With over six million 3rd-party sellers on the platform, Amazon is a competitive marketplace. Some merchants create their own products, control the manufacturing process and sell them. They're called private label sellers, and they typically own patents for their product designs. In addition, several thousand vendors resell other brands.
To avoid confusion, Amazon controls reselling by using a Buy Box. It picks one top reseller for all customers to buy from, showcases a few others, and ignores the rest. Highly competitive algorithms assess the vendors' past performance before selecting the best one. Amazon may also rotate the Buy Box between a few different sellers and give the spot to a new merchant each week. If you are reselling, you want to win that buy box and watch your sales grow exponentially!
This article discusses several practical strategies you can implement to win the Amazon Buy Box more frequently and increase your profits!
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What is the Amazon Buy Box?
You will see the Buy Box on the right of a product listing page that has several resellers. The Add to Cart button links to the merchant who has won the box for the day. Other merchants may appear further down the page, but they all look the same to the buyer, who just sees merchant names and the same price. Most customers just click add to cart and check out. All these sales are directly funneled to the winner! Simply put, Buy Box is the easiest way to get more sales on Amazon.
Buy Box on mobile
More people shop on their phones today, so winning the Buy Box on mobile is more important than ever before. The Buy Box shows up directly under the product image for mobile viewers. Mobile app viewers also see a Buy Now button, which lets them purchase the item from the winner with a single click. They also don't get to see any other resellers.
Is the Buy Box really important?
Ranking high on the Amazon Buy Box algorithm is very important for those who don't have unique products with few competitors. New sellers can struggle to build a business without qualifying for the box. Customers usually don’t investigate sellers of a product themselves because it takes time and effort they don’t want to expend. Hence, the reseller linked to the cart gets the sale. Also, probably the reason why more than 82% of sales come from the Buy Box. The percentage for mobile sales is even higher.
Who is eligible for the Buy Box?
If there are multiple high-ranking sellers for a particular product, the system rotates through the list, giving each company a proportionate number of opportunities to make sales. Not all sellers make it to this list. You have to meet three minimum eligibility requirements just to be considered for the Buy Box. You must have:
- A professional seller account plan
- Sufficient inventory. Out of stock items lose eligibility immediately
- New items. Used items have a separate used items buy box.
How to check your eligibility for the Buy Box?
You can check if your products are eligible for Buy Box in your Seller Central account. Go to “Manage Inventory” and then:
- Click on the Preference Tab
- Look in the Column Display section for the Buy Box Eligible field
- From the drop-down menu, choose “Show When Available.”
- If you look at the appropriate column for any SKU, it will say “Yes” if it is.
Top 4 strategies to quickly win the Buy Box
The answer to How to Win the Amazon Buy Box? is complex but understanding some things about the different variables within the system can make it easier to achieve. While the exact Seller metrics of Amazon's decision algorithm are secret, the top four strategies that have the maximum impact are given below.
1. Fulfillment by Amazon
When selling on Amazon, if you are shipping items yourself to customers, it is called Fulfilled by Merchant(FBM). The other option is FBA, the in-house logistics and delivery service for third-party sellers. You just have to send your products to Amazon’s warehouse, and it will handle shipping and delivery for you. FBAs have the best chance at the Buy Box because they automatically get perfect scores on several critical criteria like shipping time and inventory availability. Unfortunately, FBM organizations or individuals don’t often qualify.
2. Seller-Fulfilled Prime
Instead of FBA, vendors can opt for Seller-Fulfilled Prime(SFP) status. This program allows sellers to reach Prime members without paying additional FBA fees. FBAs still get preference, but SFPs also have a strong chance of qualifying for the Buy Box.
To become an SFP, companies must have a strong FBM performance record. To qualify for SFP status, you must meet shipping criteria such as:
- On-time shipment rate of at least 99 percent
- Under 1 percent cancellation rate
- Weekend operation six days a week, including either Saturday or Sunday operation.
- Delivery speed targets for One-Day and Two-Day delivery promises.
You can see the current and complete SFP requirements list here.
3. Landed price
On Amazon, the landed price is the total a buyer pays for something, including extras and shipping. The lower this amount, the better your chances of getting the Amazon Buy Box. While low cost is essential, the algorithm also considers a seller’s overall performance. For example, someone with better metrics can charge extra and still retain their Buy Box share, while newer sellers have to price lower to win the box.
4. Shipping time
Two companies with similar products and similar prices but different ship times are looked at differently by Amazon. The metric has a greater impact on the algorithm for time-sensitive items like perishables and personalized birthday cards or gifts
Shipping times appear on the product detail page and fall into one of four categories by the number of working days it takes to ship:
- 14 or more.
An easy way to improve your chances for the Buy Box is simply shortening your shipping time frame. However, don’t over-promise. Promising 2-day shipping but consistently missing that window will do more harm than good.
Six more tips to win the Buy box
Suppose you have already set up FBA or SFP and have an optimum landing price but are still not making it into the box, then don't get frustrated! Here are several more strategies to win the Amazon Buy Box!
Keep extra inventory
Adequate stock levels show Amazon that you can fulfill the extra sales that the Buy Box brings. Conversely, if you don’t consistently have stock available, you lose credit within the algorithm.
Consistently prioritize customer service
The Amazon Buy Box algorithm tracks a seller's order defect rate (ODR) to assess their customer service delivery. If your ODR drops below 1 percent, you will lose Buy Box eligibility. The algorithm measures ODR by combining three key metrics.
- Negative feedback rating - Having more than 1 percent of negative reviews(1 or 2 stars) hurts ODR.
- A-Z guarantee claim rate - Amazon tracks how often they use the A-Z guarantee to cover your buyers. The more the guarantee is used, the lower your ODR.
