. Highlight how the product solves a particular problem or enhances the user’s life.

This is the section where you really want to try to get the shopper to imagine themself using your product. By weaving in problem-solving into a story, readers will be engaged to focus on reading the whole description, and ideally walk away with a clear picture in their mind of what their life would look like using your product.

Product Videos

With the rise of video content, videos are becoming increasingly important in e-commerce settings. Among many benefits that Amazon offers to brands registered with its platform, video content on the listing may be the most valuable.

Psychological Impact

  • Videos offer a dynamic and immersive form of preference assembly by giving the customer a more in-depth look at the product’s features and benefits. Information is processed by the brain in varying degrees of complexity and mental effort; text requires the most effort, imagery takes far less effort but sends less information, and video requires minimal effort while maximizing information processing.

Actionable Tips

  • Take full advantage of any video real estate your listing may offer. Videos are your best chance at influencing plausible paths by sending rich signals to evoke emotions, positive memory retrieval, and building trust through familiarity.

Create videos that; showcase your product’s functionality, showcase the emotional impact it will have on customers, showcase the trust your product has garnered through credibility (if possible).

A Plus Content

A Plus content refers to enhanced brand content that provides additional information through visuals and text. This section is largely dedicated to sharing more detailed information about the brand as a whole, rather than the single product the listing offers.

Psychological Impact

  • The space definitely offers a place to enrich the mental perception that shoppers are building of your product, but when used to expand on the brand, its story, and its reason for offering the product, it can build trust. And trust, above all else, influences purchase decisions.

Actionable Tips

  • Utilize high-quality images, infographics, and detailed copy to maximize the impact of A Plus content. Use this space to answer common questions or explain complex features in an easy-to-understand manner.

But most importantly, weave in information about your brand, its origins, how it came to offer this product, and why the product is important to the brand’s catalog. This is also a great place to showcase social proof in the form of happy customers or customer avatars and their quotes and testimonials.

Back End Search Terms

Back end search terms are keywords that are not visible to customers but are used by Amazon’s algorithm to match your product with user queries. These help to improve relevance by offering you a place to put related but not obvious terms.

Psychological Impact

  • Including relevant back end search terms makes your product appear in more searches, thereby increasing its visibility and making it part of more plausible paths for customers.

Actionable Tips

  • Conduct thorough keyword research using tools and analytics to find the most effective search terms. Keep in mind Amazon’s guidelines on keyword stuffing and relevance.

Detail Page SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) within Amazon involves optimizing your product listing to appear higher in search results.

Psychological Impact

  • Effective SEO increases your product’s visibility, making it a ‘default’ choice for many buyers by virtue of its prominent placement.

Actionable Tips

  • Use long-tail keywords, optimize bullet points and product descriptions, and consider the growing trend of voice search when choosing keywords.

(For questions about A9, ranking, relevance, and keywords, be sure to visit the Signalytics A9 bot. This is the most advanced, well-informed, and downright smartest chatbot on the subject. PERIOD! Check it out 👉 https://ebooks.signalytics.ai/a9-bot)

Pay Per Click Advertising

PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising involves placing paid ads to drive targeted traffic to your listing. 

Psychological Impact

  • PPC can influence plausible paths by boosting the visibility of your product among targeted audiences. Due to Amazon’s choice architecture, we know that a lot of emphasis and prime placements are given to paid advertisements. This represents a significant opportunity for sellers.

Actionable Tips

  • Focus on keyword bidding, manage budgets effectively, and consider seasonal or event-based advertising to maximize ROI.

(Or, download our internal PPC S.O.P. and maximize your paid advertising potential 👉 https://ebooks.signalytics.ai/ppc-ai-sop)

Other Choice Architecture Options


Bundling involves offering multiple products together at a discounted rate.

Psychological Impact

  • Bundles simplify the decision-making process by offering a complete solution, thereby affecting preference assembly and plausible paths.

Actionable Tips

  • Choose products that complement each other well and offer genuine value to the customer when bundled.

Also consider decoy virtual bundles. These are high-value, high-priced bundles that grab attention, but ultimately may lead customers to choose a less expensive option.

A/B Testing

A/B testing allows you to compare two versions of a page or element to see which performs better.

Psychological Impact

  • It enables fine-tuning of various elements on your listing to better influence customer choices.

