What is the Buy Box and why it exists?
Amazon is currently the biggest selling platform in the world. The major reason for Amazon’s huge success is the company’s approach to buyers. No matter what, the buyer’s user experience is the highest priority. Now, why does it even matter in relation to the buy box? Because the sole existence of this feature is dedicated to making the site more transparent when it comes to product layout.
For example, if a potential customer searches a simple phrase “metal pan”, what they see is a huge range of many different metal pans. The key is the word different. One specific product (in this example metal pan with specified features) has a unique identification number called ASIN.
All the identical metal pans would fall under the same ASIN, therefore all metal pans that are identical would occupy only one position in the search results. Despite the fact, that these pans might be sold by several sellers, on the search page they would make for one little square representing this product for all of them.
If not for the Buy Box function, page layout would consist of lots of identical pans mixed up with other types of identical pans, which would make the page messy and hard to navigate. A user would need to search through several pages just to see what other types of metal pans there are. With this option, however, all identical products are stored under the same ASIN and the result page consists of unique types of searched product.
So if only one product is reflected in the search results for each ASIN, who actually sells that product when a customer clicks the buy button, knowing the fact that several sellers offer an identical product?
The answer is that a seller who won the Buy Box would be the one fulfilling the order and making a sale.
As you can see, under the Buy Now section there is information that this product is offered by other sellers (New & Used (3) from $16.55). As a buyer you have an option to actually see how many sellers offer this product, and for how much.
The reason why one seller is automatically assigned to the buy button, and others are left on the bottom of the screen to be found by more curious buyers, is that the Amazon’s algorithm (called Amazon’s A9) picks the best seller for that specific ASIN and priorities him over the others.
Sellers without the buy box are nearly invisible for clients interested in buying their products. It doesn’t take a genius to see how that’s problematic for developing a successful business in this marketplace.
How to be that one special seller who is picked up by Amazon’s algorithm, and elevated to the main seller status, in other words, how to win the Buy Box?
The first step is to be Buy Box-eligible. You can check what products qualify to be considered for the Buybox in your Seller Central Account, under Inventory > Manage Inventory.
There are certain conditions that a seller must fulfill in order to be Buy Box-eligible:
- Professional Seller Account
- Healthy Account Performance:
- Order Defect Rate – under 1%
- Late Dispatch Rate – under 4%
- Pre-fulfillment Cancellation Rate – under 2.5%
- Available Stock
You can check your Account Health in your Seller Central Account, under Performance > Account Health.
How to win the Buy Box
At the end of the day, Amazon is a business and like any other business, it needs to make money in order to thrive. The general rule of thumb when it comes to Amazon’s A9 algorithm choosing winners is: “The Buy Box will be awarded to a seller who is most likely to sell the product and provide customers with a great experience“.
The easiest way to win the Buy Box is to simply create a listing that would require a new ASIN, under which you’ll be the only seller. To do that your product would need to be original, unlike any other product sold on Amazon.
This seems like a tough item to find, but in reality, the slightest detail like color or size would need an original ASIN. This way you would be the only seller under a newly created ASIN, and therefore winning the buy box. Although there are ways to lose the buy box altogether despite being the only seller, of which will be more in this article.
If your product is already sold on Amazon, don’t lose your faith. There are still ways to win over Buy Box from already established sellers. Keep in mind that Amazon’s focus is always on a buyer’s satisfaction.
Price is not the most important factor
Therefore buy box is assigned to the seller that is picked up by algorithm as the best one. There are a few key elements that would make you stand out from your competition. First and foremost only new items are eligible for the buy box. If you’re selling used products (secondhand products) there is no chance you’ll be the first choice for a potential customer.
Another crucial factor is that Prime sellers are prioritized over all other sellers, so if you’re the only FBA (meaning that your orders are fulfilled by Amazon hence can be shipped immediately from a warehouse) under your ASIN (and you’re not screwing up other aspects important for the algorithm) you would win the buy box easily.
If your competition is FBA as well, make sure that you take care of the rest of the factors. The third very important measure is your account health. Remember that not only your products can be rated by buyers. You as a seller can receive feedback as well and if it’s not good, say goodbye to the #1 spot.