- Service chargeback rate - If the ratio between the number of transactions a merchant processes and the number of chargebacks it receives goes over 1 percent, your ODR increases.
Offer tracking information
To gain and maintain an Amazon Buy Box, 95% of your packages must have valid tracking numbers. The Valid Tracking Rate metric measures the percentage of total packages that have been shipped with accurate tracking information. It is calculated over the last seven days and the last 30 days. Companies that use standard carriers like Federal Express and United Parcel Service or trackable United Postal Service will not have a problem with this measurement.
Avoid shipping delays
While sellers don't always control when a product gets delivered, Amazon tracks how often orders arrive at their destination when originally predicted. It uses two key metrics to do so.
- The late shipment rate is the number of orders shipped later than the expected date.
- Delivery on-time rate is the number of orders shipped on time.
Both measurements are calculated over a rolling window of seven and 30 days. You must keep late shipments below 4% and on-time rates above 97% if you FBM. For example, if you don't specify a shipping time, you will be assigned a 1–2-day shipping category by default. If you consistently ship after three days, your high late shipment rate will prevent you from qualifying for the Buy Box. You might consider changing your shipping company or warehouse location to improve these metrics.
Proactively collect reviews
Customers often leave reviews if they have a negative experience but may not say anything after positive experiences. If you don't proactively seek positive reviews, your negative review percentage may unfairly increase. Neutral (3-star) reviews don't help either. You need more current positive reviews to win the box. You can read our guide to get more positive reviews in a short time!
Respond promptly to customer queries
Amazon expects sellers to respond to buyer questions within 12 hours. If more than 10% of your messages only get a response after 24 hours (or never), your chances of winning the Buy Box reduce significantly. It's important to note that sometimes a message doesn't need a response. To prevent that from counting against you, you should mark the comment as “no response needed.”
What are Buy Box pricing strategies?
The most straightforward pricing strategy is studying the competition and offering a product at the lowest price. However, the lowest rates don't guarantee a Buy Box or translate into high profits. You can try three options to set the optimal Buy Box price.
You change the price of each item manually. Most sellers do this when starting out. However, you must be careful not to manipulate market rates, as Amazon discourages the practice. As a new seller, use coupons and temporary discounts rather than a low listing price if you want to use a low introductory price when launching a product. In other words, list the amount you will want to get after the start-up period and let buyers use coupons or discount codes to pay less.
While manual repricing works well for homemade and unique items, it is unsustainable once your Amazon business scales up. It is also an error-prone and impractical strategy for resellers who have to price their products and frequently update their prices competitively.
You can set rules that update your prices automatically when competitors change their prices. For example, you can set up rules to beat your competitor by a percentage. However, automation may reduce profitability if it auto-calculates a non-profitable landing price and also kick-off price wars.
You can pay to access a service that takes rule-based pricing a step further by accounting for all the variables involved in pricing, such as Amazon fees, shipping rates, competitor pricing, and more. A Northeastern University Study done in 2017 showed the correlation between algorithmic repricing and a higher Buy Box share and profitability. It also noted that 60 percent of sellers using this method wouldn't have the lowest price for a product. For algorithmic repricing services, you can pay a service company like Sellery, Feedvisor, and RepriceIt.
Can you lose your Buy Box status on Amazon?
Buy Box wins are not permanent. Depending on the number of resellers for your product, you could periodically lose the Buy Box as it rotates between sellers or lose it permanently if your performance drops. Three reasons why you could lose the Buy Box include:
A competitor’s performance or pricing activity could lead them to win the Box instead of you. We highly recommend using Semrush’s Amazon Listing Alerts tool to monitor your Buy Box status 24/7 and receive instant alerts if anything changes. It will also help you respond immediately to status changes and fix the issue as soon as possible.
If the algorithm determines that your price is very high or low or swings from one extreme to another, you could lose the Buy Box. This can happen even if there’s only a single seller for the listing. Amazon wants to discourage companies from offering their products at rock bottom prices to kick start sales or gain reviews, then change to a higher price later. This kind of offer manipulation might lose you the box.
The same metrics that help you get an Amazon Buy Box may also lose it for you. For example, sellers that suddenly have too many negative reviews, late shipments, or long response times get into trouble. You also lose the box if Amazon suspends your selling privileges for any reason.
What's new in the Buy Box?
Buy Box is now called Featured Offer on Seller Central. Everything still works the same way but the terms used are different. Another change is that Amazon has recently introduced two new metrics to improve the buying experience:
- Return Dissatisfaction Rate measures satisfaction with the vendor’s product return process
- Customer Service Dissatisfaction Rate measures the percentage of buyers who aren’t satisfied with a seller’s responses in Messaging.
While presently, the two newest metrics aren’t being considered when evaluating sellers for Buy Box, they probably will count in the future. Therefore, learning about these ratings and working towards low rates is important whether you are seeking a box or already have one and don’t want to lose it.
Most sales go through an Amazon Buy Box, so qualifying for one can lead to overnight success. Since more people now shop on mobile devices, where the Amazon App doesn’t show multiple seller options, having a Buy Box matters even more. Without a Buy Box, reselling on Amazon is much more difficult.
Qualifying for the Buy Box doesn't depend on any single factor but is determined by many variables. New sellers should start by concentrating on the most important aspects like becoming an FBA, having excellent customer service, and having Prime-eligible products. In addition, pricing strategies matter, as do inventory depth and low order defect rates. New factors are considered every year, so keeping on top of changes can help you get and keep your Buy Box!
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This guide focuses on winning the Buy Box for specific products in your Amazon store. However, it is essential to note that your overall seller feedback score also counts towards your Buy Box status. Seller feedback is different from product feedback and customer reviews for individual products. Instead, it impacts all the products you sell. Learn more about how to improve your seller feedback score to win the Buy Box for more than one product!