With more than 40% of all online sales taking place via Amazon, the world’s largest eCommerce website is an essential marketplace for online retailers. Your success on the site, however, depends on winning the Amazon Buy Box, which is where over 85% of all sales take place. To do that, you need to know what it is, and understand how Amazon decides which products feature in it.
What is the Amazon Buy Box and why is it important?
The Buy Box is the white box found on the right-hand side of an Amazon product page that enables buyers to add items to their shopping cart or to use one-click ordering. The product that wins the Buy Box is the default choice when a user clicks ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now.’
It is very important for sellers to ensure their products win the Buy Box as often as possible, as it greatly increases their chances of a sale. Only 15% of sales go to sellers outside the Buy Box – the equivalent of your website ranking on page two of Google.
Understanding how Amazon decides which products get the Buy Box is vital (more of this later…)
How Amazon determines the Buy Box winner at a glance
- Items featured in the Buy Box aren’t fixed. Amazon decides which products feature based on data from items offered by eligible sellers and its own products.
- Selling at the lowest price on Amazon doesn’t guarantee space in the Buy Box. However, price is an important factor that Amazon’s algorithm uses to make its decision.
- Item location is also considered, along with various aspects of seller performance including feedback rating, feedback count and inventory management.
- The main Buy Box is only for items in new condition.
How to be Buy Box eligible
Not all Amazon sellers are eligible to have their products featured in the Buy Box. To be Buy Box eligible, certain criteria must be met:
- You must be a professional Amazon seller (individual or basic sellers do not qualify.)
- You must be selling a new item which is currently in stock.
- You must have been trading on Amazon for a minimum of 6 months, unless you are part of Amazon’s drop shipping program (‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ or ‘FBA.’)
How do you check if you’re already Buy Box eligible?
- Head to the ‘Inventory’ tab in Seller Central and select ‘Manage Inventory.’
- Then select the ‘Preferences’ tab.
- Within the ‘Column Display’ section find the ‘Buy Box eligible’ tab.
- Select ‘Show When Available’ within the drop-down menu.
- Look at the Buy Box eligible column and you’ll see a ‘yes’ if you currently qualify.
It’s important to remember that you may qualify for the Buy Box with some of your items and not others, and being in the running doesn’t necessarily mean your products will be awarded Buy Box space.
Understanding Amazon’s algorithms
Amazon operates its product listings like a search engine and, like all search engines, it wants to provide users with relevant results. Like Google, Amazon’s Buy Box algorithm has created huge competition among seller vying for a piece of prime e-commerce real estate.
If Amazon offered the Buy Box as a paid advertising option regardless of performance or price, this could result in negative customer experiences and loss of revenue. By developing a Buy Box formula (or algorithm), Amazon has ensured that only its most trusted and competitive sellers win the space – resulting in the best quality customer experiences.
As with search engine algorithms, we know that Amazon takes several factors into consideration when deciding who makes the grade – including pricing, seller feedback rating, shipping time, stock availability and whether a seller is part of the site’s FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) program.
Pricing – why cheaper isn’t always better
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding Amazon’s Buy Box is that the seller with the lowest price always makes the grade. It’s true that price is vital in a marketplace as competitive as Amazon, and you will need automatic repricing software in order to stay ahead of the fluctuating prices and stock levels of your competitors. But price is just one of the factors that influence who gets the Buy Box – and setting yours at rock bottom across the board may actually hamper your chances of winning space, with Amazon potentially viewing your products as inferior quality.
What is an Amazon repricer and how can it help you win the Buy Box?
Repricing is an automated process that helps third-party sellers win a share of the Amazon Buy Box by ensuring their prices remain competitive at all times.
Optimizing your prices with a high quality Amazon repricer is the best approach to be in with a chance of consistently winning the Buy Box with the highest margin possible.
Repricer.com is unique in its ability to price both up and down, based on your seller metrics. If you have great feedback and ratings along with a solid reputation for fast dispatch and delivery, you can afford to price an item higher than competitors who don’t perform as well, all while still being in with a chance of winning the Buy Box.
As we know, it’s a myth that having the lowest priced item is the single most
significant factor to get the Buy Box. Instead, it’s a careful balancing act
involving multiple factors that automatic repricing software can manage
for you in seconds – saving you both time, money and headaches.
What is the fastest Amazon repricer and why is speed important?
Speed is a crucial factor that contributes to the effectiveness of Amazon pricing software. The quicker you can respond to changes in the competitive environment, the more time your products will spend in the Buy Box. Repricer.com is the fastest Amazon repricer, reacting to changes in the competitive environment every 90 seconds.
Our software is notified by Amazon each time one of your competitors make a change to an item’s price, or it goes out of stock. The repricer will instantly create a new price for this item for you, using pre-determined criteria within your minimum and maximum range, so your product is eligible to win the Buy Box at the optimal price.
Changes will automatically be applied to your product sales page once the necessary checks have been made by Amazon, ensuring that your prices remain constantly competitive (the process taking less than 100 seconds, so you won’t miss out due to a price adjustment by a rival seller.)
