Ever wondered how retailers make their decisions on what to sell? Sometimes it’s the result of savvy professional buyers capitalizing on trends, occasionally it’s down to good luck, but more often than not its based on data i.e. if sales are growing, then let’s do more of the same.

Nothing wrong with the latter principle, but wouldn’t it be better if this process was more transparent and consumers could play a more proactive role? Music has followed this model for a long
time by publishing charts of the highest sellers.

Perhaps Amazon should follow the music industry model. For example, they could enable customers to search for sales variances for any given product (e.g. +/- QoQ & YoY). This data could be presented within comparisons of competing or complementary products.

Amazon wouldn’t need to upset individual sellers as they could aggregate theirs and marketplace sellers’ sales data. Customers could then weigh in with product specific (as opposed to seller centric) reviews.

By comparing sales variances alongside product reviews customers would make better decisions and the process of product winners and losers becomes more democratic. Right now, customers can be fooled into thinking they are buying a good product solely on the basis of seller reviews. In reality this product could be end of the line or unsold inventory.

For sellers who focus on re-selling overstocks this may be detrimental in the short term. Nevertheless, as customers become more informed they may choose not to pay the premium for the latest product and opt for end of line as part of a general strategy of prudential purchasing.

Above all, by giving customers more information Amazon get a step nearer to the concept of perfect competition. That can only be a good thing.