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Galina Zagumennova
by Galina Z.posted on 06.06.2019

What is Amazon BSR and How It Helps AMZScout to Estimate Sales

The product listings on Amazon.com may seem pretty mundane.

There are a few pictures, a description of the product, some customer reviews, and of course the option to purchase the product if you’re so inclined.

What else is there to know, really?

If you’re a seller, a whole lot, it turns out.

Because if you look closely, it turns out that there’s a wealth of information that’s buried within Amazon product listings.

You just need to know what to look at and how to interpret it.

In this article, we want to help you understand and analyze one of the statistics found on a product listing: Amazon Best Seller Rank (BSR).

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We’ll cover what BSR is, how it’s calculated, and how you can use it to become a savvier Amazon seller.

What Is Amazon Best Sellers Rank?

Let’s start with the basics. What is BSR in the first place?

The shortest answer is this: BSR is a number that Amazon assigns to a particular product that roughly approximates its sales volume. In other words, BSR is a measure, however imperfect, of how popular an item is.

It is also important to know that BSR is public information. You can find a product’s BSR on essentially every product page on Amazon.

To find a product’s BSR, you’ll need to click through to a product detail page from a search results page. (Put another way, BSR can be found at the level of an individual product, rather than in aggregate search results).

Once you’ve pulled up the detail page of a particular product, scroll about halfway down the page. You’ll see the “Best Sellers Rank” in a grayed-out boxed under the header “Customer Reviews.” (If you’re handy with your laptop, you can also search a page for “Best Seller Rank” to locate the relevant area of the page more rapidly).

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So that’s where you can find BSR. In the next section, we’ll talk about how to interpret this data and put it to work in service of your Amazon business.

Before we get there, though, it’s useful to mention a few caveats and nuances about BSR.

First, BSR is calculated on a relative basis. That is, BSR is calculated in relation to how other similar products on Amazon are selling. It is not calculated relative to how all products across all e-commerce sites--or the internet more generally--are selling. In the same vein, as we will discuss further, it provides some but not all of the information you need to determine how many units a product is selling each day in absolute terms.

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Second and related, BSR is organized by category. In other words, the ranking on a product detail page compares how that product is selling to similar products in that category, rather than across the entire Amazon platform. It is not wholly apparent why this information is organized in this way; this is purely a function of website design on Amazon’s part.

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(As a quick aside, as we have discussed in other articles, it can be useful to look at the best-selling products in each category on Amazon. Amazon aggregates and presents this information on a separate page called Amazon Best Sellers).

Third, a BSR is typically displayed at the level of the product’s category, but it can sometimes be displayed at the level of a product’s subcategory. For instance, instead of a product listing page showing a BSR in the “Toys & Games” category, it might show the BSR of the product in “Party Supplies,” which is a subcategory of the Toys & Games category. This distinction is vitally important because, as we will discuss below, a high ranking in a subcategory may not mean that a product is selling well in the same way that a high ranking in a category would.

Fourth, like the game of golf, lower is better. The most popular items on Amazon are those that have a BSRs closest to #1.

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Fifth, BSR is very fluid. What we mean by that is, while they are meant to approximate a product’s popularity over time, they fluctuate on an hourly and daily basis depending on how well a product sold over the short-term. For that reason, when thinking about and evaluating BSRs, it’s best to look at a product’s average BSR over time and regard short-term measurements of BSRs as mere snapshots in time.

How Is Amazon BSR calculated?

So how exactly does Amazon go about calculating BSR?

At the outset, it is important to note that, like so much with Amazon, some of the relevant information is proprietary and we do not know everything.

In this way, think of BSR is similar to the Amazon search algorithm. As we have discussed in other blog posts, we have a general sense of how you can ensure that your product is ranked highly in Amazon’s search algorithm. It’s important for your product to sell well, convert at a high rate, offer a compelling price, receive positive reviews, and so forth. But exactly how these factors all fit together--and what factors Amazon may be taking into consideration that we do not have full visibility of--is something of a mystery.

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In the same way, when it comes to BSR, here is what we know:

  • BSRs are related to sales: The only criteria Amazon is using to determine BSR is a product’s sales volume. It does not matter, for example, how many reviews a product has.

