Winning The Buy Box Is Crucial To Amazon Sellers Long-Term Success
Most Amazon sellers are also eCommerce brands. If you are an eCommerce retailer selling consumer products, you need to be selling on Amazon. The Amazon eco-system is very complex to navigate and you need experts to help you thrive as Amazon sellers on the marketplace. We are going to give you a few keys to winning the Buy Box on Amazon and profitably selling your products.
I don’t believe anyone envisioned how gigantic Amazon would be 21 years after their founding. And I don’t think anyone envisioned the Amazon Marketplace being such a powerful outlet for third-party Amazon sellers.
Essentially, there are 2 types of sellers on Amazon.
- Amazon itself, selling a tremendous assortment of products
- Third-party sellers, who list, market and sell their own products on the Amazon platform. An Amazon seller can choose to ship the products themselves (Fulfilled By Merchant) or have the product in the Amazon warehouse for Amazon to ship (Fulfilled By Amazon).
The Amazon marketplace:
- Generates over 45% of the units sold by Amazon.
- Has over 2 million Amazon sellers on the marketplace
- Amazon sells over 490 million products
- Generates more (40%) product searches than Google (35%).
- Represents 60% of ALL e-commerce sales.
What is the Buy Box
Amazon does not limit the number of Amazon sellers or the number of items a seller can carry. Many times a product will have multiple Amazon sellers. That creates competition for the sale amongst the sellers and Amazon itself.
When a customer arrives at the Product Detail page for an item, there is a box on the right side of the screen with the yellow “Add to Cart” button. That is the Buy Box. Amazon determines which seller the order will go to when the customer clicks add to cart.
There are many factors in the Amazon algorithm to determine which Amazon seller will win the Buy Box. We are going to lay out some of the more important keys to win the Buy Box.
Some Background on Buy Box Eligibility for Amazon Sellers
Over 80% of the Amazon Website sales go through the Buy Box. So it is very important for sellers to understand it.
The Buy Box algorithm cannot be manipulated just by adjusting your price.
The product for sale has to be in stock by the seller in order to be considered for the Buy Box.
Although price is important, it is not the primary driver of winning the Buy Box as you will see further on in this article.
Amazon “shares” the Buy Box with multiple Amazon sellers so as not to give it to any single seller for a given popular item.
Yes, as an Amazon seller you can beat Amazon to the Buy Box with the exception of the Books and downloadable media.
Only sellers with an Amazon Professional Seller account are considered for inclusion in the Buy Box.
In the rare case that no seller wins the Buy Box, then Amazon will send customers to the “See All Buying Options” page.
Only “New” items qualify for inclusion in the Buy Box. Used items have their own Buy Used Box when you chose the buy used option.
5 Key Metrics to Winning the Buy Box
Amazon ‘s algorithm for selecting the winner of the Buy Box begins by looking at specific criteria on the performance of all of the competitors for the specific considered product. The Amazon sellers with the best combination of all of these variables is chosen as the winner.
All things being equal, if there were 3 Amazon sellers of the same with the same price, then Amazon would rotate all three and each seller would g the Buy Box 33% of the time that particular day.
If there were 3 sellers and the first one had exceptional seller metrics but the price was 10% higher than the other two who had subpar metrics but a lower price, the first seller will win. Again, this is not just about the lowest price. Amazon is a customer-centric company who wants to deliver the best experience to the customer.
Fulfillment Method – Fulfilled By Amazon
There are 2 types of sellers on Amazon. Amazon itself and 3rd party vendors. Within the 3rd party vendors, there are Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfilled By Merchant (FBM)
Since Amazon wants to deliver the best customer experience, and that includes fulfillment of the order. Amazon considers its fulfillment to be one of the best in class and therefore FBA vendors rank very high for this most important metric.
In order for an FBM vendor to beat an FBA vendor for the buy box on a like item, they would need to have a considerably lower price and very high seller performance metrics. More often than not FBA vendors will win out.
Fulfillment Method – Seller Fulfilled Prime
Certain FBM merchants, who have a history of high performance on the marketplace, have been included in Amazon’s Seller Fulfilled Prime program. This allows them to list their products as Prime Eligible. The sellers need to adhere to strict shipping guidelines and must link up to Amazon Web Services shipping API, which provides the seller with Amazon’s preferred shipping rates. It also provides Amazon with the proper tracking of the packages.
As this is a very new addition to the marketplace, we can see that this is giving high performing FBM vendors the ability to win the Buy Box over an FBA vendor. Not every FBM vendor can enroll in Seller Fulfilled Prime. They must be very high performing vendors.
Total price includes shipping. Although on its own price is not the determining factor, it is a strong variable.
Price is the easiest of all of the Algorithm variables for the seller to control. However, a seller with a low-performance rating will only win the buy box with a significantly lower price against a competitor.
What we focus on with our clients is seller performance. Because this enables you to have a better chance of winning the buy box with a slightly higher price than someone who is less expensive on an item with a lower seller performance. Remember, Amazon is customer-centric so they would rather have the sale go to someone with a higher price who delivers better service to their customers.
Amazon provides every seller with a quick dashboard to track their seller performance in the areas that Amazon considers to be the most important for delivering the best service to their customers. This is an example of an account health screen for FBA and FBM sellers.
Because this is for an FBA account, the metrics for shipping are N/A. This is a very high-level view to illustrate the importance Amazon puts on seller performance in their algorithm. Inside your seller account, you can expand these areas to drill down deeper into the metric.
5. Feedback Count
Feedback count is the total number of buyers that have given the seller feedback. Not to be confused with product ratings. This particular metric is valuable for 2 reasons. First, it is used to accurately compare the Feedback Score between sellers with a long history and a lot of feedback, and newer sellers with a short history and less feedback.
Second, it is a key metric when all other metrics are equal, as sellers with a high score are more likely to win the Buy Box over a seller with a low score.
This is also found in your seller central account and should be monitored daily or at worst every 5 days. Here is an example for an account less than 90 days old.
Winning the Buy Box on Amazon is critical to developing a sustainable business for Amazon sellers on the platform. These are just 5 key metrics to winning the buy box. There are many more depending upon what type of seller you are. At Hound Dog Digital, we help all of our clients, like you, be successful selling profitably on Amazon. Price and price wars are not a game we like to play. We would much rather compete on quality and performance than on price. Let us show you how we can help you build your business on Amazon.