The Amazon Buy Box (and How to Win It) Explained

Each product (identifiable by a unique ASIN) on Amazon has its own detail page where sellers list offers for that product. If there are many sellers offering a single product, it can be overwhelming for buyers who must choose between a panoply of options before making a purchase. Buyers are looking to balance price with shipping speed with seller reliability and other factors. Because of this, Amazon is motivated to make the checkout process easier for the buyer by reducing the number of decisions they must make. That’s where the Buy Box, known on Amazon sometimes as the Featured Offer, comes into play.

The Amazon Buy Box is special real estate given to an offer on an ASIN’s product page. The Buy Box solves the “too many options” problem by separating the featured offer from the other offers so that the buyer sees what Amazon deems the best deal (not always the cheapest). The Buy Box is an effective solution. It stands out and the offer featured there accounts for over 90% of purchases on Amazon. Needless to say, for Amazon sellers, having their offer featured in the Buy Box is enormously important.

Amazon Buy Box Explained

Am I Eligible for the Amazon Buy Box?

The minimum eligibility requirement for the Buy Box is having good-standing status of a Professional selling account. If you’re a Professional seller, you can determine if individual items are eligible for the Buy Box by going to Manage Inventory in Seller Central, clicking Preferences, and selecting Buy Box Eligible in order to display eligibility in the Manage Inventory grid. 

Seller Labs Pro Tip: Seller Central can be a confusing, time-consuming experience. Read The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Seller Central Answers and Tools so you can maximize your time in Seller Central. 

How Does Amazon Choose the Featured Offer?

Amazon attempts to make the same decisions a buyer would make when determining which offer to place in the Buy Box. After all, Amazon is looking to display the offer that is not only most profitable for it but most likely to be selected by a buyer. When comparing offers from a few sellers, a buyer might ask themselves questions like: 

  • Which offer has the best price?
  • Which offer will get to me the fastest?
  • Which offers are in stock at Amazon and Prime fulfilled?
  • If I must return the item, will that be easy for me to do? 
  • Does this seller have good reviews?
  • Does this seller have enough stock for the amount I want to purchase?

The same is true for Amazon when determining which offer to place in the Buy Box. Straight from Seller Central, to become the featured offer you must:

  1. Price your items competitively
  2. Offer faster shipping and free shipping
  3. Provide great customer service
  4. Keep stock available

And just as a buyer might prioritize some of these questions above others when choosing which offer to purchase, Amazon weighs some of these attributes, like price, above others in order to predict which offer will give the best buying experience. Let’s go into detail about each of these:

1. Price Your Items Competitively

It’s probably obvious that price is king when it comes to winning the Buy Box, but that does not mean there has to be a race to the bottom for every product. If your offer is competitively priced and you are considered a good buying choice based on your other seller metrics, you are going to be in the Buy Box rotation. 

Chances are good that your competitors are using automated pricing to keep their listings up to date and increase their Buy Box chances. To stay competitively priced and in the Buy Box mix, you will likely have to do the same unless your catalog is small enough to price by hand.

There are a few options for automated pricing that you can choose from: 

Seller Central offers a very lightweight repricing solution for sellers just starting out with repricing. Its Buy Box rule lets you price below the current Buy Box winner by any amount that you set. This works well if you are a smaller seller who has consistent competition and you know how much you have to beat them by in order to capture the Buy Box. 

Third-party rule-based pricing works in much the same way but typically gives you more options to choose from. You’ll often be able to change how you compete based on the competition’s fulfillment type or ratings, what to do when you’re the only seller for a product, and how to react when a product isn’t eligible for the Buy Box. 

Third-party algorithmic pricing can get significantly more advanced. The objective here is either outright winning the Buy Box or maximizing the time you get the Buy Box compared to the competition. These tools work by looking at how your offer compares to the other offers for a product across all the attributes that Amazon also looks at. Algorithmic repricers will compare fulfillment types, shipping speeds, feedback scores, seller ratings, return rates, and other seller metrics to determine which offer would provide the best buying experience. From there, the tool predicts how much lower (or higher) to set the price in order to become the most compelling offer for Amazon and to thus win the Buy Box.

Often, if the algorithmic repricer manages to capture the Buy Box at the predicted price, it will continue to price up to capture as much margin as it can while keeping the seller in the Buy Box. Try SellerActive’s automatic repricer to help your business rank higher in search, capture more Buy Boxes, and best of all, maximize profit margins.

2. Offer Faster Shipping and Free Shipping

Like competitive pricing, fast and free shipping goes a long way to getting your offer in the Buy Box. The most straightforward way to do this is to use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) when it makes sense to. Not only will FBA make your offers more compelling to buyers and to the Buy Box algorithm by enabling them with free and fast shipping, it also helps keep your seller metrics high since Amazon handles the returns and refunds for you. If you don’t use FBA, offering free and fast handling time (two days or fewer) on your merchant fulfilled items is critical to capturing the Buy Box. 

3. Provide Great Customer Service

Amazon measures customer service in a variety of ways and you need to make sure your customer service metrics are healthy in all of them in order to be competitive for the Buy Box. One of these health metrics factoring into winning the Buy Box is your Order Defect Rate. It consists of:

  • Negative Feedback Rate
  • A-to-z Guarantee Claim Rate
  • Credit Card Chargeback Rate

You need to keep your ODR under 1% in order to sell on Amazon. An ODR above 1% may result in account deactivation. But that shouldn’t happen because you should be monitoring your seller feedback and product reviews to keep customers happy and address any larger problems with your product. Learn how to best do so at How to Get Reviews on Amazon in 2020

In terms of more metrics affecting the Buy Box, your Cancellation Rate should be well below the 2.5% cutoff required to keep your account active. If you’re not using FBA, your Late Shipment Rate has to be below 4%.

4. Keep Stock Available

Simply put, you can’t sell what you don’t have, and if you’re out of stock, you can’t win the Buy Box. The Amazon Selling Coach will show you low/out-of-stock alerts. Third-party inventory management tools tend to be more sophisticated. For example, you can automatically sync quantities across every channel you sell on with SellerActive Multichannel Inventory Management Software.

Additional Buy Box Scenarios and Opportunities

Who wins the Buy Box when every offer is good or when none are? When there is no clear winner and every offer would be a good choice to buy, Amazon still wants to provide the best buying experience it can. In these cases, Amazon rotates the Buy Box among the eligible offers. This way, buyers still have an easy choice and the checkout process is streamlined. As well, all eligible sellers have an equal chance of being shown to a buyer as the Featured Offer. 

When there are no eligible offers, Amazon will remove the Buy Box from the product details page as rather than picking an underperforming seller to give the featured status to. Amazon might also remove the Buy Box from a page if there has been an increase in complaints about that product. Always check the Manage Inventory page in Seller Central to see if a product has lost eligibility for the Buy Box. 

The Final Word on Understanding and Winning the Amazon Buy Box

With an overwhelming percentage of sales happening through the Buy Box because of its prime page real estate and easy checkout flow, it should be one of the primary metrics you track for the health of your Amazon account. If you have the margin to play around with prices and you can use an automated repricer, you are going to have a leg up on the competition. But if you don’t, remember that there are many other factors at play in earning that coveted spot. Putting effort into improving all of them will go a long way towards securing your share of Buy Box wins.

Guest Author Travis Tomlinson is the Product Manager at SellerActive. With 10+ years of eCommerce experience, he leads the team creating Pricing, Listing, and Inventory Management solutions for Amazon, eBay and Walmart sellers.

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