Amazon’s goal has always been to put customers first. For this reason, the E-Commerce giant has several mechanisms in place to ensure customers get the best possible shopping experience. One of these mechanisms is the Amazon Buy Box. Amazon makes an average of $17 million in sales per hour, and over 82% are through the Buy Box. Buy Box is a type of placement. It’s the last box the consumer sees on a product page, where they click ‘Buy’. Every seller on Amazon (FBA or FBM) has to meet performance requirements to compete for this placement.
In this article, we will offer sellers an explanation of how it works, and how Amazon Buy Box Eligibility works.
What is the Amazon Buy Box?
Firstly, what is the Amazon Buy Box?
According to Amazon’s official description on their Help page, “The Buy Box is the display on a product detail page with the Add to Cart button that customers can use to add items to their shopping carts. When one of your listed items appears as the default on the product page, you “win” the Buy Box, increasing your chances of selling that item.”
Where is the Buy Box?
Amazon’s description doesn’t really tell us enough. Where is the Buy Box? What does it look like?
To paint a more clear picture, this is the Amazon Buy Box on a listing for a kitchen knife:
When a shopper clicks “Buy Now” in the Buy Box, they are buying from 1 seller only. In this case, the seller is Utopia Deals (as displayed in “Sold By” beneath the Buy Now button). This means that the seller who wins the Buy Box, is the one who gets the sale.
This does not mean other sellers do not feature on this page. They still show up, but they appear in a much smaller box, right beneath the Buy Box:
The box is barely a fraction of the size of the Buy Box. You can only see all the sellers once you click on “Details” and expand it. It’s obvious to any seller which “Buy” or “Add to Cart” button a seller will be clicking. This is why it’s so important for Amazon sellers to not only become Buy Box eligible, but also win the Buy Box.
What is the Buy Box Mechanism?
Every single seller with an offer on an ASIN is in the competition to win the Buy Box for it. When 1 seller ultimately wins, they get ALL the sales from when customers click “Buy Now”. Doesn’t sound fair, does it? That’s why Amazon changes the Buy Box winning seller anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour. This ensures that 1 seller doesn’t win the box permanently.
If a Buy Box winner’s performance metrics for the ASIN change, they can lose the Buy Box. For example, if the seller raises their price, or goes out of stock, they might lose their Buy Box to a competitor. Why does this happen? It all links back to Amazon’s customer-centric mechanisms. If there is another seller with a better price for a customer, they will win the Buy Box.
A customer will not notice this happening. Amazon ensures each customer sees only one Buy Box winner per hour. This means customers cannot access any history of past Buy Box winners. This makes a neat mechanism for Amazon. Amazon can continually generate sales by keeping sellers in rotation without the customer ever being the wiser.
This is why winning the buy box is so important. A high-performing seller can stay the Buy Box winner for 70% of the day. Meanwhile, a low-performing one might get less than 5% of the day. This means that high-performing sellers will get 70% of the sales for that entire day! Winning the Buy Box is therefore absolutely essential.
Amazon Buy Box Algorithm
So how does Amazon decide which seller wins the Buy Box? And, how does it decide when to rotate between sellers?
What Makes a Good Seller?
Unfortunately, no one knows the exact algorithm behind Amazon’s Buy Box. Amazon doesn’t release information about its algorithms publically, but remember that Amazon’s goal is always to offer the best product to customers to ensure a sale…
For this reason, the Buy Box algorithm is pretty simple, and only has 3 steps at its most basic level:
- Check if the seller meets all the requirements and is eligible for Buy Box
- Assign weights to each performance metric/variable based on product and category
- Break down and analyze each eligible seller’s performance relative to each other
There are numerous seller performance variables this algorithm likely considers. Some obvious ones would be – price, OOS rate, Prime delivery, shipping costs, reviews, rankings, sales history & seller rating. Thankfully, step 2 means that even if you lose Buy Box to a competitor for one product, you can still beat them in another category.
