How to Win The Amazon Buy Box

A lot of things factor into winning Amazon’s Buy Box and understanding how to win it can be a game changer for your Amazon business. But how do you win it? And for those of you who are new to Amazon, what is the buy box anyways?

What Is The Amazon Buy Box?Where is the Buy Box Amazon OperationROI

The Amazon Buy Box is the box that appears on an Amazon product details page with the information allowing you to purchase that item from that seller with an “Add to Cart” button. It allows customers to place a product directly into their cart without sorting through the prices from multiple sellers. It creates a competition for sellers who sell the same product, as the buy box shows the best product for a customer to purchase.  This means only one seller will “win” the Buy Box at any one time, and winning the Boy Box can make a huge difference in your product sales. In short, it is the simplest route for purchasing a product.

How Does The Amazon Buy Box Work?

Firstly, the Amazon Buy Box only applies to sellers that are part of the professional sellers plan so if you are interested in the Buy Box you will need to look into joining the professional plan.

Basically, the buy box will show the best suggested product for a customer to purchase. Amazon determines this by having sellers meet performance-based requirements, because if your product goes within the buy box, it will be very likely that it will increase the sales for that product.

Competing For The Buy Box

Not everyone can have their products in the buy boxes, only the best offers, or what Amazon decides is the best product, will be shown. Sometimes you will be competing with Amazon itself in selling a product. Amazon comes into the game with a perfect seller rating, because it is their website and they pride themselves on customer service. You may also be competing with established sellers who have a long history of sales and usually have a high account rating as well. Be sure to measure your competition.

Amazon has not provided an exact road map to winning the Buy Box, but they do suggest that price, seller metrics and order volume all play a role. This however, has caused many sellers to experiment and compete in different ways which has helped us figure out the different factors that could increase your ability to win the Buy Box. Here is our Buy Box Cheat Sheet for helping sellers win the Buy Box.

Advertising Boost

A secret that helps boost your chances of winning the Buy Box is advertising on Amazon. By paying for Sponsored Product Ads you can bump your products to appear on the first page of search results, therefore you will instantly increase traffic on your product page increasing your chances of consumers buying from you. Plus, your ad will only show up when you are winning the Buy Box so you are only paying when someone is already interested in your specific product and on that product page. Even if your product already shows up organically in the first page of search results, having a Sponsored Product Ad will double it’s appearance on the first page, making it more likely that a customer will choose your product over others.

Ways to Win the Buy Box

The idea behind the Buy Box is that for every eligible product, an eligible seller wins it based on a complicated algorithm set forth by Amazon. The winner of the Buy Box can rotate every 15-60 minutes.

The same seller can win the Buy Box back to back, or it may swap between different sellers. For a single customer the same seller will show up in the Buy Box each hour in order to allow them enough time to shop around and come back to purchase.

Even though Amazon’s algorithm isn’t public, it is known that a seller wins based on a multitude of factors. Below we’ve sorted these factors out based on their High, Medium, or Low impact on winning The Amazon Buy Box.

Fulfillment Method

Very High Impact

How the seller ships the item sold has a very high impact on the status of potentially winning the Buy Box. There are three options available to sellers: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM), and Seller-Fulfilled Prime Shipping. The best way to win the Buy Box is to have FBA or Seller-Fulfilled shipping.

Fulfillment by Merchant  (FBM) means the merchant is responsible for all aspects of the order fulfillment process. There are lower fees associated with this method than FBA. You pay for the shipping costs, which can be passed onto the buyer plus a 15% commission fee you need to pay to Amazon depending on the product category. Also, you have more control of your products and the way they are stored and organized. On the contrary, in FBA your products are sharing space with other sellers’ products putting them at risk for getting mixed up and sent incorrectly. Your account could even be suspended if something like this were to happen, unless you “opt-out” of sharing storage space in FBA, which adds another fee.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) means that Amazon is in charge of fulfilling your orders and shipping your items. You basically send your items to Amazon and they store them in their warehouses. FBA is an amazing way to increase your chance to win the Buy Box due to the fact that the products are Prime eligible since Amazon is handling the shipping and fulfillment process. Since Amazon has a “Perfect Seller Rating” in categories such as shipping time and on-time delivery percentage, your Seller Rating increases in these areas as well. This method is also a good option if you as a seller do not want to deal with holding inventory in a warehouse, allowing you to reduce your overhead significantly. A higher sales volume thanks to your products being Prime eligible might allow you to qualify for volume discounts from your supplier, offsetting FBA fees further. Also, if there is a problem with Amazon’s fulfillment, it doesn’t hurt your seller rating.

