How do you win the Amazon Buy Box?
There is so much mystery about the Amazon Buy Box and how sellers can ensure they win it every time. Winning the Buy Box depends on Amazon’s algorithm, which makes the “best” offer to Amazon buyers. The algorithm considers numerous factors such as shipping speeds, times, costs and the cost of one item compared to other offers. It also factors in a seller’s reputation, and more.
If your seller account is not in good standing, the likelihood of getting the Buy Box is virtually zero. “Good standing” can mean just about anything, but it usually means the Buy Box is not likely if there’s any potential for an account-level action. Available stock is also a significant determinant. Issues like a high Order Defect Rate, recurring negative Voice of the Customer comments or ongoing policy violations and poor seller performance are definite elements that stymie your Buy Box position. Simply put, if you know there’s something awry in your account, fix it. If you don’t know, get help to review and assess your account health.
Here’s what you need to know to improve your chances to win the Buy Box.
Do the math
I sound like a motivational speaker here, but the advice is true. Examine the numbers, i.e., know your price plus your shipping costs. This is the first step to getting the Buy Box. If your item is more expensive than your competitor’s and you offer free shipping, does this equation cover the difference? You can’t simply offer a lower price (and then charge more for shipping), then expect to land the Buy Box. The first step is to offer the best price, which is the sum total that customers will be charged, usually not including tax.
Plan for “Prime”
When Amazon rolled out Prime, it changed online shopping forever. Customers expect 1- to 2-day shipping. For you, that means logistics are now key to winning the Buy Box. Setting your shipping lead times gets you closer to the end-game. The “fastest” is the bestest.” When there are two identical offers, the Buy Box winner is the one who can ship the product the fastest.
Shipping history also is a factor. While an item or ASIN is weighted heavier than other items, your overall shipping metrics will impact the Buy Box.
Adhere to the “secret of consistency”
Sellers attempt to secure the Buy Box by experimenting with product price. It’s a bad idea. Price consistency is a plus. In fact, ongoing price changes may actually hurt your chances for the Buy Box. It’s rare for Amazon to acknowledge or admit, but price consistency is a true metric. That’s why new sellers have no chance to get the Buy Box. They have no selling history.
What about pricing automation? Sellers that constantly change and adjust their prices multiple times a day through automated processes are less favored than those that manage their pricing in a slow, routine process. Amazon is able to know pricing changes and processes per item. It knows your items, offers, history, general categories and sub-categories.
Be consistent with pricing. Adapt, as needed.
Manage “the mix”
Amazon adds more mystery to the mix when it comes to winning the Buy Box. It’s a mix of activities and history on your products, what you sell and how you sell them. It’s about depth, breadth and spread.
It seems Amazon is crunching the data. It is examining practices and data showing:
• How long does it take you to sell the product?
• What’s your history with other products?
• What is the entered quantity on item?
• What other information do we know about this product?
• How are you – as a specific seller – related to the product?
It seems reasonable that Amazon prefers one seller vs. another on such criteria. For example, doesn’t Amazon prefer a seller who works directly with a brand to win the Buy Box vs. a 3PL that may have legitimate but indirect channels for sourcing the products?
If your account has thousands of SKUs where you only have 1-3 units each, you will have to work harder to win the Buy Box on many of the SKUs. However, your history will mean a lot for the times when you are wider in products than you are deep. Depth will help show you can fulfill these items for the next several weeks or months, based on current sales trends. For items like personal care and groceries, being the one that has the stock to cover for a long time is a good thing for the customer. Remember, Amazon mostly cares about what is good for the customer.
These factors (and much more, we presume) are on Amazon’s radar. While these are all good to ensure a positive buyer experience, it certainly muddles efforts to find the magic formula for winning the Buy Box.
Work to win
We all know there’s only one winner. One Buy Box. To win it is a fight that doesn’t stop and start with pricing changes and other techniques that “guarantee the Buy Box.” Winning is hard work. It takes persistency and consistency. I’ve seen sellers try to sell at a loss, simply to get the Buy Box. You may get it, you may increase sales but it’s getting you nowhere.
The best advice for every seller seeking the Buy Box is to diligent and consistent, know your products inside and out, keep track of your pricing, and the pricing of others (know the numbers) and keep your account healthy and strong.
A healthy account and executing an effective, consistent plan is the road to Buy Box victory.
Be sure to stay informed about the critical issues and insights facing Amazon sellers. We provide practical insights every week! And if Riverbend Consulting can help you, please contact us.
James has worked in nearly every department in Amazon, from Customer Service to Seller Support, Author Central, Payments, WebStore and AWS, and MWS. He really enjoyed getting something that no one else could manage to fix and then fixing it, preferably working with numbers and spreadsheets. James’ greatest pleasure is just being able to help people out. He is a proud father of 5, grand father of 2 1/2 (one on the way later this year). He loves to make things and has a tinkershop where he builds things out of wood, metal and anything else that is not nailed down. He is also a co-owner of a board game store and love mini war gaming!
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