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How to win the Amazon Buy Box every time

Posted by Brogan Woodburn on Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

The Amazon Buy Box

On Amazon, the Buy Box is everything to sellers - whoever gets it will dominate sales, everyone else is left to fight over the crumbs.

Key points

  • The Amazon Seller Buy Box is hugely important for vendors, netting 80%< of sales.
  • Multiple factors determine which seller wins the Buy Box.
  • This article examines these factors, and teaches readers how to get to #1.

When a customer visits Amazon to make a purchase, nine times out of ten they click the main “Add to Cart” button located near the price. This is the Amazon Buy Box. What most shoppers aren’t aware of is how many sellers sell that particular item. The link that says “13 more offers from 9.95…” hardly gets clicked on, which is why it is so important for a seller to optimize their operation and win the buy box.

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Items have to be sold in new condition to be buy box eligible. Some items are not eligible for the buy box. You can check if your items are eligible by visiting the “Manage Inventory” in your seller account. From there, click “Preferences” and then “Buy Box Eligible.” This will add a column showing buy box eligibility per item in your inventory.

So how do you win the Amazon buy box?

Let’s briefly mention the three ways an item is sold on Amazon. First, Amazon itself can sell and ship the item. Second, a seller can have an FBA account, which means Fulfilled by Amazon. In this case, Amazon has the items in its own warehouses, handles shipping, customer service and the item is available for Prime shoppers. Third, a seller can have an FBM or Fulfilled by Merchant account. This means the seller ships from their own location (or is dropshipping) and handles the customer service themselves.

The buy box behaves differently for each of these types of sales. If Amazon sells and ships the item, there is a low chance that even an FBA seller can get the buy box. As an FBA seller, you can try to undercut Amazon’s price by a penny, but if they come back with a lower price, do not continue. The only other way is to offer an item when Amazon goes out of stock. You can check Amazon’s stock history for a particular item with Keepa to see if it is worth selling the item that Amazon has.

Fulfilled By Amazon has the advantage

Next, the Amazon seller buy box prefers FBA accounts. This is because Amazon has more control over the stock and fulfilment of the item. For a new seller, going the FBA route allows them to win the buy box sooner than a new FBM account would. So, say there are five FBA sellers for one item. The buy box will rotate between those sellers who are priced competitively (within 2-4% of lowest price) and have the best account health. The buy box does not necessarily go to the lowest priced item. An FBA seller undercutting price but who has poor reviews will not get the buy box.

Good account health includes:

  • Responding to all customer inquiries within 24 hours (sooner is better)
  • High feedback ratings
  • Low return and order defect rate
  • Good selling history on Amazon
  • Many good reviews

You can check your account health and performance in the seller area on Amazon to see where you can improve. Feedback Genius is a tool you can use to get more feedback and reviews. It automatically emails your customers when tracking shows they received the item and politely asks for feedback.

Amazon also prefers sellers who have multiples of the item in stock. If a shopper wants to buy 4 of an item, but the buy box is from a seller with only 2, it’s an inconvenience to add just those 2 to their cart and go to another seller to get the rest.

Another thing to note is that the Amazon buy box is geographical. This means that shoppers will see buy box offers from sellers with items in warehouses closest to them. A shopper in one area of the country may see a different offer than a shopper in another area. The algorithm which controls the rotation of the buy box is also not public, and the rotation can happen over minutes to days, per item sold, or even per buyer. What we do know is that the box is held for the longest time by the FBA sellers who have the best account health and are most competitively-priced.

The buy box and Fulfilled-by-Merchant sellers

For FBM sellers, account health is crucial. FBM accounts have become less common, but they still can be ideal for companies who sell large-size items and have the space and ability to provide quick shipping and good customer service. If you’re a new FBM seller, it takes time for Amazon to trust that you can deliver your product and perform well, which is why there is often a lag to win the buy box. The best thing to do is match the FBA sellers price and concentrate on fast shipping with great customer service.

To summarize, the Amazon buy box has three preferences:

  1. Amazon
  2. FBA accounts
  3. FBM accounts

The buy box treats each one of these separately.

  • When an item is in stock and sold by Amazon, the buy box most-likely will not be shared.
  • When an item is available from FBA sellers (even just one), it will not be shared with FBM sellers.
  • The buy box only rotates through one of these groups at a time, and goes to FBM when neither Amazon or FBA are available.
  • If an item has only one FBA seller who goes out of stock, the buy box will switch to FBM sellers. But if that single FBA seller comes back in stock, the buy box will switch and stay with the FBA seller.

Optimal buy box conditions 

  • You are a Fulfilled-by-Amazon seller
  • You are selling an item which Amazon itself does not sell (or has out of stock)
  • You are priced competitively at the current buy box price
  • You respond to all customer inquiries within 24 hours
  • You have a long history of selling on Amazon
  • You have high feedback ratings
  • You have many great reviews
  • You have a low order defect rate
  • You have multiples of the item in stock

The buy box accounts for over 80% of the sales made on Amazon. Even though there are higher fees associated with being an FBA seller, it greatly improves your chance at getting the buy box, and in the end pays off. It can seem elusive, but getting the buy box is doable if you follow these tips.

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About the author

Brogan Woodburn

Post Written by Brogan Woodburn

Brogan is a freelance writer with experience in the music and luxury retail markets. As a watch collector, he is always concerned with product authenticity. He graduated with a B.M. from Berklee College of Music in 2013.