News & Insights
Improve Your Sales Strategy with Amazon’s Buy Box Metrics
Amazon sellers focus a lot of attention on “winning.” That’s because Amazon is an e-commerce marketplace where virtually anyone can sell products, and in many cases, multiple sellers list the same item for sale. The result is that every product listing becomes a competition for customers.
To simplify customer shopping, Amazon consolidates overlapping products into a single listing. But it awards only one of the sellers with Featured Offer status. Often this is referred to as winning the Buy Box.
Understanding the Amazon Buy Box
When shoppers visit a listing, they are presented with all of the details that are available about that product, along with the option to purchase it from the seller currently winning the Buy Box.
An option to view the buying options from alternative sellers is also presented, but shoppers will rarely follow that link. Instead, they have learned to trust Amazon’s decision about the best retailer to purchase the product from.
That’s why the Amazon Buy Box is crucial to a seller’s success on the platform. The path to rising sales and more efficient conversions is often directly tied to a company’s ability to dominate this aspect of Amazon.
Without winning the Buy Box consistently, sellers are stuck fighting for a distant second place. Fortunately, capturing the Buy Box isn’t about being lucky. Instead, it starts with understanding the metrics driving Amazon’s decison and building a strategy that beats out the competition.
The metrics that matter for winning the Amazon Buy Box
When more than one seller carries the same item, chances are high that the Buy Box will occasionally shift between them. In those cases, the goal is for sellers to maximize what Amazon calls their Buy Box Percentage.
Buy Box Percentage (BBP)
Very simply, the Buy Box Percentage reflects how the Buy Box is displayed to shoppers on behalf of a particular seller. It is the number of times you owned the Buy Box when customers viewed the listing, divided by the total number of page visits.
In Seller Central, it is currently labeled as Buy Box Wins and displayed for the previous two days and over a 30-day period. Buy Box Percentage does not indicate product sales or gauge customer interest. It only shows your share of the Buy Box compared to your competitors.
As for the ways to increase your BBP, product quality accounts for a large part of the calculation. Amazon favors products that meet customer expectations, and one metric in particular is weighed heavily when determining which seller earns the Buy Box.
Amazon’s algorithm prioritizes a seller’s Order Defect Rate. According to Amazon, this is a key measure of your ability to provide a good customer experience. It represents the percentage of orders with one or more indicators of poor customer service during a given 60-day time period. Ideally, less than 1% of your orders during the previous 60-day period should result in negative feedback, a valid A-to-Z Guarantee claim, or a credit card chargeback to maintain an attractive defect rate.
Among the most influential Buy Box metrics is price. Amazon wants every seller to give shoppers the best price possible and responds accordingly with their Buy Box decisions. Everything else being equal, the seller offering the lowest price will have the advantage in pursuing the Buy Box.
Of course, lowering the price won’t guarantee a seller attains the Buy Box. The other metrics here will still be taken into account. However, a higher price than your competitors will make it much more difficult unless they are severely deficient in one or more relevant categories.
Amazon’s Buy Box decisions also favor Amazon FBA sellers over most other types of fulfillment. Remember, these sellers are automatically eligible to win the Buy Box. However, self-fulfilled sellers have a much more challenging road to the Buy Box simply because they must keep their fulfillment-related metrics high enough to compete with FBA. In these cases, keeping an account healthy means paying close attention to several benchmarks, including:
- Cancelation Rate – Amazon requires sellers to avoid initiating cancellations and complete at least 97.5% of their orders when they are seller-fulfilled products.
- Late Shipment Rate – Brands that manage shipping on their own must meet their expected shipping date at least 96% of the time.
- Valid Tracking Rate – 95% of your customers need to receive an accurate tracking number for their orders.
- On-Time Delivery Rate – Your orders should arrive when promised more than 97% of the time to be eligible to offer the fastest delivery options on your listings.
For FBA sellers and those that self-fulfill, your customers’ satisfaction with your service can be as important as their experience with your product. The consequences of an unsatisfactory customer experience can lead to negative feedback on your seller account in addition to a poor product review.
A recurring deficiency, especially one related to your customer service, shipping practices or item descriptions, could put your claim to the Buy Box at risk due to a declining seller rating. The good news is that reversing such a trend is possible.