  • BSRs change constantly: We also know that BSRs are always changing as Amazon gathers more and more sales information. Exactly how often BSRs change is something of a mystery.

  • BSRs are known to experience steep drops and then slowly climb back up. BSRs do not always move in a linear way. Specifically, when a product experiences one or multiple sales, there tends to be a steep “drop”--for example, a movement of a BSR from #250,000 to #175,000. If from there the product does not sell, the BSR tend to “crawl” slowly back to a higher number. Since BSR is calculated on a relative basis, changes in BSR tend to be steeper in situations where a product is relatively less popular. That is, a single sale may move a product from a BSR of, say, #3,000,000 to a BSR of #1,000,000.

How to Use Amazon Best Sellers Rank to Estimate Sales

So all of that is important to understanding what BSR is. But the important thing is not just understanding what BSR is but knowing how to put it to work in service of your Amazon business.

So how can you use BSR to improve your Amazon business?

The first thing to know is there are a few different reasons why you might want to look at something like BSR.

For one thing, BSR can help you determine the most popular item in a particular product niche. Suppose, for example, you wanted to see how well your product would sell if you were able to become the most successful seller in a category. By looking at the BSR of the most popular current item in a product niche, you can derive a sense of what your “peak” sales might be.

Second and related, BSR can help you determine something we like to refer to as “sales depth.” By sales depth, what we mean is the number of sellers that, based on BSR, all seem to be performing well in a category. This metric can be useful in that it suggests that there is room for not one but multiple sellers to all perform well in a particular category.

These techniques are useful in situations where you already have an idea for a product in mind and want to validate it. But BSR can also be useful in situations where you do not yet have a product idea. Specifically, by browsing the Amazon Best Sellers list mentioned above, you can get some idea of what is selling well on Amazon and where you might be able to introduce a similar product that builds on what has already been successful in a particular niche.

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Beyond knowing why you might want to look at BSR, you also need to know what you’re looking for.

In other words, now that you know what BSR is inside and out, where to find it on a product listing page, and why it can be helpful to your business, you need to know how to make sense of it.

What, at the end of the day, does this little number called BSR really mean?

In very general terms, the best way to think about BSR is on a spectrum with the following values:

  • BSR of #1000 or less: The product is absolutely flying off the shelves! Whoever is selling it is making an absolute killing.

  • BSR of #1000-10,000: The product is performing extremely well. It may not be one of the bestsellers on Amazon, but it’s still selling like hotcakes.

  • BSR of #10,0000 to 50,000: Sales are a bit slower than in the other two examples, but the product is still selling at least a few units per day.

  • BSR of #50,000 to 250,000: Proceed with caution. The product is selling one or, at most, a couple of units per day.

  • BSR of #250,000 or more: Stay away. This is not a product that is selling well, if at all.

Now, to reiterate what we mentioned before: this is a rough guide that is meant to serve as a general framework, not as hard-and-fast rules. Because BSR is calculated on a category-by-category basis, the implications of a product’s BSR are going to be different from category to category.

Moreover, as we will discuss in the next section, it is not necessary that you rely on your judgment in order to analyze a product’s BSR. While you can evaluate BSRs manually, product research software like AMZScout is here to help you make more informed and thoughtful decisions around it.

How Does AMZScout Use BSR?

Our goal at AMZScout is to provide Amazon sellers with a suite of software tools that allow them to create a massively successful and profitable e-commerce businesses.

Consistent with that mission, our flagship product research tools make it fast and simple for any seller to identify and begin selling in the very best product niches on Amazon.

Here’s how you can go about this. Take any type of product you might be interested, like gardening gloves.

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You can simply search for “gardening gloves” within AMZScout and, within seconds, see a detailed breakdown of whether this is a compelling product to be selling on Amazon.

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What does BSR have to do with all of this? Well, when the AMZScout algorithm goes to work, part of what we’re calculating is how much demand there is for the item. Among other things, we want to help you know if items in that niche are selling well.

Accordingly, on AMZScout, you’ll notice a couple of important metrics that are informed by a product niche’s BSR.

