Win Amazon’s Buy Box
- March 24, 2016 | Marcus DeHart
In a brick-and-mortar store, carefully considered product placement can be used to move products quickly. I often find something on sale at the end of an aisle and place it in my shopping cart only to find a wider selection of the product down a different aisle. The decision to place products in such a location varies from store to store. The product might have a higher margin, it might be overstocked, or the store manager might be incentivized by the manufacturer to feature their product prominently. On Amazon, the Buy Box serves a similar function.
How the Buy Box Works
When you find a product on Amazon and click through to the description, you’ll see the Buy Box to the right of the listing with a prominent “Add to Cart” button. There may be more than one seller listing this product, but only the best deal earns the coveted placement in the Buy Box.
The tricky part is figuring out what “the best deal” means. Obviously price and shipping expenses are huge considerations when it comes to selecting the winning product for the Buy Box. But the lowest price does not guarantee your product will win the Buy Box. This makes the Buy Box a bit of a “black box.” That’s because Amazon keeps the algorithm for selecting the winning product a secret. They give you clues, but they don’t want sellers “gaming” or manipulating the system.
By default, the Buy Box will display the best deal for new products. Used products can also compete for the Buy Box, but the winner will only be visible if the customer selects “Buy Used” at the bottom of the box.
If you're selling books, don’t plan on winning the Buy Box anytime soon. Amazon got its start selling books and they like to hold on to their advantage of winning the Buy Box. However, if you sell used books, you could win the Buy Used placement.
If you sell products in multiple categories, you might see inconsistency between products winning the Buy Box in those different categories. Each category has the ability to select or fine-tune the algorithm for qualifying for Buy Box placement.
Don’t rely on being the only seller of a product to win the Buy Box. Your performance as a seller and other factors can still come into play and can disqualify your listing from winning the Buy Box. And don’t create a new product detail page for a product that already exists in order to have the only listing. That’ll come back to bite you.
To begin with, only Professional selling plans are eligible to even compete for the Buy Box, so if you’re not paying a monthly subscription free to sell on Amazon, you can pretty much forget about the Buy Box. Your account must also be in good standing -- this can include your customer performance metrics and even your time and experience on the Amazon selling platform. If you meet all the criteria for Buy Box Eligibility, then your products will be considered for placement in the Buy Box.
Position Your Products for Placement
Assuming you meet all the qualifications for Buy Box eligibility there are several factors you need to be mindful of if you want your products to win the Buy Box. Pricing competitively is a must. On the Manage Inventory page in Seller Central you can use your preferences to include a column with the Buy Box Price. For every product you list, you will see the price + shipping of the winning listing, whether yours or a competitor. You can use this to help set a competitive price for your products.
Keep your products in stock and your available quantities accurate. Offer a range of fulfillment options. If you only offer standard delivery, consider adding express, two-day, and even free shipping. If you only ship to limited regions, you’re not likely to win the Buy Box when someone outside those regions is looking for your product. And if you want a little extra leverage, use Fulfillment by Amazon. With Amazon’s delivery speed and customer satisfaction working for you, you can increase your chances of winning the Buy Box.
Finally, stay on top of your customer service. Make it a priority or your chances of winning the Buy Box will greatly decrease. Ship on time. Respond quickly to customer questions and requests for returns and refunds. Provide shipment tracking. Monitor your Customer Metrics routinely to gauge your performance.
Leverage the Buy Box
Amazon won’t give out any hard statistics to prove it, but anecdotally many sellers swear by the Buy Box as a way to increase sales on Amazon. One could argue that even without the Buy Box, customers would still pick the best deal. But the Buy Box is a force to be reckoned with. If you have the opportunity to win the Buy Box, take it.