Winning the Amazon buy box is no small feat. It’s a nonstop wrestling match, requiring the right combination of price, fulfillment method and seller metrics.
While it’s practically unheard of for one seller to win the buy box all the time (except when you’re the only seller of a product), there’s a way to ensure that you remain eligible and maximize your chances of outpacing competitors.
This cheat sheet by partner BigCommerce breaks down the different variables factored into Amazon’s buy box algorithm.
Let’s dive deeper into the top most important factors, as well as actionable tips for getting them in top shape.
The easiest way to win the buy box is through Amazon FBA, since Amazon gives itself an A+ in all aspects of fulfillment (this includes shipping time, ODR and inventory management). Chances are, if you’re leveraging FBA, you don’t have to worry as much about undercutting your competitors; you could still win the buy box at a slightly higher price.
That being said, you can still win the buy box as a Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) seller, though you’ll need exceptional seller scores and a very low price. FBM could be a more profitable option for you in the long run, especially if you sell heavy products or slower-moving items.
Landed Price and Algorithmic Repricing
Newsflash: Amazon's Buy Box favors lower prices. Mind blowing, right?
In all seriousness, while lower prices can sometimes get you closer to the sale, price-slashing is rarely the answer. There are several things to think about as you try to find the “sweet spot” in your pricing:
- What’s your minimum threshold? What is the lowest price you can offer while remaining profitable? Remember to factor in commissions, FBA fees, average return rate/fees and the cost of shipping, including the cost of inbound shipments to Amazon if you use FBA.
- How can you maximize profits? What’s the highest price you can offer without losing a sale? Consider your competitors and the overall market. The saying “you get what you pay for” is common speech among buyers of certain goods, like electronics, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not jeopardizing your reputation by setting an abnormally low price.
- Are you cross selling your products on other channels or ASINs? The first rule of thumb is to keep your pricing relatively consistent across all of your sales channels. Amazon won’t hesitate to suppress your listings if they find your product being sold at a much higher price elsewhere, be it on eBay or your webstore. Secondly, if your product is part of a kit or bundle, consider how this changes the overall value of that bundle. Check that a price change doesn't affect other parts of your listing like the title, which Amazon requires to match the highest-priced item in a bundle.
A common mistake sellers make is reducing price too severely from the onset; they drop prices much lower than their competitors, then try to raise prices later on after they’ve gained more sales and reviews. To their dismay, they’re not able to win the buy box; the ASIN has too many sellers competing at the old price, and/or they’re repricing in steep, arbitrary increments.
This is where an algorithmic repricer comes in handy. An algorithmic repricer is able to monitor competition and buy box placements in real time, serving as your eyes and ears around the clock. To put that into perspective: While a young seller may be shifting his/her prices once or twice a month (if he/she is diligent), an algorithmic repricer could be making twenty changes within an hour if needed. It will make incremental price changes based on the competition at any given moment, and adapt to ensure that you’re operating at a profit while winning the buy box.
Fast delivery has been a hallmark of Amazon since we all learned to say “Prime.” It’s gotten to the point where buyers often mistake Prime with two-day delivery—and may soon think of it as automatic one-day delivery. It’s only natural for Amazon to deem fast shipping a prerequisite for winning the buy box.
More specifically, having a shipping time of two days or less puts you at a great advantage. This is especially true if you sell timely goods, like birthday cards or holiday gift items.
Note that Amazon will set your shipping time to 3-5 business days by default if you don’t define otherwise. Shipping time also goes hand-in-hand with your late shipment rate. If you can’t fulfill at the rate that you promise, then your shipping time has little impact on your buy box rate.
For those who aren’t leveraging FBA but still want to outsource fulfillment, third-party logistics partners (3PLs) are a good alternative. A 3PL typically offers lower storage fees than Amazon and won’t hike up fees during the holidays. The communication between you and a 3PL is generally better, too. You have a greater say in how your products get packaged or where your inventory is sent. On top of being able to deliver products quickly, you can enjoy greater control over your assets.
Seller Performance and Feedback Score
Many medium-impact factors fall into a general “seller performance” bucket. If you’re using FBA, Amazon largely takes care of these metrics for you. That being said, things like lost or late inbound shipments could potentially drive your metrics down. You’ll also want to keep an eye on any FBM SKUs, as Amazon will still grade your performance across these SKUs. In particular, you’ll be judged on:
- Order defect rate (the closer to 0% the better)
- Valid tracking rate (the closer to 100% the better)
- Late shipment rate (the closer to 0% the better)
- On-time delivery (the closer to 100% the better)
- Customer response time (ideally less than 12 hours)
Feedback score and feedback count are equally important. Keep in mind that seller feedback is not the same as product reviews. Seller feedback appears in your Seller Central and apply to your storefront, whereas product reviews appear on product pages regardless of the seller. Unfortunately, customers sometimes leave poor product reviews on seller feedback pages. (If this happens, you can contact Amazon to have the review removed.)
The feedback score that you get ranked on is based on your quality as a seller. It’s averaged out over the year. However, the past 90 days have the greatest impact. So, if your score isn’t up to snuff now, you can start taking steps to improve it within a relatively short period of time.
Amazon offers basic tips for maintaining positive seller feedback. In addition to these, you should proactively find ways to earn positive remarks, be it through thank-you cards or other surprise-and-delight opportunities.
Amazon's Restrictions for Ratings, Feedback and Reviews
You may not attempt to influence or inflate customers’ ratings, feedback, and reviews. You may request feedback and reviews from your own customers in a neutral manner, but may not:
- Pay for or offer an incentive (such as coupons or free products) in exchange for providing or removing feedback or reviews
- Ask customers to write only positive reviews or ask them to remove or change a review
- Solicit reviews only from customers who had a positive experience
- Review your own products or a competitors’ products
Source: Amazon Seller Central
Get a Handle on the Buy Box with Zentail
When 82% of Amazon sales now go through the buy box, it's critical for you to know the most important factors for getting ahead of the competition. Having the right price and seller metrics can make the difference between winning the buy box 30% of the time versus 70% of the time.
Having the right tools is equally important. With Zentail's buy box report and repricer, you can accomplish the impossible—tracking and adjusting to buy box competition, even when you're asleep. Zentail's toolbox for Amazon sellers also includes advanced features, like kitting and bundling, to help you outsmart your rivals and increase your profits on the world's greatest ecommerce channel. Talk to us to learn more!
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