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by Travis F.posted on 10.07.2020

How to Win the Amazon Buy Box: The Complete Guide for 2020

Selling on Amazon isn’t as easy as simply listing your products on the website. You need to optimize your listing and beat your competition. A big part of this is winning the buy box.

You may be surprised to learn that it’s possible for someone to click on your product, click “Buy Now” and purchase the item without you actually being credited with a sale. How did this happen and why didn’t you receive any money from this?

We’ll address this question, along with everything you need to know about how to get the buy box so you can build a profitable and successful Amazon business.

What is the Amazon Buy Box?

Amazon is a global enterprise, meaning it has millions of sellers. And many third-party sellers are offering the exact same products. So, to keep things more organized the company makes these sellers share a listing. Otherwise, you’d have dozens, maybe even hundreds of listings for the same product.

Of course, the problem then becomes who gets the sale when someone clicks “Buy Now?” At any one time, a certain seller has control over what’s known as the buy box and will receive the sale when someone purchases the item.

Amazon uses a sophisticated algorithm to determine who has the buy box, and the winner constantly rotates based on a number of factors. This is why it’s so important to understand how the buy box works and what you need to do to gain control of it.

How Does the Buy Box Algorithm Work?

Amazon’s number one priority is to create a good shopping experience for its customers. Because of this, the buy box algorithm is designed to determine which seller is able to offer the best combination of value and customer service to the buyer.

Here are all the factors that go into the formula:

  • Price: While it’s not the sole determining factor, it’s arguably the most important one. More often than not, if you match or offer the lowest price you’ll likely be able to win the buy box. Keep in mind that the algorithm also accounts for your shipping price as well. It does not include sales tax.

  • The Type of Seller Account You Have: Only those with a Professional Seller account are eligible for the buy box.

  • Whether Your Product is New or Used: Only new products are eligible for the buy box.

  • Fulfillment: Your ability to consistently fulfill orders quickly and efficiently also contributes. Using the FBA program gives you the best chance, as Amazon considers this the best way to fulfill and ship orders.

  • Order Defect Rate (ODR): Amazon monitors your ODR rate over the last four months. In order to win the buy box you should try to keep it under 1%.

  • Feedback: This includes how many positive reviews you receive and the total number of reviews you have. The more positive reviews you have the better.

  • Inventory: If your stock becomes low Amazon will be unlikely to award you the buy box as they want to make sure you can fulfill all the orders you’ll receive.

The exact workings of the algorithm are unclear, but the above items have proven to play a part in it. So, make sure to stay on top of all these factors while managing your Amazon business.

How to Win the Buy Box

Now that you know how the buy box works it’s time to go over what you can do to beat out your competition and actually get control of it.

Here are some of the best ways to win the buy box:

Use Fulfilled by Amazon

As we mentioned earlier, Amazon favours this fulfillment method over fulfilled by merchant. There are likely two reasons for this:

  1. Because Amazon is the one fulfilling the orders they can guarantee customers that they will be fulfilled correctly and quickly.

  2. Amazon wants to encourage more sellers to use FBA, since they make additional money from it.

Whatever the case may be, it’s been proven that using FBA has a positive impact on your ability to get the buy box. So, unless you have a very good reason to fulfill orders yourself you should definitely be using FBA. For most sellers, it will likely be way more convenient anyways. Plus, it makes you eligible for Prime shipping.

Offer as Low a Price as Possible

By this we mean, offer as low a price as you can while still making a profit. It doesn’t matter how often you get the sale if you’re not making any money.

To figure out what the lowest price you can offer is, use the AMZScout FBA Calculator. With this tool, you’ll be able to estimate all of your expenses (the cost of the product, referral fees, FBA fees, etc.) and determine your profit margins.

You can also spy on your competitors by using the AMZScout Pro Extension. This will allow you to see all of your competitor’s prices and monitor price changes over time to help you develop an effective pricing strategy.

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Build Up Your Seller Feedback

In order to consistently get the buy box you need to have a good number of reviews, and about 90% of those reviews need to be positive. Here are a few tips to help you generate more positive feedback:

  • Ask for Reviews: A great way to get more reviews is to set up an automatic email that gets sent to your customers once they receive your product. This gives you a chance to follow up with them about their purchase and ask them to leave you a review.

  • Answer Questions Quickly: Answer any questions you receive thoroughly and quickly. Amazon prefers you answer all questions within 24 hours.

  • Quality Control: When you receive your products inspect them carefully and ensure none of them are damaged. If you’re using FBA Amazon will do this for you, but it’s still good to check for yourself before sending your inventory to them. This lowers the chance that your customers will receive damaged goods.

Customer service is something that needs to be constantly maintained. If you slip up once or twice it can have negative consequences for your business, so always make sure you’re staying on top of it.

Keep Products in Stock

Managing your inventory is critical to your success. When your stock is low it lowers your odds of winning the buy box.