First, you’ll notice a column on the AMZScout dashboard called “Avg. Sales Rank.”  This figure is our best estimate for the average BSR across a particular product niche. You can use this figure to determine whether, based on the raw numbers, there appears to demand in a particular product niche.

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If you dig a little deeper, we’ve also simplified matters even further. If you click on the “Niche Score” icon on the AMZScout dashboard, you’ll see a set of qualitative evaluations of the product niches. These descriptions effectively represent our best analysis of the suitability of a particular niche.

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The information under the “Demand” header of the dashboard relates to BSR. In other words, since BSR is a proxy for demand, what we are basically doing in this case is using our calculation of the average BSR in a category to inform our analysis of the demand in the category.

In this way, the way to think about BSR is as one of the “inputs”--one of the many and main data points--that AMZScout uses to help make you informed decisions as an Amazon seller.

What Is BSR 30 in AMZScout?

Given the complexity involved with BSR, you might be asking whether the AMZScout software is really capable of performing analysis on the metric.

At the end of the day, is AMZScout just performing guesswork when it comes to BSR, or is what we are doing rooted in sophisticated analysis?

The answer to that question lies in understanding BSR30, the most recent iteration of our software.

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Simply put, when it comes to analyzing BSR, our software is the most sophisticated technology on the market.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each day, we use our powerful algorithm to scrape the real-time BSRs of millions of products on Amazon.

  2. We then cross-check those real-time BSRs against the historical database found in our product archives.

  3. We repeat this each day over a 30-day period.

  4. We use this 30-day rolling average to produce 30-day BSR estimates that are displayed on the AMZScout software tools.

By conducting the analysis in this way, we’re able to distinguish the signal from the noise.

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If a product sells well on a good day, other lesser software tools might get tricked into believing that the product is not only selling well now but has sold well historically. Since the AMZScout software incorporates data over a longer period of time, it provides a fuller--and more accurate--picture of what’s really going on with a product’s sales history.

How Does AMZScout Estimate Sales?

Earlier in the article, we discussed how an improvement in BSR suggests that a product has sold one or multiple units. In other words, when BSR goes down, it indicates that a sale of that product has taken place.

The question this brings up, of course, is the relationship between these two variables. Does each decline in BSR correspond to a single sale? Or does BSR not decline until multiple sales have taken place? Does a bigger decline in BSR mean that more units have sold, or simply that a product is selling more consistently? And after all that, what about when BSR increases instead of decreases?

It’s basically a non-starter to try to do this work by hand or in your head. It’s simply too tedious and there are too many variables involved.

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But here again is where a software tool like AMZScout comes in. Our proprietary and powerful algorithm knows exactly how to think about the relationship between sales and BSR. Instead of trying to make the calculations by hand, our software can tell you exactly how many sales a product is making based on the small and continuous changes to BSR.

And that’s ultimately the most important tool you can have in your toolkit as an Amazon seller. A metric like BSR and BSR30 are important, to be sure.

But it is not important in and of itself. It is important because it provides you, the Amazon seller, with the most important information of all--whether Amazon shoppers want to buy what you have to sell.

To be sure, it is possible to decipher that information by yourself. You can click through individual product listings and scan the BSR for each item. You can review the Amazon Best Sellers list. You can carefully compare how one product performs relative to others in the same category.

But it’s simply easier with the help of software. Specifically, it’s so much easier with the help of AMZScout. With our suite of tools in hand, all that time and energy you were going to invest in product research can be freed up, leaving you to do the only thing that matters for any business--make money and earn profits.

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Conclusion

In this article, we covered everything you could want to know about Amazon Best Sellers Rank.

We talked about where to find it on an Amazon product page. We told you all the little nuances and tricks around it. We shared with you why you might want to use it. And most important of all, we talked about how it can be used to launch new products, understand your competitors, and grow your Amazon business.

All of the work around BSR can be done by hand. But the AMZScout software is here to make understanding, analyzing, and applying that much simpler for you.

Thanks for reading and happy selling!

We want to hear from you!  How have you put BSR to work in your Amazon business?  Let us know by support@amzscout.net.

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