Customer visibility is key to building a successful e-commerce business on Amazon. Much like Google, Amazon has prime real estate that sellers dream of claiming. Google has position zero, for instance, while Amazon has the Buy Box:
In the photo above, we see the “Add to Cart” button. This is located in the Buy Box, just below the product details and above the “Other Sellers on Amazon” box.
Industry estimates state that the seller that holds the Buy Box gets the sale 90 percent of the time. Yet, the Buy Box is only reserved for sellers that have proven themselves worthy (at least, in Amazon’s eyes). Seller metrics and pricing matter, but how exactly do they help (or hurt), your chances of claiming the Buy Box?
In this post, we’ll dive into the Buy Box algorithm and share tips that you can use to increase your chances of holding this coveted spot and increase sales.
What does it mean to hold the Buy Box?
Making it into the Buy Box isn’t a winner-take-all situation. Instead, once sellers meet Amazon’s eligibility requirements, they will be able to share the buy box with other sellers. It’s this “share” of time that sellers are really competing for. The better one seller is for a particular product, the more time that the seller holds the Buy Box.
The Buy Box Requirements
While there’s never a guarantee you will hold the Buy Box, Amazon does have some minimum eligibility requirements to be considered:
- You must have a professional seller account.
- You must sell new items.
- You must have available inventory.
Price and Score Go Hand-In-Hand
We wouldn’t want to go with the cheapest seller if it only has two stars, right? Similarly, would we still choose the perfect seller if its prices were significantly higher than the next option?
Amazon’s algorithms rightfully weigh lower pricing with seller metrics to determine the quality of a given seller. For example, if a seller has pristine metrics, they may be able to charge a higher price (Amazon figures the experience for the buyer is worth the higher price). If a seller’s metrics are less-than-perfect, offering competitive prices will be their best bet.
The Added Importance of Buy Box Mobile
Let’s take a look at the screenshot below of a mobile page on Amazon:
Compared to the desktop/laptop layout, there are some major differences. First, the Buy Box takes up significantly larger screen space. Second, Amazon doesn’t list other sellers! In other words, holding the Buy Box pretty much guarantees sales by mobile customers.
Diving Into the Buy Box Algorithm
In a nutshell, the Buy Box algorithm is driven by several factors ranging from cancellation rates to customer response rates to valid tracking. However, we can say the four most significant factors are:
- Seller-Fulfilled Prime
- Landed Price (Price and Shipping)
- Shipping Time
Fulfillment (Highest Impact)
How sellers fulfill orders has the greatest impact on the Buy Box algorithm. Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), specifically, gives sellers the greatest advantage. Why’s that? Amazon gives its own fulfillment service perfect scores across all fulfillment variables, making it essentially impossible for Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) sellers to beat them.
If sellers choose not to fulfill with Amazon, they will have to focus on competitive pricing and achieving high scores across other variables.
Seller-Fulfilled Prime (Highest Impact)
For top-tier Fulfillment By Merchant sellers, Amazon offers Seller-Fulfilled Prime. Sellers maintain control over their order fulfillment while also enjoying access to Prime Members. Furthermore, members of this program have an increased chance of appearing in the Buy Box.
*Please note that not all sellers will qualify for Seller-Fulfilled Prime. Amazon also periodically closes registrations, instead giving interested sellers the option to join a waitlist.
Landed Price (High Impact)
As we said before, pricing is an important factor when determining Buy Box eligibility. Specifically, Amazon looks at the Landed Price, which includes the product price and shipping. The stronger a seller’s metrics are, the more leeway they get in charging higher prices. The weaker their metrics, the more likely they’ll have to offer competitive pricing.
Shipping Time (High Impact)
Amazon is all about convenience, so it’s natural that a seller’s offered ship time will play an important role in Buy Box eligibility. In a nutshell, the faster a seller offers to ship an item, the more favorable the listing will look in the Buy Box algorithm.
Your Buy Box Factor Chart
We’ve also put together this chart that outlines every Buy Box metric, along with their importance and ideal thresholds. Save this so you can gauge your own chances of holding the Buy Box and identify where you need to improve:
Finding the Right Buy Box Pricing Strategy
By now, we’ve established that lower pricing doesn’t guarantee a share of the Buy Box. Instead, sellers should choose the pricing strategy that works for their business and their customers. We’ll cover these in more detail below:
Just like its name, manual repricing means the seller sets the price for every Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN). This strategy works best for:
- Smaller businesses that only sell a handful of products.
- Businesses that sell specialized or uncommon goods that don’t have many direct competitors.
On the other hand, sellers can choose to turn to algorithmic repricing. These third-party data-driven platforms take into account all variables (e.g. competitor pricing) and prices products accordingly.
The advantage of algorithmic pricing is the potential for increased profits with minimal upkeep. However, these platforms are often expensive, making them likely viable only for large sellers with already solid profits.
Thankfully, Amazon offers rule-based pricing, which is a middle ground between complete manual pricing and expensive algorithm platforms. Using predefined rules set by the seller, Amazon will check competitor pricing and adjust accordingly. For example, a seller could create a rule to always stay $1 below the lowest marketplace price.
While rule-based pricing eliminates the need for constant price management, it does have downsides. Unlike algorithmic pricing, rule-based only looks at competitor pricing. Furthermore, sellers still have to manage the rules themselves.
What If I Don’t Make The Buy Box?
Despite the clear advantages of the Buy Box, sellers have other alternatives to give their products as much exposure as possible.
For example, an Amazon Store Page is available to agencies, vendors, and sellers enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry. Sellers can feature particular products, upload brand videos, and more, all within customizable store design templates.
Offer Listings Pages
Regardless of whether a seller meets Amazon’s Buy Box requirements, they will still appear as an available seller on the product’s Offerings page. Here, sellers are listed by their Landed Price, which includes product price and shipping.
Other Sellers on Amazon
Don’t forget that Amazon lists up to three other sellers under the “Other Sellers on Amazon” option. Sellers must still meet the Buy Box requirements to have a shot at appearing here.
The Buy Box Is Ever Changing
Though sellers are always trying to stay up-to-date on best practices, Amazon can always switch things up. Sometimes, algorithm changes are made to better ensure the best Sellers appear in the Buy Box. Amazon may also open up the Buy Box to new product categories.
To offer some examples:
- Amazon engages in “Buyer Box Suppression,” the practice of replacing the Buy Box with a “See All Buying Options” button. This happens if a product is available at a lower price outside of Amazon and aims to encourage sellers to price their products fairly.
- Price wars between sellers are more common than ever, creating fierce competition for the Buy Box.
Of course, it’s not impossible to share the Buy Box with Amazon. You now understand the basics of how the Buy Box works, and what you need to have a shot at holding it.
Have any other questions about the Buy Box or Amazon in general? We’re here to help! Let’s discuss your business needs and see how Amazon marketing can drive your success.