What about Amazon Brands?
The Buy Box algorithm itself doesn’t change for anyone, but it does create an unfair advantage for Amazon’s own brands. Those variables we mentioned previously? If it’s Amazon Retail or Amazon Basics, the Buy Box considers the product to have 100% perfect metrics. This means it’s basically impossible to win a Buy Box for a product Amazon itself is also selling!
Yes, this is extremely unfair but unfortunately, it comes with the territory. It’s like competing with any other big brand, they will always have better performance metrics. Better metrics that can guarantee them a Buy Box win.
Pro Tip- this is why it’s best not to sell the same products Amazon Brands sell.
What if There’s No Buy Box?
This is a pretty rare occurrence, but sometimes no sellers win the Buy Box.
Once again, this is extremely rare. This usually happens when no sellers meet the minimum requirements for Buy Box eligibility. Or, it happens if every single seller has very poor performance metrics. Another possibility is that if every seller’s offer price is higher than list price… This is usually due to an inaccurate list price.
If this happens to you, you can contact Seller Support and get the list price removed. This will allow every single sellers price to be valid again, and then sellers can start to appear in the Buy Box.
How to Become Buy Box Eligible
Now that you know what Amazon Buy Box is, and how it works. How do sellers become “Buy Box eligible”?
According to Amazon’s help page, if you’re an Amazon FBA seller you are automatically eligible. Make note of this if you’re a new Amazon Seller – Amazon FBA already gives you a step up over FBM sellers! For sellers who do not have their products fulfilled by Amazon, there are 3 requirements:
- Sellers must have a Professional Selling Account. An individual seller account is not eligible for Buy Box.
- Good Account Health is necessary; sellers must have low Order Defect Rate (ODR), Cancellation Rate & Late Shipment Rate.
- Sufficient order volume for all products is required, this will vary based on product category.
Once you meet the requirements, you get Buy Box eligibility very fast!
You can check your Buy Box eligibility status very easily. Sign into your Seller account, and go to the Manage Inventory section under Inventory tab. Then, use the Preferences button in the top right to customize your columns. Check “Buy Box Price” and “Buy Box Eligible” to see which ASINs are eligible for Buy Box.
You can also see your Buy Box win percentage for the past 2 days on the Seller Central home page.
If you click into that tab, you can see metrics for 30 days ago for each of your marketplaces.
If you click on the percentages displayed you will be redirected to the Pricing Dashboard for more insights.
How to Win the Amazon Buy Box
Being Buy Box eligible doesn’t automatically win you the Buy Box. There’s a lot of variables that influence Buy Box win percentages. There also some steps sellers can take to increase the likelihood of winning Buy Box.
Variables that Impact Buy Box Share
Firstly, it’s important to be aware what performance variables impact Buy Box share, and what level of impact they have.
Here is a list of the factors from most impactful to least impactful:
These variables directly contribute to Account Health. A good guideline is to keep Account Health Rating in the “Good” range, this will ensure you win the Buy Box more frequently. Sellers can check their Account Health details in Seller Central under the Performance tab.
Tips for Winning the Buy Box
Based on the variables mentioned before, the way to win Buy Box is quite straightforward. Some helpful tips include:
Use Amazon FBA
Using Amazon FBA as a fulfillment method automatically takes care of 5 performance variables for you:
- Fulfillment Method ▶As said before, Amazon FBA products are more likely to win Buy Box than Amazon FBM products
- Shipping Time ▶ FBA products automatically get Prime delivery, Amazon ensures your shipping time is 2 days or less
- Late Shipment Rate ▶ Amazon values customer satisfaction, so FBA products generally have low Late Shipment Rates
- Valid Tracking Rate ▶ All FBA orders provide customers with full and valid tracking information
- On-Time Delivery ▶ Amazon prides itself on On-Time Delivery, in 2019 they had 98.9% OTDR. FBA sellers can rest easy putting their products in Amazon’s hands.
