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Buy Box Demystified

It’s an interesting dilemma. Amazon has one page per product/ASIN. But there may be multiple sellers offering the same product. How to choose who is the ‘highlighted’ seller?

The ‘highlight’ is called the buy box, and the highlighted seller is known as ‘winning the buy box’. Winning the buy box has a HUGE impact on sales. Over 90% of purchases on Amazon are made through the buy box.

In this article we’ll take an in-depth look at the buy box and what you can do to win it.

How Does Amazon Pick The Winner?

Amazon uses AI to model what it thinks a user would do to choose a top buyer for a product. It does this by asking a series of questions.

  • Which offer has the best price?
  • Which offers are in stock and are Prime?
  • Which ships the fastest?
  • Does the seller have positive feedback and reviews?
  • Does the seller have enough stock to fufill the entire purchase?

It therefore goes without saying that you need to pay attention to these factors (and more) to win the box. We have another article about account health that can help.

Being Eligible for the Buy Box

To be eligible for the buy box you must have an account in good-standing Professional Seller account (if you aren’t a pro-seller then you can only win no-competition buy boxes).

If you’re a Professional seller, you can determine if individual items are eligible for the Buy Box by going to Manage Inventory in Seller Central, clicking Preferences, and selecting Buy Box Eligible in order to display eligibility in the Manage Inventory grid. 

What Steps Can You Take To Increase Your Chances of Winning the Buy Box?

Competitively Price Your Listings

Price is an important factor in winning the buy box – but it is not always about the lowest price! As stated above, price is just one factor in Amazon’s decision making process.

You should investigate Automated Pricing to help you in this area. Amazon has their own Automated Pricing Tool inside of Seller Central and there are also third-party companies that offer a similar service.

Seller Central offers a very lightweight repricing solution for sellers just starting out with repricing. Its Buy Box rule lets you price below the current Buy Box winner by any amount that you set. This works well if you are a smaller seller who has consistent competition and you know how much you have to beat them by in order to capture the Buy Box. 

Third-party rule-based pricing works in much the same way but typically gives you more options to choose from. You’ll often be able to change how you compete based on the competition’s fulfillment type or ratings, what to do when you’re the only seller for a product, and how to react when a product isn’t eligible for the Buy Box. 

Faster and or Free Shipping

We covered this extensively in another article, but, to summarize:

Fast – and ideally free – shipping increases conversions, average order value (AOV), marketplace benefits and customer loyalty.

The easiest way to offer great shipping options is to be use Amazon’s own FBA service. Being part of Amazon Prime also helps!

Focus On Customer Service

Amazon measures Customer service in a variety of ways, including (but not only)

  • Negative Feedback (note: not Product Reviews, but Seller Feedback)
  • A-to-Z Guarantee Claims
  • Credit Card Chargebacks

In Amazon-speak this is know as the Order Defect Rate.

You have to keep this under 1%. Over 1% and you risk account deactivation! Monitor your Seller Feedback and Product Reviews using Zonmaster to stay on top of this.

For the buy box specifically, keep your Cancellation Rate below 2.5%. And if you have decided to not use FBA, make sure your Late Shipment Rate is below 4%.

Keep Inventory Levels

Check your inventory levels to make sure you can fulfill orders. You can do this with either the Amazon Selling Coach or even inside of Zonmaster – where we are looking to launch inventory alerts in the near future!

There’s Not Always A Winner

In extreme cases, Amazon might remove the buy box from a listing page – even if there are sellers offering the item with it in stock. If you ever see that (as a buyer) you know that none of those sellers are what Amazon considers good! Don’t fall into this trap!

With an overwhelming percentage of sales happening through the Buy Box because of its prime page real estate and easy checkout flow, it should be one of the primary metrics you track for the health of your Amazon account. If you have the margin to play around with prices and you can use an automated repricer, you are going to have a leg up on the competition. But if you don’t, remember that there are many other factors at play in earning that coveted spot. Putting effort into improving all of them will go a long way towards securing your share of Buy Box wins.

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