Excellent feedback is key
Your Amazon feedback rating, displayed in Seller Central, is the combined total of all feedback scores you’ve received over the last 30, 90 and 365 days, with the most recent comments and ratings having the biggest impact.
Amazon’s policy is to always put the customer first, so they take what’s said about your products and services very seriously. If most of your transactions have resulted in positive feedback, Amazon will be much more inclined to give you the Buy Box. This is particularly important in 2019, and sellers must strive to keep their Order Defect Rate (ODR) under 1%.
As AMZ Advisors explain, “Maintaining a high seller feedback score and increasing the amount of positive seller feedback ratings you have is vital for more than just winning the buy box. Our early research shows that Amazon may actually throttle visibility and sales if you do not have enough feedback or a high enough score. Negative feedback needs to be removed with in 90 days and you should constantly be following up with customers to increase your total feedback quantity.”
Achieving excellent feedback requires a variety of elements, including speed in responding to messages (Amazon state replies should be received in less than 24 hours), taking steps to avoid potential problems (particularly by setting customer expectations through the product listing), always shipping items within specified limits and operating a solid refund and return policy that puts the buyer’s interests at its heart.
Staying on top of customer interactions and improving feedback can be tricky! Find out how you can improve your Amazon feedback here.
Amazon inventory and shipping
Amazon are more likely to include your items in the Buy Box if you have consistently proved that you can manage your inventory successfully, dealing with the kind of high-volume sales inclusion that the Buy Box is likely to generate.
Sellers with a large inventory, consistent sales record and who rarely have items out of stock are more likely to be given a high Buy Box share. If you often run out of stock, your chances of being selected are almost non-existent. It’s also essential to manually keep your inventory up to date to avoid customers being disappointed by finding an item is out of stock at point of sale. If this happens regularly, your Amazon seller metrics will suffer and your chance of winning the Buy Box will drop.
Amazon will also take your late shipment rate into consideration (this is the percentage of orders that are sent later than the expected shipping date, which can be altered in seller central, with the default shipping time being 1-2 business days.) A late shipment rate below 4% will help keep you in the running for a share of the Buy Box.
It’s also important that your items are delivered on time, reaching buyers on or before the estimated delivery date. You should aim for a delivered-on-time rate of 97% or higher, as this will put you in a favorable light when Amazon makes its selections.
FBA vs FBM
Amazon offers two different ways to sell on the site, FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) and FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant, also known as MFN or the Amazon Merchant Fulfilled Network.)
‘FBA’ means ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ – you sell a product and Amazon ships it to the customer on your behalf. To service this process, you need to send products in bulk to one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, ready for picking, packing and shipping once products have been sold through the site.
‘FBM’ means ‘Fulfilled by Merchant’ – you list and sell products on Amazon while handing storage, picking, packing and shipping yourself, managing the entire sales process from start to finish.
Arguably the biggest influencer in winning the Buy Box is using FBA. By letting Amazon handle the dispatch of your items and the customer service, you’re offering your customers the world class customer service of Amazon, meaning that your seller performance scores will be much higher than those managed by third-party sellers.
Though being part of the FBA program doesn’t guarantee you the Buy Box, it has hugely positive benefits that contribute to being a more competitive seller, which are taken into consideration by Amazon’s algorithms.
Using the FBA approach also allows you to bypass the usual need to have been trading for at least 2-6 months before becoming eligible for Buy Box inclusion.
An FBM approach also has key advantages which are worth considering:
- You have more control over your inventory and can access it at any time.
- You do not have to pay fees to Amazon for handling your shipping (these are based on the size of the item, so you’ll miss out the most if you’re selling large item with small profit margins.)
- Bigger discounts on shipping and supplies can be enjoyed by sellers independent of the Amazon platform.
Drop shipping niches – selling the right product
Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) is Amazon’s drop shipping program, allowing third-party sellers to ship their products direct to Amazon warehouses which handle inventory and shipping.
Choosing the right product niche is important for drop shippers whose main aim should be to win the Buy Box (remember that 85% of sales are made on the site through this function).
When deciding what to sell, it’s worth remembering that certain categories require pre-authorization by Amazon, including:
- Automotive and Powersports
- Clothing and accessories
- Collectible books and coins
- Entertainment collectibles
- Fine art
- Gift cards
- Grocery and gourmet foods
- Health and personal care
- Independent design
- Luggage and travel accessories
- Major appliances
- Sexual wellness
- Shoes, handbags and sunglasses
- Sports collectibles
- Textbook rentals
Sales within other categories are not placed under such restrictions, with sellers able to begin trading immediately and without authorization. These include:
- Baby products
- Computer and video games
- Home, kitchen and garden
- Music and musical instruments
- Office products
- Pet supplies
- Sporting goods
- Tools and hardware
- Toys and games
- Videos and DVDs
As Amazon’s fee program for drop shipping is based on the size of items, you should aim to find products to sell that are small and light to post with a good profit margin.
There is no one trick to guarantee your products win the Buy Box, with success depending on a complex web of metrics to be monitored and improved upon. Understanding and satisfying an algorithm is a marathon not a sprint, but if you concentrate on the most important variables listed in this article, and utilize the best Amazon seller tools like Repricer.com, you will have the best chance of achieving Buy Box success.