Winning the Amazon Buy Box is arguably one of the best ways to increase your sales on Amazon, for the simple reason that it has the potential to significantly boost exposure of your products.
But what exactly is the Amazon Buy Box? And what do you need to do to win it?
While the algorithm behind the Buy Box remains a closely guarded secret, we’ve done our best to outline some of the factors that certainly influence your chance of being selected, along with some proven tips and best practices that you can start implementing straight away.
The Amazon Buy Box refers to the white box on the right-hand side of an Amazon product page.
It gives buyers the option to click the “Add to Basket” button (or “Add to Cart” on Amazon.com) and be taken through to checkout where they can complete the purchase.
Here’s the thing.
Unless you’re a private label seller, it’s likely that you will be selling the same product as numerous other Amazon sellers and as such, competing for the same sale.
The problem is, only one of these sellers will win the Buy Box and secure premium placement for their product.
In other words, that seller’s item will be the default item listed on the product page.
Other Amazon merchants selling the same product will either be listed in the “Other Sellers on Amazon” box below or on a separate page, accessible only by clicking the “used & new” link below.
That’s not all though.
While it’s obvious that the chance of securing a sale decreases the further down that list you fall, what you may not be aware of is that 82% of sales do in fact go through the Buy Box.
This is even higher on mobile.
So, if you needed a reason why you should be optimizing your listings to increase your chances of winning it, that’s a pretty big one.
Now that we’ve covered the reason why it’s so important to beat the competition and secure that prime Amazon position, the next question to address is how.
So, the million-dollar question (or £149.99 question if you’re selling a FitBit Alta HR Fitness Wristband) – how to win the Buy Box on Amazon?
Before anything else, it’s worth defining what ‘winning the buy box’ actually means.
In reality, eligible merchants win (or lose) a share of the Buy Box, as opposed to winning placement for the foreseeable future.
What this essentially means is that Amazon often rotates it between a few sellers. How long each seller holds it for is dependent on a whole host of factors which we’ll get to in a moment.
This won’t always be an even number and a higher-ranking seller could hold that top spot for a longer time frame than someone who ranks lower.
Ultimately, the percentage share comes down to how many eligible sellers there are.
Let’s say there are five sellers all with an equally high seller performance competing for the Buy Box, then Amazon might award each with a 20% share.
Alternatively (and perhaps more likely), a higher performing merchant could have 70% of the Buy Box, whereas the remaining 30% could be split between two slightly lower performing Amazon sellers.
So, the focus shouldn’t just be on winning the Buy Box, but instead winning a share of the Buy Box.
But what’s the secret to getting your share?
Ultimately, Amazon cares about value, which is why the Buy Box winners are typically those with the lowest prices and highest selling metrics.
Now this is important.
Not every seller is eligible and there are certain criteria Amazon will assess to determine whether you’re a good fit to begin with.
I should start by saying that if you’re a Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) seller, you will automatically be eligible to win the Buy Box.
If you’re not selling through FBA, however, you will need to meet certain criteria to be in with a chance of becoming the default item for that product:
The first requirement is that you must have a Professional Seller account.
While you can learn more about upgrading to a Pro Seller account on Amazon here, a few things worth bearing in mind include the fact that this type of account is designed for merchants selling more than 35 items a month and also incurs a monthly subscription fee of £25.
Used products won’t be eligible to win the Buy Box and will instead be listed on the “used and new” page, which is linked through to below the Buy Box.
It goes without saying that the better you perform as an Amazon seller, the more likely you are of being eligible for the Buy Box.
But which metrics do Amazon consider when choosing a winner?
While we will outline some of the key factors that influence Buy Box eligibility in a moment, a few crucial ones include your order defect rate, cancellation rate and late shipment rate.
Being eligible to win the Buy Box does not automatically guarantee placement, it just gives you a greater chance of getting a share.
Ultimately, the winner (or winners) are determined by a complex algorithm which considers various factors related to your seller performance and listings.
These factors include (but are certainly not limited to):
Your product listings themselves should be fully optimized and include category information and ASINs.
Poor quality listings i.e. those lacking great images, titles and product descriptions, will struggle to be recognized by Amazon’s algorithm.
For guidance on creating the perfect Amazon listings, have a read of this.
We’ve already mentioned how Amazon favor listings that offer the best value for customers, so it really is crucial that you’re pricing competitively.
