Amazon is the biggest e-commerce marketplace in the world and offers incredible opportunities. In the US, 81 percent of the people who use the internet use Amazon. It is also strong in other markets, including the UK where it is the most visited e-commerce website.
You can generate sales on Amazon without winning the Buy Box, but the Buy Box is where the real action takes place. Now we get to the juicy part – up to 90 percent of Amazon's sales go through the Buy Box. That is a figure approaching $100 billion a year.
If you would like to get more sales from Amazon, winning the Amazon Buy Box is instrumental.
This article explains what the role of the Buy Box is and how you can substantially increase your chances of winning it.
The Ins and Outs of Amazon Buy Box
Use Fulfillment by Amazon
Aim for the Competitive Landed Price
Get your Perfect Order Percentage (POP) Score
Cut back on your Shipping Time
Minimize Order Defect Rate
What Amazon buy box is
There is a lot of information on a product page on Amazon, but the most important is the Buy Box. In fact, 82 percent of sales on Amazon go through the Buy Box. The number is even higher for sales on mobile devices, with many experts believing the total figure could be closer to 90 percent.
The Buy Box lets shoppers make selections about a product, such as the quantity they want to buy, as well as giving details of the seller. Crucially, the shopper can click Amazon's Add to Cart button to make their purchase – this button is in the Buy Box too.
On a desktop computer, it appears on the right of the screen. On a mobile device, the Buy Box appears below the product image and the main product details – price, discount information, availability, and shipping details.
In other words, if you are a seller and it is your product listing in the Buy Box, you get the sale. Winning the Buy Box is, therefore, crucially important to being successful on Amazon.
Of course, shoppers can choose not to buy from the seller in the Buy Box but to use another seller. There are multiple ways to do this.
For example, shoppers can click on the link to view all sellers for a product and can then select the merchant they want to buy from manually. However, the vast majority of people will simply click on the option in the Buy Box.
The Buy Box is displayed on individual product pages and is the quickest and easiest way for a customer to buy.
If other vendors sell the same products as you do, then you will compete with them for winning the Buy Box. So if more sellers are selling the same product, Amazon will decide through an algorithm which seller is the best fit to get the Buy Box.
When the customer clicks the Add to Cart button, the items of the seller who won the Buy Box will be added to the shopper's cart.
How to get into Amazon Buy Box
Getting your listing into, or winning the Buy Box, involves understanding how Amazon's algorithm works. It looks at several factors to decide if a seller is eligible for the Buy Box.
For most products, there will be multiple eligible sellers. Amazon then further analyzes the eligible sellers to determine what share of the Buy Box each should get.
In other words, a single seller does not win the Buy Box every time. Instead, it gets a share of the Buy Box.
However, Amazon doesn't allocate the Buy Box share equally. Instead, sellers who are strongest, according to their criteria, get the highest share.
Therefore, as a seller, there are two steps you must take:
- Become eligible for the Buy Box
- Once eligible, optimize to get as much share as possible
Let's explore both steps in detail.
Becoming Eligible for Amazon Buy Box
Before you start competing for the Buy Box, you have to become Buy Box eligible. There are several requirements:
- You must have a Professional Seller account (Pro-Merchant account in Europe)
- Order defect rate < 1%
- Pre-fulfilment cancel rate < 2,5%
- Late Shipment rate < 4%
- The product must be in stock new and available
You can check if you are Buy Box eligible in Amazon Seller Central. For a detailed description of all the conditions and requirements of becoming Buy Box Eligible you can check your Buy Box Eligible Status or take a closer look at the Seller Performance Measurement.
Once you are eligible for the Buy Box, the situation becomes a competition between you and other eligible sellers. The only judge in this competition is the Amazon Buy Box algorithm.
Optimizing the Variables to Win Amazon Buy Box
- Amazon uses an algorithm to decide which seller gets the Buy Box. When a customer clicks and completes the purchase, that seller gets the sale.
- Any eligible third-party seller can, theoretically, get into the Buy Box, even when competing against Amazon itself.
- CPC Strategy has even came up with a recipe for Amazon Buy Box’s success listing all the ''ingredients'' and their importance in the algorithm.
Still, cracking the buy box code is almost impossible because Amazon keeps on adjusting the percentage and weight of the variables they take into consideration when determining the winner.
There is a misconception that price is the biggest factor in winning the Buy Box. This is incorrect because the seller with the cheapest price is not guaranteed to win. In fact, there are many other factors that will influence the end result.
Competing only on price also creates other problems, such as a race to the bottom between sellers. Nobody wins when that happens.
The good news is that most variables are under your control and you should focus on acing them: stellar feedback, shipping on time, responding quickly to customer inquiries, FBA, having a competitive price and always up-to-date inventory.