Amazon FBA already takes care of 5 out of 13 factors, that’s nearly 40% of what influences Buy Box winning probability. We highly recommend sellers go with Amazon FBA instead of FBM for their key products.
Use Repricing Software
Sellers can use automated repricing software, such as Alpha Repricer, to continuously respond to ever-changing competitor prices. The software will alert you on changes in competitor’s prices and allow you to keep up and price match. This takes care of the performance variable Landed Price, which has high impact on Buy Box win percentage.
Sellers can use rule-based repricing methods using these softwares, which is much quicker than manual repricing. Software can allow sellers to react to price changes in real-time. Two other examples of popular repricing softwares for Amazon are FeedVisor and Repricer Express.
Set up Feedback Requests
Using external software or leveraging social media to set up a Seller Feedback or Product Review Requesting system is unbelievably helpful. This can allow you to optimize 2 performance variables:
- Feedback Score ▶ A system in place for feedback requests can rapidly increase your feedback score
- Feedback Count ▶ More reviews and rankings will lead to a higher feedback count, which is factor that puts you above your competitor in terms of product attractiveness
Amazon’s customer-first business model places high weight on reviews, ranks and overall seller ratings. Amazon also offers its own review generating programs such as the Amazon Vine Program that all brand-registered sellers can apply for easily.
Prioritize Customer Satisfaction
Take a leaf out of Amazon’s book and prioritize customer satisfaction above all else. This will take care of the remaining 5 performance variables:
- Order Defect Rate ▶ Conduct factory & warehouse inspections regularly to avoid shipping customers defective products
- Cancellation Rate ▶ Ensure your product descriptions are accurate and detailed to avoid any order cancellations by confused customers
- Refund Rate ▶ Ensure your product quality is up to par, refunds are very detrimental to account health
- Out of Stock Rate ▶ Use external software or develop in-house software for accurate inventory management to ensure a low OOS rate for customers
- Customer Response Time ▶ Establish systems or use third party software especially for responding to customer inquiries within the 24 hour mark
By valuing your customer, and having a quality over quantity mindset, you can take care of another 5 performance variables with ease. While these have low impact on Buy Box Win %, they might be what makes you 1% more attractive than a fierce competitor.
How Buy Box Affects Amazon PPC
Did you know you can only create Amazon PPC ads if you’ve won the Buy Box?
That’s right. Even if it’s your own ASIN, your own listing – you can’t run an ad on it without Buy Box. This makes sense because a customer clicks on a sponsored product expecting to be able to purchase that same product. If you have an ad, but the seller beneath the “Buy Now” button isn’t you… You’ll be paying for an ad that never generates a sale! This is yet another reason why Buy Box eligibility and winning Amazon Buy Box is vital.
In 2021, without Amazon PPC it’s near impossible to remain on the first page organically. Unless you have a very unique product, you have to invest in Amazon PPC. Even sellers with products that rank high organically start off with Amazon PPC ads to launch their products. Getting the top ad spot gets you sales, which generate rankings & reviews. These rankings and reviews then contribute to your organic rank.
A good Amazon PPC Management Software can automate most of the bidding process for you. Still, you can’t do any of that without a Buy Box! Amazon PPC truly is essential to having a successful Amazon store in 2021. So, make sure you win the Buy Box!
All in all, Buy Box is the most important mechanism on Amazon. Without winning Buy Box, it’s incredibly hard for sellers to make a sale. We hope our article has provided enough insights for you to ensure you consistently win the Amazon Buy Box!
If you have questions or insights to share, please feel free to post them via the comments section. Please also consider joining our Facebook Group where we discuss any questions you may have about running an Amazon business.
We are SellerMetrics, our Amazon PPC Software helps Amazon sellers, brands, KDP Authors and agencies navigate Amazon Advertising PPC via bid automation, bulk manual bid changes, and analytics.