Winning the Buy Box on Amazon.com in 2018
Amazon generates over $100 billion in sales every year.
Of those conversions, over 90% occur using Amazon’s buy box. If you sell on Amazon and want to increase sales online, understanding and optimizing the Buy Box is pivotal.
Retailers featured on Amazon’s buy box for product pages sell more products, so the natural question is: How can you get your products featured in the buy box?
Jump to a Section:
- What is the Buy Box?
- Why is the Buy Box Important?
- Where is the Buy Box on Amazon?
- Who is Eligible for the Buy Box?
- How to Get Featured in the Buy Box
- Other Tips for Getting the Buy Box
What is the Buy Box?
The Buy Box on Amazon is the number one factor for increasing conversions for Amazon sellers.
Amazon.com is an online marketplace, which aggregates products from itself and 3rd party sellers (selling on Amazon). To break it down really simply, think about shopping at Target- you can purchase detergent from Tide, Downy or Target itself, all within Target.
Each product on Amazon has its own product page, which compiles the same products from different sellers. For Amazon sellers, this means getting visibility on Amazon’s product pages is a significant challenge, and differs from optimizing other online sales channels.
Why is the Buy Box Important?
The Buy Box can truly make or break a sale.
Because of its prominent right-side placement and eye-catching color, the Buy Box is the most standout part of the product detail page. It sets a listing apart from all the rest of the merchants’, and it allows customers to add a product quickly and easily to their shopping carts without even thinking twice. When a user clicks the “Add to Cart” button, they’re buying from one merchant and one merchant only – the Buy Box winner.
In addition to being prime real estate for increasing sales, getting placement in the Buy Box also shows customers that you are Amazon recommended; that you can be trusted to provide high-quality customer service and top-notch products.
Where is the Buy Box on Amazon?
The Buy Box is the little blue box on the right side of each product detail screen on Amazon. It may seem unimportant as a shopper, but to a merchant, it’s prime real estate. It means the most visibility, the most searches, and the most sales.
Essentially, the buy box is the Holy Grail of Amazon.
As a merchant, winning the top spot in the Buy Box means you get premium placement. It means users can quickly add your product to their shopping cart with just the quick click of one easy-to-spot button.
But that’s not even the best part.
The most valuable thing about the Buy Box is that it’s exclusive; it defaults to just one very special merchant. If you’re the featured Buy Box merchant and a customer uses that handy dandy “Add to Cart” button (which most do), they’re buying from you! It’s literally the best seat in the house. Unfortunately, only one vendor gets the coveted Buy Box placement, and it’s pretty difficult to nab.
Who is Eligible for the Buy Box?
To be eligible for display in the Buy Box, merchants must have Amazon’s Featured Merchant status. This means they are a subscription-based Pro Merchant who has exceeded performance expectations. All in all, criterion considered includes:
- Order Defect Rate (this is based on feedback, claims, and chargebacks)
- Performance metrics
- Customer service quality (including shipping speed, pricing, fulfillment options, etc.)
- Length of time on Amazon
All Featured Merchants are eligible for placement in a product’s Buy Box, though only one will win the top spot. Usually, Amazon determines the winner by weighing price, availability, volume and more. Because factors that determine Featured Merchant and Buy Box statuses are always in flux, the winner of the Buy Box may change from time to time. So if you don’t land that spot right away, you still have a chance to do so in the future. Keep working at your customer service, pricing, shipping and more until you’re up to standards.
Featured Merchants who don’t get placement in the Buy Box also may be listed in the “More Buying Choices” area under the Buy Box. Though this area is not as prominent as the Buy Box, it does offer more visibility than most searches.
How to Get Featured in the Buy Box
Winning the Buy Box is an ongoing process where sellers earn a share of the Buy Box or rent the Buy Box for a period of time.
The elements which influence how long and how often you rent the Boy Box are the variables you can change and optimize to increase your Buy Box sessions and sales.
Though it may seem difficult, placement in the Buy Box is not out of reach. Selling expert Matthew Ogborne has determined a formula that virtually guarantees a Buy Box win, as long as you have Featured Merchant status and good performance metrics.
Put simply, the formula requires you to take your product’s lowest selling price currently on Amazon, subtract 2.7 percent, and then subtract a penny more.
So, in summary: Lowest price – 2.7% – $.01 = Buy Box win.
Listing your product for this price will likely land you the coveted Buy Box spot, as long as you meet the required performance standards. If you’ve had a lot of A-to-Z claims, shipping delays, customer complaints or refunds, the formula may not work. You need to be in high standing with Amazon and have Featured Merchant status to win the Buy Box – no matter what your price is.
Other Tips for Getting the Buy Box
To put your company in a good spot for Buy Box eligibility, it’s important to focus on providing great customer service.
Ship items correctly and on time, respond to questions quickly and keep your inventory up-to-date and well-stocked.
You want great feedback from each and every one of your customers.
Here are some factors that can increase your share of Buy Box eligibility, listed in order of importance:
Fulfillment Method (FBA)
The method through which sellers package, ship, sort and send Amazon purchases
Amazon allows merchants to use their own fulfillment, or fulfillment providers to sell on Amazon. A third popular choice that sellers can choose for some or all of their items is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
FBA- Fulfillment by Amazon. Amazon’s fulfillment service, a paid option for Amazon sellers who do not wish to bother with, or cannot handle fulfillment. Learn more about FBA here.
Many sellers who are looking to win the Buy Box choose to use Fulfillment by Amazon(FBA). Amazon is more likely to highlight its own products and services on the marketplace.