Tips on how to win Amazon Buy Box
It’s better to use Fulfillment by Amazon
This is a challenge for most merchants on Amazon, i.e. those who self-manage fulfillment. The Amazon algorithm gives an advantage to sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon or Seller-Fulfilled Prime.
If you fulfill your own orders, you have two options:
→ The first is to focus your optimization efforts on the other variables in this list. You can still win a greater share of the Buy Box with this strategy.
→ The second is to explore becoming a Seller-Fulfilled Prime seller where you continue to fulfill orders but you do it according to Prime terms and conditions.
Aim for the competitive landed price
The Landed Price is the total price of a product once it has arrived at a buyer's door. It includes the ''Price'' at which you list your product on Amazon, but it also takes other elements into account, like shipping price, distance, shipping provider, product price, seller margins, and manufacturer.
It is important to state that the lowest price will not guarantee that you'll get the Buy Box, but it might even hurt you by being perceived as a cheap seller instead of a quality one. Having said that, it is important to stay competitive, but don't aim for the lowest price.
Still, if all the other variants are equal among sellers, a lower landed price will improve your Buy Box share. It may also help when you are not performing well with some of the other variables.
Pro-Tip: To stay profitable while also maximizing your Buy Box share, use a third-party repricing tool to automatically adjust your prices based on your competition. This will ensure your prices go up as well as down, depending on the market. There are repricing tools on the market specialized in winning the Amazon Buy Box, such as RepricerExpress, RepriceIt, and Appeagle.
In DataFeedWatch you can then merge the repricing feed with your product feed, creating rules to make the necessary adjustments.
Get your Perfect Order Percentage (POP) score
This is an Amazon metric that considers a number of factors relating to orders. This includes late shipments, cancellations, negative feedback, chargebacks, A-to-Z Guarantee claims, and buyer-initiated messages.
If you have a low POP score, you will struggle to win the Buy Box. In fact, even if you have a high score you still might not win if your competitors have a better score (assuming everything else is equal).
Pro-Tip: To give you an edge, you should consider using a third-party order management tool to ensure your order process runs as smoothly as possible. Then you stand a better chance to improve the POP score especially if you are selling your inventory in more than one place. You can synchronize all the orders that come from Amazon in one place and improve your fulfillment and shipping time.
Cut back on your Shipping Time
Shipping is considered by the Amazon algorithm in a number of ways, but the most important is promised shipment time, i.e. the shorter the time, the better.
Keep in mind Amazon's shipping time categories (0-2 days, 3-7 days, 8-13 days, and 14 or more days).
Moving to a better category is much more effective than making improvements within a category. For example, it will make a bigger impact moving from three to two days than moving from four to three days.
Other shipping factors that influence the Buy Box are late shipment rate, on-time delivery rates, and shipping cost (in relation to landed cost, i.e. cost of product + shipping).
Pro-Tip: Reduce your shipping time, ship quickly, and consider offering free shipping.
Feedback score - good feedback scores, particularly in the last 30 days, will help you win the Buy Box.
Minimize Order Defect Rate
The higher the rate, the worse your Buy Box performance will be. Amazon calculates the order defect rate based on negative feedback, A-to-Z guarantee claims, and chargebacks.
Customer response time - responding to messages quickly and making customers happy helps.
Amazon Buy Box Mobile - increasing importance
Mobile devices have become the key driver in shopping. On mobile, the Buy Box takes on heightened importance.
That’s because, unlike on a desktop or laptop, the mobile site features the Buy Box directly under the product image. On mobile devices, the winner takes it all. The ”Buy Box” is critical because is directly below the product image and price. To see anything else, the customer has to scroll down.
Most people don’t scroll, so they won’t see the other options or even know they exist. Even when they do scroll, all they will see is a link to all sellers as there is no option for pre-selected Other Sellers.
More people buy through the Buy Box on mobile than desktop. This will increase given that, since October 2016, there are now more mobile users on the internet than desktop users
14 million people aged 25-34 access Amazon only on mobile
To understand the importance of mobile further, consider how Amazon displays its products. On desktop devices, customers see the Buy Box, a list of Other Sellers, and a link to all sellers. The Buy Box has the most prominent position, but sales do leak to the other options.
A focus on the Amazon Buy Box will help you make more sales. You should do this intelligently, however, so you don’t damage your profitability. Target your optimization efforts strategically and efficiently using automation and third-party tools where possible.
Don't try to beat or trick the algorithm by, for example, adopting an aggressive pricing strategy or artificially inflating your reviews. It sometimes results in short-term gains but the gains medium-term and long-term are non-existent. There is no one-trick to beating the Buy Box, but rather a complex web of metrics to be tracked and developed.
If you are looking to ramp-up the quality of your Amazon listings, then you might find our article How to List Your Products on Amazon useful.
Amazon is the place to be and to maximize your returns - there's no doubt about it. It is not an easy-peasy to get the most of Amazon, but once you know how to optimize the Buy Box you can surely increase your chance to sell more.