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Amazon Buy Box: What It Is and How to Win It

Written By Zach Llewelyn

Key Takeaways

  • Winning the Buy Box is the most significant deciding factor in a seller’s success on Amazon
  • Sellers should understand the key metrics Amazon uses to choose the winners
  • The Buy Box can be won consistently with the right marketing tactics
  • Winning the Buy Box is not permanent so strategies must be adjusted often

Global conditions in 2020 allowed many online retailers to make headway in the eCommerce space. However, Amazon maintained its dominance, with its platform projected to represent 50% of all eCommerce sales in 2021.

To buy products on Amazon, users must engage with the Amazon Buy Box, the space on the product pages where they can click “Add to Cart.”

As a result, merchants compete for real estate in the Buy Box, which Amazon mediates with its eligibility requirements and selection algorithm.

What is the Amazon Buy Box?

For sellers, the Amazon Buy Box is the most competitive aspect of the platform. On the far right of every product page, the white box that says “Add to Cart” allows them to make their purchase. This is the Buy Box. It contains not only the ability to add an item to the cart but estimated shipping times, stock status, seller information, and price.

Sellers cannot “win” the Buy Box permanently. More accurately, they bid for shares in the box as a percentage, such as 60% of a given day. The Amazon ad platform uses its internal eligibility requirements and performance metrics to decide which buyers deserve time in the Buy Box and how long they should win.

Particularly for sellers whose products are generic or sold by other merchants, winning the Buy Box on Amazon represents the most essential factor in the success of their store on Amazon.

Why is the Amazon Buy Box Important for Sellers?

Amazon prioritizes the customer above all else. This means that they determine the sellers featured in the Buy Box using strict performance metrics. Over 82% of Amazon sales go through this box.

The Buy Box contains information about the seller and shipping times, but convenience, not this information, drives users to choose the products in the Buy Box over others. The importance of the Amazon Buy Box extends to advertising as well since sellers who win can use it to create pay-per-click (PPC) ads, which are sponsored listings for relevant keywords. Ads in the Buy Box increase a seller’s click-through rate (CTR) due to the box’s centrality.

The Importance of Buy Box on Mobile

An even greater number of users utilize the Buy Box on Amazon mobile due to the site’s design. On mobile devices, the Buy Box takes up the whole screen, omitting the “Other Sellers” box entirely.

This means that whoever wins the Buy Box takes advantage of Amazon’s 150 million mobile users, driven by convenience to use the Buy Box without searching for alternatives.

The Amazon Buy Box Algorithm and Key Metrics

Knowing the importance of the Buy Box, understanding the algorithm that determines who wins this prime real estate becomes essential to any Amazon sales strategy. The Amazon Buy Box algorithm uses nine key factors to select the winners of the Buy Box.

Rather than simply awarding the cheapest prices the most time in the box, Amazon focuses on the whole customer experience. The Amazon Buy Box metrics include everything the customer cares about, from shipping times to ratings.

In short, the more likely a product will result in a positive experience for Amazon customers, the more time it will be awarded in the Buy Box.

1. Seller-Fulfilled Prime

Amazon allows its top merchants to fulfill their orders in-house and retain the benefits of their seller accounts. Seller-Fulfilled Prime allows businesses to control their shipments, bypassing Amazon’s controls and fees.

Amazon prioritizes sellers who can maintain a top Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) account since the site’s fulfillment services don’t have to do any heavy lifting. So long as a seller maintains low defect and return rates, Amazon prefers they handle fulfillment themselves.

2. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

By contrast, sellers can opt for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which means that Amazon guarantees fulfillment services. When selecting products for the Buy Box, an FBA merchant gives Amazon confidence. Since they have control over the fulfillment process, they can be sure of the customer’s satisfaction.

3. Eligibility

Before sellers have a chance to bid for space in the Buy Box, they must first be deemed eligible by Amazon’s algorithm. This means maintaining Amazon’s fulfillment standards for a certain amount of time (more on this below).

4. Product Price

A competitive price will increase impressions on Amazon as well as make you more competitive in the Buy Box. Note that Amazon looks at the landed price, which is the total fulfillment cost of the item, including shipping, handling, and taxes. In other words, sellers cannot fool the Amazon algorithm with a cheap product that has a high shipping rate.

5. Order Fulfillment

Sellers must maintain a timely order fulfillment process to win the Buy Box. Whether they fulfill their orders in-house or through FBA, their items should be in stock and prepped for shipment in time to fulfill Amazon’s shipping and delivery standards.

6. Shipping Time

With order fulfillment comes Amazon’s expectations for fast shipping times. The algorithm factors your fulfillment performance into the Amazon Buy Box variables, which is why many sellers turn to Amazon FBA, rather than manage it themselves.

7. Order Defect Rate (ODR)

Amazon factors your Order Defect Rate (ODR) over both the short and long term into your eligibility for placement in the Buy Box. Generally, if more than 1% of a seller’s orders come back as defective, Amazon will not place them in the Buy Box.

8. Customer Feedback

Amazon customers can leave positive, negative, or neutral feedback. The number of reviews, as well as the overall rating in each interval, impacts your customer feedback metric (Amazon tracks feedback in 30-day, 60-day, and 365-day segments). Buy Box winners usually have at least 90% positive customer feedback.

9. In-Stock Consistency

When items are out of stock, cancellations and refunds increase. This negatively impacts your chance to win the Buy Box. Amazon won’t start noticing until 2.5% or more of your orders run into stocking issues.