Amazon rates FBA with perfect scores for the following variables which influence the Buy Box:
- Shipping Time
- On-Time Delivery Rate
- Inventory Depth
Landed Price (lowest price)
Keep your prices and shipping costs affordable. Eligibility for the Buy Box doesn’t just take into account the price of the product itself, but it considers the entire price, shipping and handling included. Ensure your prices are low and consistent with other merchants on the site.
One of the major draws of Amazon is it’s low prices. The Walmart of the web, Amazon encourages merchants to compete with one another for the Buy Box with one of the major variables for Buy Box placement as pricing. Amazon calculates pricing based on the total product amount- including shipping.
Amazon sellers are constantly tweaking product prices to edge one another out on the Buy Box. To determine what products you want to own the Buy Box for- check out the Buy Box winning price:
On the Manage Inventory page, click the Preferences button, and select Show when available for the current Buy Box winning price. Buy Box winning prices are displayed for “New” condition listings only.
Landed Price Variables: Determine whether you can afford to own the Buy Box current price by considering your:
- Amazon Seller fees
- Return cost
- Amazon budget
Remember other Amazon sellers, and Amazon will continue to change product pricing to win the Buy Box. Pricing manipulation is a constant battle to the bottom- one Amazon can afford more than most third party sellers.
Seller Rating (higher than 98%)
Seller Rating- Customer experience score based on seller performance including feedback, shipping performance, and customer response rate.
More reliable sellers are a better option for consumers. They are more likely to get products on time, of high quality, and administer superior customer service.
Amazon calculates merchants’ Customer Metrics based on:
- Perfect Order Performance (POP)- Percent of orders that are perfectly accepted, processed, and fulfilled
- Order Defect Rate (ODR)- Percent of orders which generated negative feedback or A-Z guarantee refund
- Pre- Fulfillment Cancellation Rate- How much of your products are in stock to sell on Amazon
- Last Ship Rate- Number of orders which are confirmed after the promised shipment date (3+ days beyond projected shipping)
- Percent of Orders Refunded- The number of orders consumers refund to your store is an indicator of inaccurate stock or faulty products
Amazon Advertisers seller Performance Targets or where Amazon encourages sellers to be with customer service (on threat of Amazon seller removal) are aggressive:
- Less than 1% Order Defect Rate
- Less than 2.5% Pre-Fulfillment Cancel Rate
- Less than 4% Late Shipment Rate
Amazon’s strict fulfillment standards also impact price competitiveness as quicker shipping often costs more, and can increase the total cost of items sold on Amazon.
The seller rating is a non-public score that Amazon sellers can view in seller central.
Shipping Time (2 days or less)
Sellers shipping impacts Buy Box ownership and overlaps with pricing and availability. Amazon calculates this based on:
- Projected shipping time and actual shipping time
For time-sensitive and perishable items, shipping varies, but Amazon generally weight shipping based on the following time frames:
- 0-2 Days
- 3-7 Days
- 8-13 Days
- 14+ days
Feedback Score (100%)
Feedback Score– Customer Experience score
Amazons Feedback Rating is constantly updating based on aggregate reviews from Amazon orders and constitutes an average of order rating. The Feedback Rating is comprised of orders from the preceding 365 days but is weighted heavier for orders from the last 90 days.
Here is a look at how different variables that impact seller ratings:
|Amazon Order Issue||Score Points|
|Order Fulfilled without issue||100|
Buy Box eligibility is influenced by which Feedback Rating bracket you fall into, not just your Feedback rating.Feedback Buy Box groups are as follows:
|Amazon Seller Buy Box Group|
Amazon wants shoppers to find what they’re looking for. If your item is Out of stock, Amazon will get it from another seller.
“If you have no current stock for a product, you cannot win the Buy Box.”- Amazon
The more you can maintain product stock the more likely you can influence winning the Buy Box.
If you are selling on the Marketplace using your own fulfillment, be sure to have inventory management and fulfillment aligned so that your products are always in stock. Ideally, you’d want to do this for the majority of your inventory. However, at the bare minimum, this is something which you want to do for your best selling products.
For merchants using Fulfillment by Amazon, availability is determined as products which are in Amazon’s warehouse- not one’s which are in your warehouse or getting shipped to Amazon. Keep delivery time and fulfillment processing in mind when sending products to Amazon.
Update Stock Status
Keeping your inventory information up to date is just as important as actually having inventory available. If you tell Amazon a product is available, and you can’t fulfill an order you run the risk of incurring negative reviews- a major factor for seller ratings.
Other Factors That Influence Buy Box Eligibility:
- Order Defect Rate (0%)
- Late Shipment Rate (0%)
- On-Time Delivery (100%)
- Customer Response Time (fewer than 12 hours)
- Tracked Delivery Rate (100%)
- Feedback Count (the higher the better)
- Refund Rate (0%)
- Inventory Depth (the lower the better)
- Cancellation Rate (0%)
You can also increase your chances of winning the Buy Box by choose Fulfillment by Amazon.
This means that you allow Amazon to house, pack and ship your products. Because Amazon has physical control over your inventory, has seen it, verified it and will use its resources to fulfill an order, it can better guarantee its quality and services.
Therefore, choosing Fulfillment by Amazon could put you over the edge and help you win the Buy Box.
With standout placement and easy purchasing functions, scoring a spot in an Amazon Buy Box can mean huge things for your product performance. It can mean the difference between making a sale and sitting on the sidelines while another merchant does.