Have you thought about how to master the Amazon Buy Box? It’s an important part of success for Amazon sellers yet many aren’t sure what it is, how it works, or how to capitalize on it.
Let’s start with some basics. On Amazon, there are two types of sellers. The first is Amazon itself. It has its own line of products and contractors with manufacturers to list and sell products under its own name. Second, you have third-party sellers. These tend to be specialized sellers who list products on the site to sell either that they’ve made themselves or that they are distributing.
Here’s what’s important to know: when the time comes for a purchase to happen, the one that owns the Buy Box is the one that gets the sale.
The Buy Box is the white box that’s located on the listing page. It is on the right side of the page and lets the customer add items to their purchase. You want to be the one that gets the sale when the “add to cart” button is pressed.
However, not all sellers are able to win the Buy Box and because there is a lot of competition from sellers, it’s essential to do what you can to ensure you’re getting it.
How to Win the Buy Box on Amazon
You can see how important it is, but how do you win the Buy Box on Amazon?
The Buy Box influences your Amazon sales. When a merchant clicks on that box, they are buying from one person – and that’s what we call the winner of the buy box. Only one can win it. The key is that you have to be eligible to win the Buy Box and that’s not as simple as it may sound.
You must be a subscription-based Professional Seller who meets the Buy Box criteria. You must have products that are considered Buy Box eligible.
Factors that play a role in this are your order defect rate, length of time on the site as a seller, performance metrics, and the customer service quality you provide.
How does Amazon choose who is going to be the Buy Box winner? They use a variety of factors to make this decision including things like fulfillment and seller rating. Because this is an automated process governed by always-changing metrics, many factors can play a role in who wins the Buy Box for any one purchase. The Amazon Buy Box algorithm is always in flux to ensure the customer gets the very best experience when buying.
Why You Need the Buy Box
Let’s be clear here. If you cannot get into the Buy Box – or do so frequently enough – that’s going to impact your sales on Amazon. It is going to make it harder for you to be profitable on the site.
More so, you want to let your customers enjoy the ability to make an instant purchase from you. Today’s buyers want a fast and easy way to buy – and they may not go through multiple steps to find out how to do this outside of the Buy Box.
Why the Buy Box is Worth Your Time and Attention – Understand the Competitive Advantages
There are several key reasons why the Amazon Buy Box is such a valuable tool and there’s a reason why people are so competitive about getting the Buy Box.
It builds your brand’s visibility as well. Everything you do on Amazon should be tailored to building your brand so that next time a customer needs to buy something you’re offering, they remember your brand, not just the product.
Don’t overlook the value of the Buy Box. It takes a lot of work to be the top-notch seller on Amazon to get here, but it is well worth it!
Let’s Dive Into How the Amazon Buy Box Really Works
It’s often said that a seller “wins the Buy Box.” What is a bit more accurate is to say that the seller wins a share of the Buy Box. Here’s why:
The first step is to meet the eligibility requirements that Amazon sets which we’ve already covered. The Amazon Buy Box algorithm then goes to work to determine which sellers should have access. Amazon compares one seller against the other to determine which one is the best choice for the product.
Sometimes, if you have a product that’s very popular with sellers, you may get a share of the Buy Box. In other words, you may rotate with other viable sellers for that spot. When one seller is the stronger option, that seller is going to see higher access to the Buy Box.
What’s Amazon After?
Amazon’s goal is always customer-focused. The company’s ultimate desire is to give the customer the best experience possible because that’s what has built this company from the ground up – delivering customer expectations. If a seller has higher metrics like sales, feedback rating, and overall account health, that seller gains better access to customers.
Amazon often does this by considering customer service and prices to ensure the customer is getting the most value for their investment. They weigh both low prices and higher seller metrics to reach this point.
This means you don’t always have to have the lowest price – especially if you have top seller metrics.
As noted earlier, Amazon is one of the companies you’re competing against for the Buy Box. You may think that Amazon should have pretty perfect metrics for itself. In that case, the best way to compete against the big guy is to also have high metrics and a competitive price. At the very least, you should have some access to a percentage of the Buy Box.
The 4 big things you have to meet to be eligible include:
- A professional sellers account
- Buy Box eligibility status (the Amazon Seller Central dashboard will tell you this)
- New items (used items do not qualify in most cases)
- Product availability
What We Know About the Amazon Buy Box Algorithm
Like Google, Amazon isn’t going to tell you all of the secrets to its algorithm to prevent people from gaming the system. That being said, there is a great deal we do know which can help you understand what the Buy Box means to your company and how to achieve your goals on Amazon.
