What is the Amazon Buy Box and How Can You Win It?

We all know that Amazon is the biggest online marketplace in the world. As a seller, your business can see wild success or total obscurity based on your ability to make yourself visible on the platform.

There are a lot of ways to reach potential customers on Amazon, but one of the most lucrative is to win the Buy Box. In this article, we’ll look at what the Buy Box is and how you can capture it for your products.

What is the Amazon Buy Box and Why Does it Matter?

We’ve all seen the Buy Box – it’s the white box on the right side of each product page where you can choose to “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now.” It allows for immediate action and a mostly frictionless shopping experience, which is exactly Amazon’s mission.

So why does it matter? The biggest reason is that only one seller can “own” the Buy Box and be the seller whose product is automatically placed in a user’s cart.

Let’s step back: Who is selling on Amazon’s marketplace? Amazon, and the legions of third-party sellers who are competing with the retail giant and each other. Many of those retailers sell the same products. When it comes to the Buy Box, however, only one seller gets the benefit of the one-click, frictionless Amazon experience. Every other seller is relegated to the “Other Sellers on Amazon” links. In this crowded market, there is cutthroat competition for a very scarce resource—the sole ownership of the Buy Box.

It’s essentially the last action shoppers take in the sales funnel. Amazon doesn’t publish data on exactly how many purchases are done through the Buy Box, but according to Sellics, industry estimates place the number at about 90 percent. And that’s just for desktop. It’s even higher on mobile devices since the “Other Sellers on Amazon” option doesn’t appear on mobile.

That makes a lot of sense! Think about how the typical Amazon shopper sees it. They click into a product page, decide to make the purchase, and add it to their cart or Buy Now. Have you ever clicked into the “Other Sellers on Amazon” links? Chances are, you haven’t for most purchases. That’s what makes the Buy Box so powerful.

The Buy Box is the white box on the right side of each Amazon product page where you can choose to ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now.’

How to Become Buy Box Eligible on Amazon

We know the Buy Box is vital to success on Amazon, but how can you actually get it?

Before we begin, we have to clarify that getting the Buy Box and being Buy Box eligible are not the same thing. You can be eligible and do everything right and still fail to capture the Buy Box.

Eligibility starts with four key factors:

  1. You must have a Professional Seller account. Free individual seller accounts are not Buy Box eligible
  2. You must get and maintain eligibility status. This is something you can view in your Amazon Seller Central account. We’ll dive deeper into what this means in a moment.
  3. You must be selling new items. Used items will not be sold in the Buy Box.
  4. You must have items in stock. If your items are out of stock, the Buy Box will be given to another seller.

Maintain eligibility status also hinges on some other key metrics, Informed.co writes. These include:

  • Order defect rate. Amazon looks at customer feedback, guarantee claims, and refunds to determine your order defect rate. Too high, and you can lose eligibility.
  • Time spent as an Amazon seller. Brand new sellers cannot immediately get eligibility status. Experienced sellers are preferred.
  • Customer experience. Amazon looks at a variety of metrics to determine customer satisfaction and the overall ability of a seller to deliver items on time, at a competitive price, and with as few defects as possible.

Beyond all that, the Buy Box is determined by a proprietary algorithm that considers dozens, if not hundreds, of factors when placing a seller in the Buy Box. Think of it like Google Search. Google uses algorithms to surface the best content on the web for a particular search query. Amazon is working in the same mindset, asking ‘How do we give the user the best option for fast, easy purchase?”

person using laptop computer holding card

How to Win the Amazon Buy Box

Like Google, Amazon does not simply list the factors it uses to place a seller in the Buy Box. Buy Box eligibility is fairly straightforward, but from there, it’s more of a black box. The factors Amazon used have been discovered—as much as they possibly can be—through trial and error and testing across many sellers who have tried to figure out how it works. Here are a few things you can do to increase your chances of winning the Buy Box.

Remember: There are no guarantees here, but by doing these things, you stand a much better chance of getting the best real estate on the product pages you care most about.

Use Fulfillment By Amazon

We know that Amazon cares about key performance metrics, such as order defect rate, valid tracking rate, the landed price, on-time delivery, and more. What better way to score well on those metrics than to use Fulfillment by Amazon, otherwise known as FBA?

This is not a requirement, and sellers who use Fulfillment by Merchant can score highly enough to beat FBA shippers on the Buy Box. Likewise, using Seller-Fulfilled Prime can be a great way for you to reach Amazon Prime members without relying on Amazon for fulfillment. If you have a great track record of satisfied customers, this can be a great way to cut shipping costs. FBA can be beneficial, but it’s not always the best choice.

Be Competitive on Landed Price

Landed price refers to the total price of a product on Amazon. It’s the sum of the item’s price plus shipping costs. In general, having the lowest landed price is a great way to land the Buy Box. But it’s not all about cutting prices to rock bottom.

If you have rock-solid seller metrics, you can have a slightly higher landed price and still get the Buy Box. Amazon cares deeply about giving its shoppers the best prices, but customer-centric sellers who consistently perform well can be rewarded even if they aren’t the most competitive on price. This can help you maintain a better profit margin on the items that make the Box. To that end, competitive pricing intelligence is vital to monitoring the landscape to ensure you are winning on this critical metric.

In general, having the lowest landed price is a great way to land the Buy Box. But it’s not all about cutting prices to rock bottom.

Encourage Customer Feedback

The overall number of customers who give feedback is a key metric for Amazon when deciding Buy Box placement. Encourage your customers to give feedback when they had a good experience with you and your products. A great seller rating is bolstered by having a high volume of ratings and feedback.

Manage Your Inventory Well

One of the main criteria for winning the Buy Box is item availability. Keeping high stock levels of Buy Box eligible items is crucial for consistent placement. If an item is out of stock, you have no chance.

There is one exception: back-ordered items. If you mark an item as being back-ordered, you can still get the Buy Box, and your customers will be notified that their item will ship when the item is available. While you can still get the Buy Box with back-ordered items, products that are readily available tend to be favored.

Monitor Your Account Health

Your dashboards in Seller Central will show you several metrics related to Account Health, including if your seller privileges are suspended.

One of the most important things to continually monitor is your Buy Box percentage. You can find this on the Pricing Dashboard. The Buy Box percentage is determined by taking the number of times you won the Buy Box for a product and dividing it by the number of times the product page was viewed. If a product was viewed 100 times and you won the Buy Box 30 times, you have a Buy Box percentage of 30 percent.

If you see that your percentage is declining over time, you are likely losing it because other sellers have a more competitive price or you have lost ground on other important seller metrics. Look at your Price Competitiveness tab to see if your prices for your most important items are more than 10 percent away from the current Buy Box price and make the necessary adjustments.

Winning the Buy Box is far from a perfectly exact science. Even when you do win, there’s no guarantee you will stay there if another seller is making the right optimizations. By understanding what Amazon is looking for from its sellers and making every effort to score highly on important metrics, you can continually put yourself in the best position to capture the most coveted real estate on the biggest online retail marketplace.

Matt Ellsworth

Matt is the Sr. Manager, Marketing & Demand at Wiser, the leading provider of actionable data for better decisions.

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