$145 billion worth of Amazon sales came through the Buy Box in 2017. That means nearly 82% of Amazon’s total $178 billion went to the Buy Box winner.
If you want to see rapid success on Amazon, you need to win the Buy Box.
But the rules to “win the game” are constantly changing, so how do you keep up? What do you need in order to win the Buy Box, boost your seller reputation, and grow your revenue?
What is the Buy Box?
The Buy Box is on the right-hand side of a product listing, where Amazon customers can add a product to their shopping cart. The Buy Box also provides details about quantity, pricing, and shipping.
Customers can also find a list of “other sellers on Amazon” here. Multiple sellers will offer the same product on Amazon with different prices and ship dates.
However, consumers rarely compare sellers. They automatically purchase from the seller that wins the Buy Box. Consumers will usually only look at the “other sellers” list if they’re buying a used product or want to check for a lower price.
In most cases though, consumers see the Buy Box winner as Amazon’s top pick—so it’s the consumer’s trusted top pick too.
While the Buy Box used to go to just one winner (usually the seller with the lowest price), Amazon now has a more complex system for selecting the Buy Box winner. The Buy Box seller also rotates, so multiple sellers can get a piece of revenue. For example, one week you might be the Buy Box seller, but the next week your competitor is—even if you haven’t changed any of your metrics or optimization.
This means that the “Buy Box game” is fairer than it used to be. But it also means it’s harder to beat the system and consistently win those critical sales.
So what can you do to get yourself ahead with the Buy Box?
You need to be eligible to win the Buy Box. In order to qualify, you need to have a Professional Seller account and meet certain performance-based requirements. You can see if you are eligible by clicking on the “Inventory” tab, selecting “Manage Inventory” and “Preferences.” You’ll see “Buy Box Eligible” in the Column list.
Keep in mind that Amazon always wins the Buy Box over third-party sellers. So, if Amazon as a seller is one of your competitors, you will have a lot of trouble winning the sale. That’s why a lot of sellers choose to sell private label. If you own your brand, you’re guaranteed that Amazon won’t start selling your products unless they purchase it from you (as a Vendor). A private label gives you more control over your listings and sales.
One of the most important factors—if not the most important—in winning the Buy Box is fulfillment. Amazon wants to know that you will deliver quick, reliable service—especially when it comes to shipping.
FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) sellers tend to win over FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant). This is because Amazon trusts its own logistics process to have faster shipping and on-time delivery than the Merchant.
Amazon scores each seller based on shipping method, on-time delivery, and inventory depth. Amazon wants to make sure customers are getting their products when promised, and FBA tends to beat FBM sellers in terms of numbers.
In some cases, SFP (Seller-Fulfilled Prime) sellers also have a chance of winning the Buy Box as long as the seller has strong performance metrics. Learn more about using FBA and SFP to win customers here.
Note: Offering free shipping also gives you a significant boost to win the Buy Box.
3. Seller metrics
Your “standing” as a seller tells Amazon how credible and reliable you are. The better your ranking, the greater your chance of winning the Buy Box.
This includes logistics metrics like:
Shipping time: free two-day shipping or less is prioritized
Order defect rate: comprised of negative feedback rating, service chargeback rate, and A-Z Guarantee claim rate; defective rate should be below 1%
Valid tracking rate: how many of your packages have valid tracking numbers; should be at least 25%
Late shipment rate: the number of orders shipping later than expected ship date; should be below 4%
Delivered on time rate: percentage of orders delivered by the estimated date; should be 97% or more
The Buy Box cares a lot about logistics. The faster and more efficient your shipping, the more likely you’ll win the Buy Box. Amazon wants its customers to trust that Amazon will deliver on its promises—and that means you have to deliver.
Other important logistics metrics include:
Inventory depth: large inventory with good stock history tells Amazon you have the capacity to fill orders
Condition: the buy box only shows items in “new” condition, not used
Sales volume: higher sales volume, especially recent sales, shows you are credible and relevant
Cancellation and refund rate: shows how frequently you cannot fulfill an order; should be lower than 2.5%
Amazon also considers customer service metrics:
Feedback rating: the feedback score from last month, 3 months, and year; most recent feedback holds the most weight
Feedback count: the number of buyers who have given feedback; a higher count is better
Customer response time: quickness of response on Amazon’s messaging system; should reply to at least 90% of customer messages within 24 hours
Product reviews also matter. They play a role in your seller rank, which plays a role in your ability to win the Buy Box… which, in turn, further impacts your ability to make sales and get product reviews.
A large number of positive reviews is the only way to win the Buy Box. If and when negative reviews happen, be prepared to deal with them head-on.
Although you need a competitive price in order to win the Buy Box, the lowest bidder is no longer the winner. In fact, the price likely isn’t even one of the most influential factors for the algorithm.
Nevertheless, if you and a competitor have similar shipping methods and seller metrics, the price will be a determining factor. Amazon wants to ensure their customers are always paying the most reasonable price while receiving the greatest service.
Keep in mind that Amazon generally looks at landed price, which includes shipping and VAT (in the UK). This takes into account not only your listed price but also any costs for shipping.
Where you are in relation to your customer will impact your ability to win the Buy Box. If a competitor with similar selling metrics and price is geographically closer to the customer, they will likely have faster shipping—which means they’ll likely win the Buy Box.
This is another reason you want to consider using FBA. If you use FBA, your products can be in warehouses across the nation, so location doesn’t have to be a variable in your ability to win the sale.
Ultimately, you need to prove to Amazon that you are a reliable seller who can fill orders and provide top-notch customer service. It’s important to keep an eye on your metrics, reviews, and pricing to ensure you are eligible to win the Buy Box. Although the Buy Box winner rotates, it will favor you if you know how to deliver on your promises and consistently give a great customer experience.