The Amazon Buy Box: How to Win It
This blog post was originally contributed by Travis Tomlinson, Senior Product Manager at SellerActive.
FBA sellers everywhere drool after the coveted Amazon Buy Box. But your chances of winning it in a crowded market are slim to none.
Do the math: Each product 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.
Buyers weigh price with shipping time, seller reliability, and other factors. They make these purchasing decisions at a glance.
Because of the overwhelming competition, Amazon is motivated to make the checkout process easier for the buyer. By reducing the number of decisions they must make, conversion rates soar. That’s where the Buy Box, AKA the Featured Offer, comes into play.
The Amazon Buy Box is special real estate given to a product page. When a product wins the Amazon Buy Box, the buyer sees what Amazon deems the best deal (which is not always the cheapest in terms of the landed price).
The Buy Box solves the “too many options” problem by separating the featured offer from the other offers. In fact, the Buy Box 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.
Chapter I 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 has the best shipping time?
- 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:
- Price your items competitively
- Offer faster shipping and free shipping
- Provide great customer service
- 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
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. 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, you will likely have to use pricing software unless your catalog is small enough to price by hand. There are 3 options:
A. Seller Central’s automated pricing tool
Your Amazon account 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.
B. Third party rule-based pricing
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.
C. Third-party algorithmic pricing
Third-party algorithmic pricing’s objective is either outright winning the Buy Box or maximizing the time you get the Buy Box. 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.
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.
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 keeps 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. One of the 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 score and product reviews. Learn how to best do so at How to Get Reviews on Amazon in 2021.
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.
CHAPTER II Additional Buy Box Scenarios and Opportunities
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.
Am I Eligible for the Amazon Buy Box?
The minimum eligibility requirement for the Buy Box is a good-standing Professional Seller 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. Display your performance metrics and eligibility in the Manage Inventory grid.
CHAPTER III The Final Word on 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. 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.
Maria is an SEO Content Specialist at Seller Labs. Once captured by digital and content marketing in her student days, she keeps living and breathing it ever since.