Seller-Fulfilled Prime Shipping is relatively new. It allows you to earn the Prime badge while having the highest level of control over your products. It allows you to list your products as Prime eligible as long as you can fulfill an order from your warehouse within a given time frame and adhere to a high level of seller standards. Eligibility for this service is focused on being able to ship an order the same day it was placed and guarantee a two day delivery. While this might be a difficult feat for many businesses it brings great benefits as eligible vendors can get shipping discounts for meeting new volume thresholds.

Landed Price

High Impact

The total price plus shipping determines the “landed price”. The lower your price is compared to your competitors, the better chance you have to win the Buy Box.

Having a competitive price goes a long way in monopolizing the Buy Box. Amazon is always looking for the business that can offer the lowest price combined with the best customer service and Account Health Metrics. Amazon is trying to get the best deal to their customers so that they don’t look elsewhere. For this reason, having a competitive price point is essential.

It’s always a good idea to do your research on products before attempting to garner a share of the Buy Box. See what the winning price is and determine if you can match or beat that price. If you can’t, it might not be the product you want to list. If you’re close, and have outstanding metrics in other Buy Box factors, you still have a solid chance at winning, since Amazon doesn’t base everything solely on price.

This is why it’s so important to be selective with what you’re listing. If you’ve got a high margin product, you might have a lot more wiggle room with price and be able to be competitive. If it’s a low margin product, it might not be worth the investment, as you might actually lose money just to be competitive.

Perfect Order Percentage

High Impact

The overall percentage of perfect orders, or orders that are shipped on time and receive no negative feedback, charge back, or claims. Only the last 90 days are counted.

A high Perfect Order Percentage (POP) score goes a long way to owning the Buy Box. Amazon states that a POP does not experience negative feedback, a charge back, a late shipment, a refund, a cancellation, a buyer-initiated message, or an A-to-Z claim.

The ideal scenario is to keep a POP score of 95% or higher. Though this percentage may fluctuate by category, for the most part this is the standard.
If you aren’t meeting this number, you can download a report from the Account Health tab in Seller Central that can give a detailed breakdown of each of your products and their POP scores.

Shipping Time

High Impact

Time it takes to ship an item can affect your ability for your product to win the Buy Box. The shorter the shipping time the better. Best way to win the Buy Box is up to two days, and no more than 14 days.

There are a number of shipping concerns that can positively or negatively impact your Buy Box dominance. A late shipment can negatively impact on your POP score, so it’s important to make sure that your products are getting to your customers when you say they will.

The overall length of time from shipment to delivery makes a big difference. Ideally two days like Amazon Prime is the goal, but sometimes that’s just not realistic,  especially for seller-fulfilled shipments that might have to come from a faraway warehouse.

If you can’t make two days, the optimal goal should be seven days or less. This seems to be a window that many businesses can meet and one that Amazon considers to be a reasonable time-frame. Anything more than seven days and you run the risk of being passed over for a business that can deliver faster.

Order Defect Rate

Medium Impact

Negative feedback, A-Z claims, and charge backs can all negatively affect your ability to win the Buy Box. This is measured within the last 90 days as a percentage. The best would be having a 0% but to win the Buy Box, 1% or less is necessary.

If you notice your return rate increasing due to damages it might be time to switch shipping carriers. If your defect rate is high, it might be time to consider a different manufacturer or else consider dropping that product until you can get it up to code.

Feedback Score

Medium Impact

What your customers have to say about you and your products goes a long way in determining your marketplace success. The higher the score the better. Measured for the last 365 days.

If customers aren’t satisfied and leave negative feedback, it will hurt your feedback rating, which in turn will hurt your POP score.

Also, if your customers leave you positive feedback, it could boost your product a level which allows you to trump over the competition.

