Amazon is a fiercely competitive marketplace, with up to hundreds of sellers all listing the same product in some categories. And the key to beating those sellers and grabbing your share of the Amazon pie is winning the Buy Box.
More than 80% of sales on Amazon are through the Buy Box, and this is even higher on mobile. That means one single seller is taking the vast majority of sales while all the others are left to fight for the scraps.
In this article, we will reveal Buy Box winning strategies to tilt the odds of success in your favour. While other sellers rely on luck and outdated advice, you can follow a formula that is easy to action and proven to work.
You’ll also discover how Shopkeeper can help you fight for every Buy Box and keep track of all of your listings automatically.
Let’s get started!
The Buy Box enables buyers to make a quick purchase without having to choose who they’re buying from. It’s located in the top right-hand corner of the page, and in the screenshot below you can see how it looks from the buyer’s perspective:
Customers who click on the “Add to Cart” button will automatically buy the product from the seller who has the Buy Box. Therefore, it’s a powerful way of increasing sales, and the goal of every listing should be to win the Buy Box.
Note that in theory private label sellers don’t have to compete with other sellers for the Buy Box, as they’re the brand owner and can stop other sellers from selling on their listing.
However, they may have to deal with the suppression of the Buy Box on their listing as a whole, which means NO seller will be shown. This can look to buyer’s as if the item is out of stock or unavailable and sales velocity will see a sharp decrease.
Buy Box suppression happens if a listing fails to meet Amazon’s criteria, which include factors like item price, promotional activity, low sales volume, and low seller rating score.
Winning the Buy Box can make a massive difference to your sales velocity. After all, it’s a CTA (call to action) above the fold, which most visitors will immediately see after landing on the product listing.
Higher visibility naturally leads to more conversions, with a lot of Amazon buyers unaware that there are even other sellers offering that product - with more than 80% of sales on Amazon going to the Buy Box.
And on mobile it’s even more important as it’s harder to find alternative sellers and so the ratio of buy box sales is likely to be even higher.
Not sure how the Buy Box works? Then let’s take a look at the requirements to ensure you’re eligible to win the spot:
Professional seller account: Individual and Basic account holders are not eligible to win the Buy Box. You must have a Professional account, which costs $39.99 per month.
Buy box eligibility: the seller must have Buy Box eligibility by ensuring the health of key metrics, including late shipment rate, cancellation rate, and order defect rate. Also, eligibility can be fast-tracked by taking advantage of the Amazon FBA service.
Item condition: used items cannot win the Buy Box, however, a separate Used Buy Box is now available.
Stock availability: out of stock products cannot win the Buy Box.
Now let’s look at the factors determining who wins the Buy Box among eligible sellers. These factors are ordered in descending order of importance, so we’ll start with the most impactful factors and end with the least impactful ones at the end.
The fulfillment method is arguably the most important factor, and sellers have 3 options:
FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon)
FBM (Fulfilment by Merchant)
SFP (Seller Fulfilled Prime)
Sellers using the FBA method receive a perfect rating for inventory depth, on-time delivery, and shipping method. Therefore, it’s hard to beat sellers using FBA when it comes to winning the Buy Box.
SFP sellers will generally beat FBM sellers because they’re still offering that coveted Prime shipping and getting into the SFP program in the first place requires you to consistently meet customer expectations and have good performance metrics.
The two prices Amazon sellers should know about are the listing price and the landed price. The latter includes shipping and VAT for UK and EU sellers. Make sure to take this into consideration when pricing your products.
Many sellers assume they will automatically win the Buy Box by offering the lowest price. However, while that is an important metric, it’s only one factor of many.
Therefore, consider lowering your price to win the Buy Box, but not at the cost of significantly impacting profitability. Sellers with better performance metrics and a more expensive product can still win the Buy Box over competitors.
The shipping time is the amount of time it takes for a product to arrive at the buyer’s door from the purchase date. Amazon has invested significantly in their shipping network over the years because they want to reduce shipping times as much as possible.
Therefore, faster shipping will be a big boost when it comes to winning the Buy Box, and it’s even more important for consumables and perishable items. Amazon organises shipping time into 4 brackets:
You can view shipping time on the product page, which will be expressed as a range.
The order defect rate is made up of 3 different metrics, which include the service chargeback rate, A-Z guarantee claim rate, and the negative feedback rating. Amazon uses these metrics to determine the defective order rate, and sellers above 1% are penalised.
To ensure this metric is healthy, you need to ensure your products are exactly as described and provide the highest level of customer satisfaction, as that’s exactly what Amazon expect.
The order defect rate can be viewed by navigating to the Account Health page from the Performance tab in Seller Central.
The feedback score is a rating derived from all feedback a seller receives in the last 30, 90, and 365 days.
The most recent feedback has the biggest impact on the score, and you’ll need a score of 90%+ to ensure your chances of winning the Buy Box are not negatively affected. Also, the number of reviews is considered relative to your selling history.
You can view it in your Seller Central Account by navigating to the Performance tab, and then the Customer Feedback tab.
Amazon is very picky about products being delivered on time, and you should aim for a success rate of 97%+. The metric reflects the percentage of orders delivered within the estimated delivery date over the last 30 days.
You can view the On-Time Delivery metric in your Seller Central Account.
This metric reflects the number of packages that are shipped with valid tracking. The metric is calculated using the last 7 days and 30 days, with more recent orders having a bigger impact. The valid tracking rate must be above 95% to ensure you have a reasonable chance of getting the Buy Box.