You can monitor your inventory in your seller central account. Don’t wait until you’re almost out to order more. Be proactive and place orders in advance to ensure you always have plenty of items in stock.

After selling for a while you should be able to figure out how fast you’ll run out of your products and how long it will take to receive them from your supplier. This should allow you to pinpoint the best time to place your order.

You can also keep tabs on your competitors’ inventory by using AMZScout Stock Stats. This free Chrome Extension lets you check a product’s best seller rank, research every seller that’s selling the same product as you, and analyze inventory levels for any product.

Ship Items Quickly

Amazon doesn’t want customers to wait too long to receive their orders. If you’re not able to fulfill and ship items quickly they’ll punish you by not awarding you the buy box.

The easiest way to overcome this is by using the FBA program. With Amazon shipping your orders for you, you’ll always be sure that your products are getting delivered as quickly as possible.

Plus, Amazon won’t ever punish you for slow delivery times if you’re using FBA.

Tips and Tricks

Are you looking for more ways to boost your odds of winning the buy box? Here are a few more tips and tricks to help you be tops amongst the competition:

Choose the Right Product

If you want to make things easier on yourself choose a product that has less competition. The fewer competitors you have the easier it will be to get the sale.

Before you settle on a product make sure to do some research with the AMZScout Pro Extension. Once it’s installed on your browser you’ll be able to pull up a wide range of stats on any product currently being sold on Amazon.

Just go to Amazon and search for the type of product you’re interested in. Then once the results come up click the AMZScout logo in the top right corner of your screen to open the extension. You’ll be able to see:

  • Estimated monthly sales

  • Number of reviews

  • Sales trends and history

  • A Niche Score letting you know how competitive the niche is

  • A Product Score letting you know how competitive a product is

Most importantly, you’ll be able to see how many sellers are currently selling a particular product. So, not only will you be able to choose a product that is proven to sell consistently well, but you’ll also be able to find ones that have fewer sellers, giving you a better chance at the buy box.

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Sell Private Label Products

When you’re selling the same item as 50 other sellers it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle. This is why many sellers start selling private label items.

A private label product is a unique item that has your own brand name and logo on it. It can either be a completely new product that you came up with or an existing product that you’ve modified.

The advantage of this is that because you’ll be the only one selling it you’ll always have the buy box, instead of being stuck in rotation. If someone wants to buy your unique product they can only buy it from you, meaning you’ll always get the sale. And because you own the product no one else can start selling it and take away a percentage of your sales.

Coming up with your own product may sound difficult, but it’s actually easier than you think. Alibaba is a great place to start. There are thousands of manufacturers there that offer a wide range of products. Simply reach out to some that offer the types of items you’re looking for and tell them your idea. Assuming it’s doable they’ll be happy to create a prototype for you to test.

There’s a little more legwork involved in creating a private label product, but once it’s developed the process is no different than selling any other item. Plus, with no other sellers competing against you you may find it’s also more profitable.

How to See Your Eligibility for the Buy Box

If you want to know if you’re eligible for the buy box you can do so in Amazon Seller Central.

Just follow these steps:

  • Log in to your Seller Central account.

  • Click on the “Inventory” tab.

  • Select “Manage Inventory.”

  • Click on the “Preferences” tab.

  • Find the “Buy Box Eligible” field.

  • Select “Show When Available.”

  • Once this is enabled you’ll see a “Yes” appear under the Buy Box Eligible column for a SKU when it becomes eligible.

Make sure to check this for all of your products, as there may be something you don’t know about that could be preventing you from being eligible. If you feel you’ve fulfilled all the requirements but are still being listed as not eligible make sure to report it to Amazon seller support so you can get assistance.

Is it Worth Paying for PPC Advertising if You Don’t Have the Buy Box?

You may be wondering if you should run PPC ads if you’re competing with other sellers for the buy box. The last thing you want is to pay for an ad only for it to result in one of your competitors getting the sale.

Luckily, Amazon has a system in place to help prevent this from happening. Your ads will only appear when you have the buy box, giving you the best chance at getting the sale should the person who clicked on the ad decide to make a purchase.

That being said, you should still do everything you can to win the buy box if you’re running a PPC campaign. Otherwise your ads will never be displayed and your campaign won’t be successful. 

And once you do have the buy box a PPC campaign is a great way to boost your sales and take advantage of your position.

Conclusion

As you can see, winning the buy box is a critical part of becoming a successful Amazon seller. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to increase your chances of getting it. Follow the advice above and take advantage of AMZScout’s helpful software to gain an advantage over your competitors and take control of the buy box.

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© AMZScout. All rights reserved 2016-2020 AMZScout Corp., 1735 Market Street, Suite 3750, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103 AMZScout DMCC, Unit No: BA402, DMCC Business Centre, Level No 1, Jewellery & Gemplex 3, Dubai