Amazon Buy Box Eligibility

Even knowing the metrics Amazon uses to judge the box’s winners, sellers need to know how to become eligible for the Amazon Buy Box in the first place.

The first requirement is a professional seller account, which Amazon defines as an account that sells at least 40 products per month, subscribes to Amazon’s Professional Seller plan, and offers custom shipping options for their customers. Amazon also checks to make sure the items are new. Used products never appear in the Buy Box.

Next, your store’s account health must meet a certain standard, which includes a low rate of defects, late shipments, and cancellations. Even a business’s turnaround time on customer service issues can impact its Amazon Buy Box eligibility.

Finally, your products must be in stock. Backordered or out-of-stock items are not eligible to win the Buy Box.

How to Check Buy Box Eligibility

Knowing that Buy Box eligibility is transient, every seller needs to know how to regularly check their eligibility status. Follow these simple steps:

  1. On your Amazon account, find the inventory tab in your Seller Central. Click “Manage Inventory” and then “Preferences.”
  2. Locate the Column Display and click so it becomes visible. Search for the field that says, “Buy Box Eligible.”
  3. From there, select the drop-down menu and click “Show when Available.”
  4. In the “Buy Box Eligible” column of the menu, you can view accounts by their SKU. If they are eligible, the field will read, “Yes.”

How to Win the Amazon Buy Box

Achieving eligibility does not guarantee that you will win the Buy Box. Other sellers, potentially with the same products, will be using this information to compete for the same space.

Therefore, it is essential to optimize your business for winning the Amazon Buy Box more often than your competition.

1. Create a Professional Seller Account

Accounts subscribed to Amazon’s Professional Sellers must sell more than 40 products per month and offer custom shipping options to their buyers. This flexibility proves to Amazon that you can be trusted with the Buy Box.

2. Use Fulfillment by Amazon

Winning the Buy Box boils down to winning Amazon’s confidence. Businesses that take on the responsibility of the fulfillment process can be attractive to Amazon’s algorithm.

However, opting for Fulfillment by Amazon gives you the ability to hand off most of the fulfillment process, saving your resources for other operations. For new operations unsure of their fulfillment process, this would be the smarter choice.

3. Make Your Pricing Competitive

Competitive pricing, or within 5% of the current average price, increases your chances of winning the Buy Box, especially on the low end. However, manually repricing items to always beat your competition can cause your profit margins to become unsustainable.

Observing your competitor’s prices is important but not all-inclusive. Look into algorithmic pricing as a way to balance competitiveness with a sustainable ROAS.

4. Minimize Your Shipping Time

Maintain shipping standards, both in handling and transit time, to increase your chance of winning the Buy Box. Amazon’s Seller Central offers advice on how to do this by managing your shipping settings.

You have options to modify handling times for difficult deliveries and enable premium shipping options. For weekend deliveries, Amazon offers certain sellers automatic delivery options through supported carriers.

5. Provide a Great Customer Experience

Amazon is driven by the customer experience. They expect the sellers who win the Buy Box to be on board with this philosophy. This is why Amazon’s algorithm examines your ratings, favoring sellers with at least 90% positive feedback for the month, quarter, and year.

How to Know if You’re Winning the Buy Box

We explained how to check your Buy Box Eligibility. Amazon also offers statistics to help you track your wins and optimize your advertising strategy.

In your Seller Central account, below the menu at the top of the Dashboard, you will see metrics listed as percentages under a tab that reads, “Buy Box Wins.” Clicking this tab displays your Buy Box metrics by market, including trends within the last two days and percentage totals for the last month. If you click these percentages, you will open the Pricing Dashboard.

The Pricing Dashboard shows your status in the market’s Buy Box, including your win percentage. It also displays your sales conversion rate and price competitiveness. This will help you calculate your Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS), the metric that shows the sales your marketing budget is generating.

How You Can Lose the Amazon Buy Box

Losing the Amazon Buy Box is easier than winning it. No seller can win it 100% of the time, but by understanding the way most sellers lose the Buy Box, you can mitigate your time in the “Other Sellers” menu.

The Buy Box can be lost for many reasons, price, shipping, stock, and the list goes on.  Losing the Buy box will have consequences as it causes your ads to stop shopping, meaning that campaigns will lose traction, sales, and precious data gathering time.

A past client of mine had several thousand products, but only a handful with high review scores. These products would often lose the Buy Box due to stock issues because, unsurprisingly, they sold much quicker than the other items.  This means until paused. The campaigns would default to low or non-ranked products.  This resulted in wasted spend, as customers are much more hesitant to convert these clicks.

1. Another Seller Joins Your Listing

Many sellers on Amazon sell the same products. This means that a seller with the same product can join your listing in competition for the same Buy Box and steal your spot by lowering their prices.

2. Your Pricing Isn’t competitive

While trying to optimize your pay-per-click metrics, you may forget about the bigger picture of the market in your product category. Your price can become less competitive both by being too low or too high compared to the average listing on the store, helping other sellers undercut your place in the Buy Box.

3. Poor Account Health

Maintaining a healthy seller account is essential to retaining Amazon Buy Box status. Accounts that let their metrics slip or get suspended can lose their Buy Box privileges.

Let Search Nurture Help Earn Your Buy Box

There is no way to guarantee placement in the Buy Box. However, understanding Amazon’s selection process and maintaining the performance metrics that Amazon uses to select the winners can put you ahead of your competitors. Amazon wants to have faith in your products – that’s how they make their money, after all. Your job is to use the above metrics to give it to them.

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