Also, all orders processed with Amazon FBA will have valid tracking. You can view the valid tracking rate by choosing Performance from the navigation menu and selecting Account Health.
The late shipment rate metrics refer to the number of orders that shipped later than expected. The default amount of days for shipping out a package is set at 1-2 business days. However, you can change this in your Seller Central Account (and lowering it will give you a boost as it positively impacts your shipping time).
Furthermore, Amazon sellers using FBA will have a late shipment rate of 0%. To ensure that your chances of winning the Buy Box are not affected, you’ll need to have a late shipment rate of below 4%. You can view this metric in your Seller Central account by going to the Performance tab and selecting Account Health.
The response time refers to the time taken to respond to a customer if they ask a question. This metric is tracked over the last 7, 30, and 90 days, with the recent response rate given more consideration.
To ensure your ability to win the Buy Box is not negatively affected by this metric, your average response time should be 12 hours. Furthermore, if replies to 10% of messages took longer than 24 hours, it can significantly impact your chances of winning the Buy Box.
Amazon wants sellers to continually be in stock, so extended periods of no stock will negatively affect your chances of winning the Buy Box. Hence you’ll win a higher share of the Buy Box time if you have a good stock history.
The cancellation rate (also known as the pre-fulfillment cancellation rate) is the percentage of orders that are canceled before the order is shipped. This metric is not among the most important for winning the Buy Box, but a lower cancellation rate is better.
You can view the cancellation rate by clicking on the Performance tab and selecting Account Health.
The refund rate is the percentage of orders refunded after it has been received by the customer.
The refund rate should ideally be below 2.5%, and the two most important factors to achieve this are:
An accurate listing
A quality product
Effective quality control is paramount here, and you should always consider using an inspection company to carry this out for you BEFORE your order ships from the manufacturer.
To view the refund rate, click on the Reports button from the menu, and select Business Reports. Next, click on Seller Performance to view the refund rate.
You might not be winning the Buy Box for several reasons, so it’s hard to point to a single factor. However, by optimizing for the metrics outlined above, you’ll stand the best possible chance of winning that all-important Buy Box.
To get started on improving your chances, we recommend using Amazon FBA since it’s the biggest determining factor for who gets the Buy Box. Of course, price is always important (but you should be mindful of simply being the lowest price seller as before you know it other sellers will undercut you and it’s a race to the bottom!).
You’ll be better off by keeping your perfect order percentage above 95% and offering the lowest shipping time possible.
These points will have a massive impact on your Buy Box chances and put you ahead of the majority of the competition.
Shopkeeper is proud to introduce a new tool, called Listing Health.
Listing Health allows you to add ASINs to monitor various metrics, including:
Whether you have the Buy Box
If the listing is Buy Box suppressed
Therefore, at a glance, you can see what products have won the Buy Box and ones needing optimization to claim the spot.
The Listing Health tool also shows the seller who has won the Buy Box, which allows you to do competitor research.
Furthermore, you can set up alerts to be notified of any changes, so you don’t have to keep checking the page manually.
To do this simply click the bell icon and set whatever listing alerts you want.
Listing Health is included for free as part of your standard Shopkeeper subscription.
As mentioned above, pricing is one of the more important factors for winning the Buy Box. However, if you have tens or hundreds of products selling on Amazon, it would be too time-consuming to manually micromanage each product's price.
Therefore, we share 3 pricing strategies you can implement to increase your odds of winning the Buy Box:
Manual repricing: as the name suggests, manual repricing involves setting the price manually through Amazon Seller Central. This provides the most control over the repricing strategy but is also the most time-consuming. Therefore, sellers with a large product portfolio should consider the other two pricing strategies on this list.
Rule-based repricing: this pricing strategy is based on parameters set by the seller, and some automatic repricing tools offer this feature. An example of a parameter would be to lower the price by 1p compared with the lowest-priced seller (not something we would recommend though!)
Algorithmic repricing: tools that use algorithmic repricing allow sellers with large portfolios to quickly set up their repricing strategy. Little to no manual oversight is required, and these tools can make a big difference in competitive categories.
In conclusion, winning the Amazon Buy Box can seem challenging, but you should always optimize for the factors listed in this article, as they’re simply good practices when selling on Amazon.
For example, reducing the order defect rate or customer response time promotes a better customer experience. Therefore, you can view winning the Buy Box as a checklist of factors for running a successful Amazon business.
Don’t get overwhelmed by a large number of contributing factors. Focus on one at a time, and in order of importance.
What is the next step after losing the buy box?
After losing the Buy Box, the next step should be to log into Seller Central and look at the key metrics outlined in this article to determine if one falls outside the desired parameters. Next, go down the list of factors that increase the chances of winning the Buy Box and optimize them.
Is the Amazon Buy Box rigged?
The Amazon Buy Box is not rigged since every seller has the same chance of winning. In practice, we have no way of knowing if the Buy Box is rigged, but the Amazon marketplace is a fair platform that focuses on customer satisfaction, and the Buy Box is part of the equation.
What is the Amazon Buy Box rotation model?
The Amazon Buy Box rotation model ensures that the same seller cannot always win the Buy Box. This is because Amazon’s algorithm switches the top eligible sellers based on metrics such as price and performance.
Will winning the Buy Box increase sales?
Yes, winning the Buy Box will substantially impact sales numbers. That's because the Buy Box is an effective CTA that pushes the seller who has won the placement.
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