What are the factors that affect your Buy Box eligibility the most?
You need to choose the right fulfillment method. As an Amazon Seller, you have ample options on how you are going to fill your orders and get them to customers. If you are not using Amazon Fulfilment services (FBA), then you’re going to find it takes more time before your products are going to hit the Buy Box.
The problem with this is that Amazon does not have any ability to actually know if you have a product available or if you can fill product orders once there is a purchase. Because of this, getting the Buy Box is harder.
However, if you do have FBA, you will win the Buy Box more readily because Amazon is able to track what’s available for products at any given time – it is their own system after all. Here’s the key to remember: in most situations when you are selling with FBA, you will win the Buy Box over another product being sold by the merchant (FBM). This gives you a key advantage if you make the switch to FBA.
Switching to FBA means that Amazon is going to warehouse, pick, and ship your products for you. They control your inventory more effectively and they also are then able to control the quality and the delivery process.
Now, let’s consider the secondary big factor – pricing.
Your goal here is to make sure your product’s landing price is the most affordable it can be. That’s not to say that you have to undercut your business by listing products that are not profitable to you.
The landing price on Amazon is the total price the product sells for. It should include all shipping and handling costs as well as the product’s purchase price. The lower this price is, the more likely you are to hit the Buy Box with success.
It’s always the case that companies need to keep their prices on Amazon pretty competitive with other merchants on the site. You also need to know what price Amazon is selling their products for if they are your direct competitor as well.
Amazon sellers are always changing their prices to ensure they are remaining competitive with other merchants. You’ll need to make this one of your strategies, especially if you are a newer seller. There are tools available to help you test different price points as well.
Remember not to undercut your prices. You have to determine what’s affordable to you and that’s more than just the product’s manufacturing and distribution costs. You also have to factor in Amazon seller fees, return costs, shipping costs, and so on. Do this now. You need to know what your bottom price point is and make sure you don’t go below that.
Next, learn how to get the Amazon Buy Box sales you need by maintaining a healthy account.
How can you build your Amazon account health? The truth is you have to do a great job to impress your customers and Amazon at the same time. To keep a healthy account, you don’t want to see a lot of late shipped items or deal with a lot of returns. Being a good seller matters here.
Sell quality products. Get them to the customer when you say you are going to. Answer with questions, learn from mistakes, and keep building positive reviews. Amazon specifically desires having reliable sellers. Emulate Amazon’s customer service and performance within your own business to achieve this.
The key here is to keep your order defect rate low – it should be about one percent. This is calculated based on factors such as:
- Negative feedback
- Number of filed A to Z claims
- Service chargeback rates
Also, work to keep your return dissatisfaction rate no higher than 10 percent. This is impacted by late responses, invalid rejections, and negative return feedback.
You’ll also need to aim for other factors such as your buyer-seller contact metrics (how often you respond to your customers and how fast), your recent customer metrics such as refund rates, and valid tracking rates (ensuring you’re on time!).
Again, the bottom line is simple. Deliver flawless service as often as you can.
Work to Speed Up Shipping
If you plan to remain FBM, then shipping becomes a big factor for you to win the Amazon Buy Box. Amazon considers how well you are hitting shipping metrics based on your projected ship time and your actual ship time. Don’t over-promise; it never works out.
If the items are perishable or time-sensitive, the shipping tracking will vary. However, Amazon wants items in customers’ hands as soon as possible. Generally, that means within 2 days. Other acceptable time frames could be 3 to 7 days, 8 to 13 days, or over 14 days depending on the product category.
A lot of this comes from what Amazon has built in terms of its customer expectations. Amazon’s customers want cheap or free shipping. They also expect it to arrive on their doorstep in days.
Improve Your Seller Feedback Score
Amazon is constantly working to update your Seller Feedback score based on the reviews you receive from your buyers. Seller feedback ratings are gold. The feedback rating Amazon uses to determine who wins the Buy Box is specifically related to your ratings from the last 365 days with the last 90 days receiving a weighted average.
To clarify: we are talking about your Amazon Seller Feedback, not product reviews. These are two different things on Amazon. Your seller feedback is specifically related to how well you do as a seller. However, some customers will leave product reviews here, which can hurt you if there’s a problem.
How can you improve your feedback rating?
- Always respond to all messages you receive from your customers within a goal time frame of 24 hours. Never have them wait.
- Respond to all comments that are made on your product listing page – even if they are small or simple comments from customers like “this is great.”
