Amazon Experiments with Displaying Star Ratings for Books and Products

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tl;dr: In this post, Mark examines Amazon's experimental approach to displaying star ratings for books and products. He explores the implications of such changes for consumers, authors, and sellers, weighing the potential benefits and drawbacks. Mark also discusses how this experiment aligns with Lean principles of continuous improvement and customer focus.

It's interesting to see Amazon experiment with different ways of summarizing and visualizing reviews, average ratings, and the distribution of the ratings — including those for my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation.

I see two different experiments right now, and those are maybe only seen by some users. One is in my Mac's Chrome browser and the other in the Amazon iPhone app.

I'm unsure if I like either of those experiments better than the “traditional” way, either for my own books or for other products I'm considering for purchase.

What problem is Amazon trying to solve, other than optimizing things to get more clicks and more purchases?

The traditional way shows five stars that are filled in, or are partially filled in, to represent the score out of 5.

In the desktop browser experiment, it shows just a single star, with the average rating (4.8) next to it. Clicking through to the item shows the more traditional view of the ratings.

In the iOS app, they are experimenting with showing the 4.8 with a single star and, in parentheses, “84% 5-star.”

There's a new experiment I noticed where they display the percentage of ratings that are 4- or 5-star (95% for my book so far):

What do you prefer? What are your thoughts on this?

If you were Amazon, how would you evaluate the outcomes of these different experiments? Click through rates? Purchase rates?


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Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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