Amazon is testing a 'New' badge to highlight newly released products

Key Points
  • Amazon is testing a "new" badge that highlights newly released products.
  • It's Amazon’s latest attempt at labeling products to help shoppers decide what to buy.
  • It’s still unclear what criteria is used for the badges on Amazon, which give sellers a significant advantage on the marketplace.

Amazon has a new way of highlighting newly released products: a "New" badge.

The badge is Amazon's latest attempt at labeling products to help shoppers decide what to buy. Other badges include "Top Brand," which Amazon has been testing recently for certain products launched by more established brands. It's also been labeling some products "best sellers" and "Amazon's Choice," based on a number of factors, including customer reviews and pricing.

If successful, the new badge could help Amazon improve the shopping experience on its site. Amazon is known for its vast selection of products and convenient ordering process, but is often called out for its poor navigation tools that make it difficult for shoppers to discover things they didn't know they wanted to buy.

The badge could also draw attention to how Amazon determines which products get certain designations on the site. Given the wide range of products sold on Amazon, any badge that distinguishes a product could serve as a significant advantage to the sellers and brands on its marketplace.

It's unclear what criteria are used for the "New" badge, according to multiple sellers who spoke to CNBC. But a search by CNBC showed that the program is being tested sporadically -- sometimes the same product may or may not have the label, depending on the browser being used.

Amazon's spokesperson confirmed the program's existence, saying it recently started testing the new badge in "select markets for certain customers." It declined to share more details on how exactly the badge works.

"We are always experimenting to provide a better shopping experience for customers," Amazon's spokesperson said in an email statement.

Some lawmakers are taking issue with Amazon's opaque policy around its badges. Last month, two high-profile Senate Democrats, Sen. Bob Menendez and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, demanding more clarity on the Amazon's Choice program, citing recent reports that questioned how the recommendation engine works and why it's endorsing products of poor quality.

Amazon accounts for roughly 40% of all e-commerce sales in the U.S, according to eMarketer. The rapid growth of its third-party marketplace, however, has attracted sellers of counterfeit and unsafe products in recent years, drawing a series of complaints and reports about the company's loose quality control measures. Last month, for example, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon sold thousands of unsafe products that failed to meet safety compliance standards.

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