- Always respond to all questions consumers ask about your product – that’s just good business and it shows you’re an active seller on the site. It can also help clarify features of your product and mitigate returns or bad reviews.
Keep Your Products In Stock and Ready to Go
What are Buy Box wins on Amazon? It’s simply the seller who can meet the customer’s needs more readily. A component of that is having inventory of a product to send, of course.
If you have just a few items in inventory to sell and your competitor has 20 of them, Amazon gives the Buy Box to the other person. That’s going to make it more likely the customer gets the product they want and there’s isn’t a problem with running out of stock.
Maintaining product stock helps to influence your Buy Box winnings. If you are using FBM, ensure you have some type of inventory management tool in place and fulfillment set up to ensure your products are always in stock. Do this for as much of your inventory as you can.
Keep in mind that running out of product – and promising it to a seller – is a big red flag to Amazon.
If you are using FBA, your inventory is based on Amazon’s warehouse stock, no matter what you have in your own warehouse. For that reason, you need to ensure you are processing fulfillment requests and keeping the right amount of inventory in your Amazon warehouse.
Set Up Your MSRP for Each Product
Make sure to fill in the MSRP for each of your products on Amazon. This is the list price that shows on the front end of Amazon. When it is presented with a line through it, it makes buyers think your product is on sale. It’s a simple and easy way to make your product quite attractive to buyers.
It’s important to set this up in your Amazon Seller Central account if you haven’t done so already.
How to Stop Buy Box Hijacking
Are you selling private label products on Amazon? If so, it makes sense that you should be the only one selling it and therefore win the Buy Box. You may find that you’re suddenly not the only one.
It’s hard work to develop a brand that gets the attention of buyers. When someone steals it – what we call hijacking – you have every right to be upset about this.
Hijackers are a threat to marketplace sellers on all eCommerce sites, including Amazon. Most of the time, these are scammers using bots. They can try to steal the Buy Box from you by selling counterfeit goods at a lower price than you are selling your products for – remember that could get them access to the Buy Box.
There are several ways that these hijackers can cause problems for you. Some will create product listings that are just like your own, but the seller name is different and the price is generally lower. These sellers want to win over customers, but they tend to have lower operational costs.
Another way they do this is by ripping off your brand name and product images – posing as you – but selling counterfeit and potentially lower-quality products. If you think this is something that only happens to big brands, that’s not the case.
A third option for attacking you is by sabotaging your listing. They may do this by changing descriptions, images, or categories to make it hard for your customers to find you.
What can you do about this? There are a few simple steps that can make a big difference to you in minimizing the risk of hijackers:
- Register your brand on Amazon. Amazon Brand Registry is easy enough to use and provides a very safe way for you to establish your brand on the site.
- Make sure your products show your company’s trademark and logos on the images. It’s much harder to steal images if someone else’s brand name is on them!
- Monitor your product listings on a consistent basis. Make sure you’re looking at this from the customer’s perspective, not just through your dashboard. That way, you can spot problems if they occur.
If you find yourself facing a hijacker, get Amazon involved in the process. Amazon is vigilant about this and though it may take some time, they are likely to get to the bottom of it. You may also write a cease-and-desist letter to help you to convince them to take action to remove the counterfeit listing.
Are You Ready to Get Started?
If you want to find yourself building a strong brand on Amazon with consistent sales, you need to know how to win the Buy Box. These tips and strategies are sure to help, but don’t overlook your ability to reach out to our team at Nuanced Media for the support you need.
Buy Box FAQ
What is the Amazon Buy Box?
The Buy Box is the “Add to Cart” button area on Amazon that allows you to win the sale unless the buyer chooses another seller to do so.
What is winning the Buy Box on Amazon going to do for you?
It helps you increase your sales on the site, can help with building your brand on the site, and aids in improving product visibility.
What do I need to do to win the Amazon Buy Box?
The Amazon Buy Box algorithm focuses on providing high-quality service. This means shipping products on time, providing exceptional service to your customers, and ensuring you have a competitive price point for your product.
Should I choose FBA or FBM if I want to win the Buy Box?
The bottom line is simple: FBA sellers tend to win the Buy Box more often because Amazon knows what’s in stock and ready to go.
Ryan Flannagan is the Founder & CEO of Nuanced Media, an international eCommerce marketing agency specializing in Amazon. Nuanced has sold $100s of Millions online and Ryan has built a client base representing a total revenue of over 1.5 billion dollars. Ryan is a published author and has been quoted by a number of media sources such as BuzzFeed, CNBC, and Modern Retail.