That doesn’t mean that the seller with the lowest price will always come out on top though – seller metrics are incredibly important – but it definitely puts you at an advantage.
But it’s not just the item price to consider - offering free delivery also makes you more competitive.
The speed in which you dispatch your products is a great indicator of how reliable and efficient you are as an Amazon seller.
After all, customer satisfaction is what keeps buyers returning to the site and late delivery can compromise that.
This is largely why the Amazon algorithm favors FBA sellers – they know that the products will be shipped on time and without issues.
Again, you don’t need to be using FBA to win the buy box, but you do need to have a low late shipment rate. Ideally, less than 4%.
Your order defect rate is another factor that Amazon considers when awarding the Buy Box, but what exactly is an order defect rate and how is it calculated?
Amazon simply divides the number of orders you dispatch by the number of orders that have negative defects.
Even if an order has multiple defects – negative feedback, A-Z claims and/or chargebacks – Amazon will only consider one defect per order.
When it comes to your rating, anything over 1% can reduce the likeliness of being selected, so you really should be doing all you can to keep it as low as possible.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that you should expect up to a month for Amazon to calculate your order defect rate. This is because orders aren’t completed instantaneously, and it can take time for the order to be delivered and for the customer to leave a review, each of which influences your rating.
Customer service is another factor that Amazon will take into account. After all it is one of their core values as a business.
Prompt responses to complaints, negative reviews, refunds, exchanges and returns can all help with positioning you as a better seller than your competitors.
Now if you’re a small business, it’s not always possible to be active when it comes to your customer support, which is why it really is worth considering the use of FBA.
In addition to handling the picking, packing and shipping of your chosen inventory, Amazon will also handle any related customer queries on your behalf.
Stock availability is an area that often gets forgotten about when it comes to Buy Box eligibility, but it’s important to remember that Amazon favor merchants that strive to maintain a minimum inventory threshold.
This means that overselling your stock not only costs your business in terms of both revenue and reputation, but also reduces your chances of winning your share of the Buy Box.
Many of the factors mentioned above will determine what is known as your Amazon seller rating score. Now while you should be aiming for as high a seller rating as possible, do keep in mind that anything less than 75% will reduce your eligibility.
We’ve covered some of the most important factors that Amazon evaluates when awarding Buy Box placement, but there are a few other things worth keeping in mind.
While the example used earlier in this article shows what the Amazon Buy Box looks like on desktop, it’s also important to know how it appears on mobile.
In fact, appearing in the Buy Box becomes even more important on mobile.
Because firstly there is no “Other Sellers on Amazon” section on mobile – meaning an even higher percentage of buyers will purchase using the Buy Box – and secondly, the number of people shopping on Amazon mobile is increasing year-on-year.
In other words, there are a lot more people shopping on Amazon via mobile, with even more of these shoppers using the Buy Box than on desktop.
That’s a huge opportunity for sales that you could be missing out on if your item isn’t appearing there.
So, you’re doing all you can to win the Buy Box.
But are you prepared for what’s to come if you actually secure placement?
If you are successful in winning the Buy Box, it’s extremely likely that you will experience a surge in sales. After all, at least 82% of Amazon sales are made this way.
This is another reason why inventory is such an important factor, because Amazon need to be convinced that you have the stock available to handle an increase in product demand.
Let's quickly recap on some of the factors that affect the Amazon Buy Box algorithm:
As you can see, this is a lengthy list of requirements to fulfill just to be in with a chance to win the Buy Box and increase your sales.
That's why investing in an effective Amazon inventory management system can be hugely beneficial in boosting your profitability on the leading online marketplace.
Not only does an inventory management system enable you to set minimum inventory thresholds and gain full visibility over your stock in order to avoid overselling, but you can also speed up order processing by automating everything from order creation to label printing, right through to warehouse management and order fulfillment.
Thanks to all this automation, your team will have more free time to focus on growing the business in other ways - whether that's through providing excellent customer service for your Amazon customers or updating your product listings across the marketplace.
As with anything, it can be disheartening when you don’t achieve something you’ve worked incredibly hard for, but winning the buy box should be a key priority for you at all times.
By continuing to improve your performance metrics and develop your experience as an Amazon seller, you not only increase your chances of winning the Buy Box in the future, but you also stand to sell more on Amazon and boost your revenue in the meantime.
So, there we have it. Everything you need to know about winning the Amazon Buy Box and ultimately increasing your sales on Amazon.
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