How to Win (And Keep) the Amazon Buy Box
As an Amazon seller, you know that winning the Buy Box can make or break your business. But what exactly is the Buy Box? And how do you win it? In this post, I’ll explain exactly what the Buy Box is, how to win it, and give you some tips on how to keep it.
What is the Amazon Buy Box?
The Amazon Buy Box is the section that appears on the right side of the product listing page that allows a shopper to add the item to their cart. On the app or on mobile, it appears beneath the images.
Not all sellers have access to the Buy Box on Amazon.
Oftentimes when there are third-party sellers – other sellers selling the same product – this can get complicated. Only one seller can win the Buy Box on Amazon at a time. Problems ensue.
Why is the Buy Box on Amazon Important for Sellers?
Considering that 82% of sales on Amazon come through the Buy Box (and even more for mobile shoppers), it’s incredibly important for a seller to win it.
Adding an item directly to the cart from the product listing page is the easiest way for a customer to make a purchase on Amazon. When you don’t have access to the Buy Box, the customer has to check out the options from other sellers.
Most customers are unaware that the Buy Box even exists or that there are other sellers of the same product. For most people, adding to cart is a given. Losing the Buy Box could mean losing a lot of sales.
Let’s have a look at an example. Below is Clif Bar’s (the brand) Buy Box:
Below the large Buy Box, is a list of other sellers selling the same product.
You can check them out by clicking on other options. A list like this will pop up:
When there’s no Buy Box, it’s possible that the customer doesn’t even know what to do. It’s not very user-friendly to have to go through a long list of options when you have a much easier option. You may have noticed the prices and shipping times as well – Amazon prefers the lowest price and fastest shipping. This is all in part due to the customer-centric nature of Amazon’s sales flywheel model.
The Buy Box on Mobile
We’ve discussed the importance of optimizing your product listings on Amazon for mobile in the past. When considering the Buy Box on mobile, it’s important to win it here too. Again, few people know about the Other sellers on Amazon option so if you want your fair share of sales, you understand how important it is.
Amazon Buy Box Eligibility: Are you Eligible?
Before we get into how to win the Buy Box, you must first be sure that you are indeed eligible to win it.
Amazon lists 3 requirements:
- A professional Amazon seller account
- High performance metrics
- Sufficient order volume (this varies among categories)
If you were able to check these off, you’re one step closer to winning the Buy Box on Amazon. Let’s see what factors go into winning it.
How to Win the Amazon Buy Box
Although there is no surefire way of winning the Buy Box on Amazon, there are some things you can do to increase the odds. It’s also important to consider that the Buy Box is actually being rotated between sellers. It’s a percentage share that they’re competing for. The seller with the largest share is the one who “wins” the Buy Box.
Amazon has said that its algorithm is designed to choose the sellers that are able to offer the best overall shopping experience based on these 4 factors:
- Stock availability
- Customer Experience
Focusing on the overall customer experience makes sure that the sellers are offering the best service possible. You have to step up your game to get your share of the Buy Box and make your money. Let’s have a look at each factor individually.
Amazon’s whole business model relies on competitive pricing. It’s the reason so many millions of customers flock to the online shop. Price also plays the heaviest role in winning the Buy Box.
It’s not always the most obvious tactics that will help you win, though. There are other factors that go into providing an enjoyable customer experience combined with pricing that help you come out on top.
You should take a look at how your competitors are pricing themselves (especially if you’re a third-party seller) to determine a good price. Just as important as pricing correctly at the beginning is looking through your data, studying your competitors and adjusting the price as needed.
The idea of landed price refers to the total cost of the product including shipping and taxes. Amazon’s algorithm takes this all into account when selecting the winner of the Buy Box and so should you.
Consider going with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to ship your orders you’ll have a better chance of getting the best price for shipping.
When Can You Price Higher on Amazon?
Finding the perfect price to win the Buy Box can be challenging, but the more you pay attention, the easier it gets. Is there ever a time when you can price higher than a competitor? Yes. Here are some examples.
You can price your product higher than your competitors if:
- You’re shipping with Fulfilment by Amazon, but your competitor is using FBM (shipping with FBA is much faster and cheaper than FBM)
- If you have a higher seller rating (because you’re able to deliver a better customer experience)
- You have more stock available (Amazon takes into account how much stock you have available)
- You’re a domestic seller competing against an international seller (an international seller will have slower and more expensive shipping)
If your product is out of stock, you won’t show up as an option to buy.
There’s also nothing worse than selling a product you don’t have. This can happen if you’re doing “fulfilment by merchant” and have a problem with inventory. If this happens, it’s more likely that the customer leaves a negative review when they realize their order can’t be fulfilled. Negative reviews will negatively impact your performance metrics as a seller as well as the customer experience.
Fulfilling your Amazon orders is just as important as pricing and availability. Again, because of Amazon’s customer-centric model, fast and cheap (if not free) shipping is what makes customers happy.