Actionable Tips

  • Consider testing different titles, images, or feature bullets to see what resonates most with your target audience. Utilize Amazon’s Manage Your Experiments tool available in Brand Analytics.

(Or, check out Signalytics’ software solution for Heatmapping and A/B Testing that uses A.I. to simulate human activity almost instantaneously. Learn more 👉 https://signalytics.ai/saas-services/)

Off-Amazon Actions to Enhance Choice Architecture

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO isn’t limited to Amazon’s ecosystem. Optimizing off-Amazon content like blog posts, YouTube videos, or social media can lead traffic to your Amazon detail pages. Organic outside traffic has also been shown to improve keyword relevance.

How It Works

  • By ranking high in search engine results for relevant queries, you create a seamless path that guides users directly to your Amazon product. This also gives you and your brand the unique opportunity to win a customer that may not have been actively seeking a solution at that moment (by already browsing Amazon options).

Actionable Tips

  • Focus on high-quality content and backlinks, and make sure to include direct links to your Amazon detail pages where appropriate.

Create blogs, videos, and social media posts that not only inform but also persuade. Use these platforms to address common questions or problems that your product solves.

A lot more can be said on this topic, but that would have to be another post. Suffice it to say that well-crafted content about your products and brand that drive people from websites and search engines to your Amazon listings will do good for your performance.

Influencer Partnerships

Partnering with trusted voices in your industry can give your product a significant credibility boost. It also allows you to get wider distribution by introducing your products to a new audience.

How It Works

  • Endorsements or reviews from influencers provide obvious plausible paths for their followers. The trust and credibility of the influencer makes it an easy choice for their followers, since the vetting of your product has already been done.

Actionable Tips

  • Choose influencers whose audience aligns with your target demographic. Ensure that their presentation of your product is genuine and relatable.

Set up promotions, on-going campaigns, and other scenarios that maximize the reach of the influencer and the distribution of your product offer. Be sure to allow the influencer to be genuine, but to also control how your product is presented so as to maintain influence over associations and preferences.

Choice Architecture in Marketing

Landing Pages

Custom landing pages can serve as a funnel that guides potential customers to your Amazon product.

How It Works

  • These pages are designed to lead the customer through a series of choices, pre-framing their decision-making process before they get to Amazon.

Actionable Tips

Landing pages should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and include strong calls to action that direct visitors to your Amazon product page.

They should also leverage strong copywriting frameworks and psychological triggers to continue to influence their plausible paths and preference assembly.

Email Marketing

Well-designed email sequences can serve as a decision-making guide for potential customers.

How It Works

  • When you’ve built an email list for your brand, you have an open channel of communication with current and future customers.

Each email in the sequence offers the recipient the choice to click through to your Amazon product page, providing multiple touchpoints to shape their decision.

Actionable Tips

  • Include compelling content and clear calls to action in your emails. Use analytics to determine the best timing and frequency for sending emails. Split test subject lines to improve open-rates, and double-send campaigns to subscribers who didn’t open the first email.

Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads serve to remind potential customers of your product after they’ve left your Amazon page or related content.

How It Works

  • By constantly being in their line of sight through ads, your product becomes the ‘default’ option they think about when considering a purchase. This is a strong method of creating mental associations and providing a direct plausible path to your product.

Actionable Tips

  • Utilize Amazon DSP and retargeting campaigns to bring people back to your listing.

(Check out this amazing case study we did using DSP where we achieved an 80x ROAS using retargeting 👉 https://signalytics.ai/maximize-roas-thinking-outside-data/)

Community Building

Establishing a loyal community on platforms relevant to your niche can serve as a default audience more likely to choose your products on Amazon.

How It Works

  • By building a community of like-minded individuals in your niche, you create an environment where your products are obvious plausible paths to solutions for shared challenges.

Actionable Tips

  • Figure out where your customers feel the most comfortable communicating and build a community there. This may be a Discord server, Telegram, a Facebook group, or even a custom membership area on your site.

Make the group centered around your niche and provide content and resources of value. This will build trust and make your brand’s products default choices when members seek solutions to their problems.

And that’s a wrap. Hopefully this was an insightful resource for Amazon sellers to understand the minds of their buyers, as well as how to influence those minds to choose their products over competitors.

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