What Winning the Buy Box Means For Amazon Sellers
What is the Buy Box?
An overview of the basics.
The Buy Box appears on Amazon product pages on the right-hand side 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. This creates competition for sellers who sell the same product. 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.
- Applies only to sellers with a professional plan
- The winner of the Buy Box can rotate every 15-60 minutes
- The same seller can continue to win the Buy Box or it may swap between different sellers
- Product price and Seller Rating plays a big role in your chances of winning the Buy Box
Competing for the Buy Box on Amazon
What does it take to win?
Amazon strives to provide their shoppers with the best online shopping experience, therefore they use the “Seller Rating” as a method for evaluating a seller’s performance. Sellers with a good Seller Rating have a better chance of winning the Buy Box. The seller rating measures statistics such as your order defect rate, feedback score, on time delivery, response time, and customer feedback.
By having 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.
FBA or FBM
The fulfillment method you choose for your products to be shipped has a very high impact on the ability to win the Buy Box. If you choose Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) over Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) you have a higher chance of winning the Buy Box. Seller-Fulfilled Prime Shipping also allows you to earn the Prime badge and can also boost your chances above sellers without Prime qualified shipping.
How to Win the Buy Box
The factors that determine your eligibility:
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.