There are 3 types of shipping on Amazon:
Fulfilment by Merchant (FBM)
You as the seller are responsible for shipping
If you’re shipping through FBM, it’s crucial to accurately advertise your shipping times. As shipping is a big factor in Amazon’s algorithm when giving out the Buy Box, overpromising on a quick shipping time and not delivering will negatively impact your shipping score and overall performance metrics.
Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA)
Ship your products to the Amazon warehouse and they, pick, pack and ship your orders for you. Also makes you eligible for Prime shipping
Amazon’s shipping through its warehouse (FBA) is your best bet if you don’t have your own warehouse that can offer very fast shipping. Because of the incredibly high volume of products they carry, Amazon is able to offer competitive prices for shipping (even FREE), as well as returns and customer support. And the service is excellent – they take responsibility for any shipping-related problems.
A side note here about prime shipping. As customers are continually expecting faster and faster shipping times, they’ll be on the lookout for badges on the search results page that suggest best prices, fast shipping or social proof indicators like “Amazon’s Choice” or “Best Seller” badges. Having one of these on your listings makes it even likelier that you’ll be able to win the Buy Box.
Seller-Fulfilled Prime (SFP)
Sell products from your warehouse with the Prime badge
Amazon isn’t currently open for Seller-Fulfilled Prime (there is a waitlist you can join), however the program works with your own warehouse if you can successfully complete the trial period and offer 2-day shipping.
As we’ve said, Amazon customers have been spoiled by this quick shipping and they want their products quickly. If you can deliver on the promise, you’ll have a better chance of winning the Buy Box.
If we take a look again at the list of competitors for the Buy Box, you’ll notice the difference in delivery dates. Amazon normally awards the Buy Box to the sellers with the quickest shipping and the lowest price. Hence why the brand Clif Bar owns the Buy Box here.
You’ll notice that Clif Bar offers the best price too. Even though the next seller can deliver sooner, Amazon still chooses to award the Buy Box to the cheapest option (and the one with the best reviews).
The last factor, customer experience, is one of the weightiest when it comes to winning the Buy Box on Amazon. All the previous factors – pricing, availability and fulfilment – affect the overall customer experience. So how can you make purchasing your product a good experience?
There are many things about the customer experience that can influence your winning the Buy Box:
- Seller performance
- Time and experience selling on Amazon
- Shipment experience (speed, handling time, FBA)
You can check your overall performance in the section called Account Health. Here’s an example of what it looks like:
Watch out and keep these 3 rates down as Amazon itself says that they weigh more heavily on Buy Box status:
- Order defect rate, which is based on customer feedback, A-to-Z claims, and chargebacks
- Cancellation rate
- Late shipment rate
As you can see, the factors that weigh most heavily are the ones that are the most likely to result in a poor customer experience. Defects, cancellations, and late shipments are the exact opposite of what a customer expects from Amazon.
When a customer experiences these things, they lose trust and respect. It also reflects poorly on Amazon. Amazon won’t encourage the sale of a product like this and will eventually suppress the Buy Box.
Checking Your Performance and Share of the Buy Box
As we mentioned before, no one actually owns the Buy Box. It is constantly rotating between sellers. The seller with the largest percentage is the one that it will appear for. If you log into Seller Central and check your Business Reports, under Detail page sales and traffic, you’ll be able to see how large a share of the Buy Box you own.
To check the offer winning the Buy Box, you can check the Manage Pricing page and have a look at the Buy Box Price column.
Here is a real-life example:
You can see the column that says Featured Offer (Buy Box) Percentage. Ideally, you’d like it to be 100% but that won’t always be the case. This could be for a number of reasons.
What Happens if your Buy Box is Suppressed?
So what happens if your Buy Box is suppressed? Well, a customer will no longer be able to add your product to their cart without a few extra steps. They’ll have to go back through the long list of other sellers and decide from there.
Amazon could suppress your listing for a few reasons including:
- Pricing too high
- Having an incomplete listing (or even being in the wrong category)
- Poor shipping metrics (not using FBA)
There is some talk about Amazon suppressing the Buy Box if it finds the same product at a lower price elsewhere. Amazon wants to be the marketplace with the lowest prices. Period. If it finds out that the same product is being sold at a cheaper price on Walmart, for example, it will suppress the Buy Box. More on the complications of selling on Amazon in this Inc.com article.
Whatever the reason for a suppressed Buy Box, you’ll need to work on creating a higher-quality listing and experience for your customers so that Amazon takes you seriously again. It’s nothing personal, Amazon is just trying to protect its customers and its image.
Winning the Buy Box depends on many factors, but the most important among them has a lot to do with the customer experience. Here are the most important things to focus on when trying to win it:
- Maintaining competitive pricing of your products is key to keeping your customers happy and getting the first option for the Buy Box
- Managing inventory correctly – having your product stocked and available for purchase ensures that things don’t go wrong, and you disappoint your customers
- Lightning-fast, competitively priced shipping. Basically, Prime if it’s available. The faster your product arrives to the customer at the best price, the better your chances of winning the Box
- Focusing on these things will help increase overall customer experience, making both Amazon and you, the seller, happy