On Time Delivery

Medium Impact

Orders that were delivered on time can positively affect your possibility of getting on the Buy Box. The best way to win is having 100% of your orders delivered on time, but a 97% or higher is the standard.

You need to determine which of the three fulfillment methods works best for your business. If you are struggling to fulfill orders on time, you might consider switching to FBA and have Amazon handle the fulfillment process. Remember that when enrolled in FBA any negative feedback regarding shipping doesn’t affect your score.

Valid Tracking Data

Medium Impact

Tracking numbers provided for shipped orders. Best way to win the Buy Box is by providing tracking numbers on 100% of your orders, but you should be fine with a 95% rate or higher. This metric is tracked for the last 30 days.

This applies if you are shipping your own items. FBA and FBM both include tracking data for each shipment.

Late Shipment Rate

Medium Impact

Orders shipped past the expected delivery date can negatively affect your POP score. The best way to win the Buy Box is for 100% of your items to arrive on or before the expected delivery date, but Amazon allows between 97-100%.

If you are getting a low score in this category, consider either changing your expected delivery date by a couple of days, or try changing your fulfillment method to FBM or FBA.

Response Time

Medium Impact

How long it takes a seller to respond to a customer. This metric is measured in the last 90 days. The best way to win the Buy Box is to respond all inquiries in less than 12 hours, 24 hours the most.

Your response to customer inquiries is a crucial part of the selling process. Slow response times, or not responding at all can have a sizable impact on your Account Health metrics and cause you to fall behind the competition.

The goal should be to respond to inquiries as quickly as possible. In a perfect world, you’d respond within an hour to every customer concern. However, Amazon is a bit more lenient and allows for roughly 12-24 hours to receive high marks in this category. Even if you’ve missed out on this window, don’t neglect your customer questions!

Responding to customers is an immediate way to impact your Buy Box chances with minimal effort. As long as you are checking your account once a day, you should have zero problems. Ideally, check it twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, for best results.

Customer Feedback

Medium Impact

It’s also important to note that the quantity of feedback that you receive plays a role. The higher the percentage of customers that have given feedback the better.

If you’re a newer seller, you won’t have much feedback yet, which makes it even more crucial to optimize as many of the other categories as possible. In the short term, it will take time to build up customer responses as your sales grow.

To help with that process, Amazon allows you to solicit feedback from your buyers. To do so, use the Contact Buyer link in the Manage Orders tab of Seller Central. Then choose “Feedback Request” for the subject. You can also put a feedback request message directly on your packing slip.

Inventory

Low Impact

How often the seller runs out of stock. The lower the better, this is measured the last 90 days.

Updated inventory, and multiple shipping options help you be more Buy Box eligible.  A warehouse management system (WMS) like SkuVault can help by allowing you to count your inventory with the Replenishment Report feature, decrease mis-shipments with the Quality Control feature to ensure correct items are processed before delivery and check quantities across marketplace channels with the Quantity Updates feature.

These features benefit FBA and Seller-Fulfilled Prime merchants. The Replenishment Report reduces customer service issues like mis-ships, which are critical to deter because FBA and Seller-Fulfilled Prime merchants must send deliveries within two days. Quality Control also helps decrease mis-ships. Channel and shipping integrations included in a WMS increase success for FBA and Seller-Fulfilled Prime merchants because products are seen by multiple customer markets, rather than one sample of shoppers on Amazon. These factors increase rankings to win the Buy Box.

Cancellation Rate

Low Impact

How often a seller cancels an order also affects the ability to get your products on the Buy Box. Best way to win the Buy Box is having a 0% cancellation rate, but standard is less than 2.5%  in the last 90 days.

If you seem to be canceling orders due to inventory issues try a new WMS software, consider SkuVault to help manage your inventory more effectively.

Refund Rate

Low Impact

How often customers ask for a refund. The lower the better and this metric is calculated the last 90 days.

If one of your products has a high return rate, you need to look into it immediately. Is there a problem with the shipping? Is there a high defect rate? Are customers asking questions that you can’t answer? Look for the easy wins. If there isn’t an easy win for the product, it might be time to consider removing it from your account until a later date when you can rectify the problems.

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