Seller Feedback makes a difference
Always make sure you’re working for good seller feedback. Even if your product is cheaper than your competition’s, if they’re rated better as a seller, according to the algorithm, they are safer to be recommended to
It doesn’t mean that price is not important. Price is actually the fourth element to take into account when fighting for customers on the Amazon marketplace. Two things to note here:
- First, set your pricing not too far from your competition. If your price is way too high, even FBM (sellers fulfilling orders themselves) accounts can take away your dreams of the Buy Box.
- Second, don’t change it too often. Frequent price fluctuation can be read by the algorithm as a sign of a dodgy seller. And what do we always have to keep in mind? For Amazon, clients’ satisfaction is the most important thing. If your price is changing too much, the algorithm would see this as an attempt to deceive potential buyers and de-rank you instantly.
If these key conditions are met you have a pretty good chance to
win over the Buy Box. If it happens that one seller under your ASIN has met all these elements as well, you can always differentiate your product by lowering the price, and if in all other criteria your stats are as good as
theirs, you should still be able to win the Buy Box.
Although, beware of participating in a price war. You’ll never know how dedicated to the cause the other sellers are. It may happen that they are able to lower the price even further because they bought it (or produced it) cheaper than you. In this case, the safer option would be setting the price the same as the other sellers and sharing the Buy Box.
Yes, it is possible to share it. You would then take turns – every time a sale occurs, the Buy Box would switch sellers making everyone happy (but not too happy since the sales are divided between the sellers). So to conclude, if you’re heading towards the ultimate goal of achieving the Buy Box position, four elements described above must all be in check.
Buy Box Suppression
Winning the Buy Box, however, is not only taking it from other sellers. It is also keeping it, which is to say, not letting other sellers take it from you. Heck, you can lose Buy Box to yourself! (it’s called Buy Box suppression – Amazon is analyzing millions of products in your category per hour so if your offer looks like an outlier in terms of the price, listing quality, and fulfillment quality you can be the only seller on the listing and still not be the winner. Example of suppression:
Price your products intelligently
Another serious threat is greed. Just kidding, the real threat is showing your greed to the algorithm, greed itself is a safety mechanism when selling on marketplaces 😉
Showing your greed to the algorithm would be increasing your price too much in times when your product sells best. Avoiding this sounds like an impossible task, because when sales increase, price usually follows, and how much is too much?
If the algorithm decides you’re too greedy you can lose the Buy Box even if you’re the only seller. To make sure this obstacle is not causing your BB spot, make sure you set up the price for every product on your listing in the way described below.
Your potential customer will see this listing like in the image below:
As you can see in product details, there are two boxes to type in the price. “Your price” and “Sell price”. In “Your price” box give the highest imaginable price that your product could be sold for, in the best
possible circumstances, and consider this an upper limit.
Then set up a “Sale price”, as the price that you will actually sell your product for. The one that enables you to compete with others. This way,
if your sales increase drastically you could change the price without algorithm suspecting anything.
Just make sure that you won’t cross your upper limit, and you’re safe. Keep in mind that your upper limit must be reasonable – consistent with the market price range in your category. And remember – do
not change it too often. The max. amount of changes should be no more than once in two weeks.
How to keep your Buy Box Spot
If your product is doing exceptionally well, copycats will come to take over your success. Sellers trying to sell under your listing (even if you are a Private Label seller) are called listing hijackers. It is important to always monitor the number of sellers under each ASIN you offer.
There are two ways to do it. You can do it manually – checking your listings every day and look for any changes in the number of sellers. If you spot one, investigate further.
This is a very time-consuming task to do, but if you wish to keep your Buy Box position it is crucial to keep your finger on the pulse. If you, however, don’t have time to spend on daily research or simply are not willing to spend this much time daily just to protect yourself, not to make more money, you can automate this job with an automated Amazon listing monitoring tools.
Amazon provides sellers with an unprecedented opportunity to scale their businesses, sell globally without having to worry about logistics, customer support, warehouse management, or client acquisition.
Sounds great, however, with every feature Amazon provides there is a price to pay. There are laws and rules you must obey in order to have a chance to tap into a whooping 320+ million active Amazon customer base.
Pleasing the algorithm is not an easy task, but it’s crucial for the success of your business. Securing your chances to sell your product is worth the effort. If you stick to tips in this article, you can significantly improve your chances for the Buy Box, and therefore strengthen your selling position.