First, similar to bad product reviews, you should try to address the problem directly with a dissatisfied customer using Amazon’s response options. A sincere effort to resolve the issue can go a long way toward regaining that buyer’s trust or having them revise their evaluation.
Next, you should eliminate the conditions that led to critical feedback. Weak product descriptions, shipping delays, or poorly packaged items will continue to result in negative feedback but can be solved if you’re willing to make an effort. Your current feedback rating is available in Seller Central and displayed across a 30-day, 90-day and 365-day window, with the most recent feedback having the greatest impact.
We’ve already established that winning the Buy Box results in new sales. And, somewhat paradoxically, new sales can help you win the Buy Box. Amazon defines Sales Velocity as the number and dollar amount of Seller account transactions during a month. It plays a substantial role in a product’s performance in the platform’s search algorithm. But it can also influence Buy Box placement. The higher your order volume and corresponding sales velocity, the more likely it is that customers are happy with your products, and the better chance you will have at winning the Buy Box.
Optimize your Amazon product listing to compete for the Buy Box
Now that you know what factors determine the Buy Box winner, you can begin to optimize your product listings to become more competitive. Specifically, there are several areas to focus on, according to Amazon.
Monitor your price competitiveness
Amazon offers a few ways to ensure that you’re pricing items competitively. Within Seller Central, the Manage Pricing page will indicate which seller currently has the featured offer and their price. The Pricing Dashboard provides real-time data about your product prices relative to other sellers. Finally, Amazon’s Selling Coach Pricing report will make pricing recommendations for your product.
Offer faster shipping and free shipping
The importance of participating in Amazon’s FBA program is evident for most sellers. With Fulfillment by Amazon, your product is already taking advantage of the fastest, most affordable shipping option, so not much more needs to be done. Although, you’ll want to be sure you’re managing inventory appropriately and up-to-date on Amazon’s latest FBA policies.
If your company relies on Amazon’s Seller-Fulfilled Prime (SFP) or other options, it can be a struggle to compete with FBA. That’s primarily because the brand must ship most products via one-day shipping, which is exceedingly expensive. It typically works only when price points are $100 or more. Secondly, maintaining a competitive shipping schedule is challenging for a warehouse. Even FedEx’s delivery standards are not high enough for SFP, leading to many account suspensions.
Keep stock available
Amazon won’t let you win the Buy Box if you’re out of stock, so it’s critical that you keep your inventory updated and plan for seasonal or promotional surges. One of the tools that Amazon provides to help manage inventory is the Amazon Selling Coach. It provides real-time status reports showing low and out-of-stock inventory alerts, letting you know when to stock up.
These mistakes can cost you the Amazon Buy Box
While it may seem pretty straightforward, there are still plenty of ways for sellers to lose the Buy Box, despite a genuine effort to win it. Often it’s due to a misunderstanding of how to leverage the metrics listed above or a lack of expertise in the business capabilities that underpin these Buy Box metrics.
Overly aggressive price cuts
For example, some sellers may think slashing prices will be the quickest path to the Buy Box. It may work under certain circumstances, but it’s likely to be only a temporary win. Other sellers, possibly Amazon itself, could follow suit and lead to a devastating price war. Regardless of how important the Buy Box is to your sales goals, reducing your margins too far is never a recipe for success.
Taking the Buy Box for granted
Just because a seller achieves Buy Box ownership doesn’t mean they’ll get to keep it. It’s not unusual for sellers to forget how eager competitors are to take it away. So even if you have a product listing to yourself now, you should continue to monitor Amazon regularly for new sellers who may join the fight for the Buy Box. Or, when it seems you have the upper hand on your competitors, you should continue to focus on keeping your account healthy and buy box metrics at a high level to avoid a sudden shift due to complacency.
Running out of stock
As mentioned, an out-of-stock situation may be the fastest way to lose the Buy Box. Amazon will ensure customers have somewhere to buy the products they are searching for. If your brand can’t meet that threshold, the marketplace will quickly pivot to alternative sellers. Whether you’re an FBA seller or not, you cannot underestimate the importance of inventory management and maintaining the ability to fulfill orders consistently.
Juggling too many Amazon responsibilities
Amazon can be overwhelming, even for experienced e-commerce retailers. Between the optimization, marketing, logistics and analytics, it’s often too much for a single individual or even small teams. In addition, it’s not unusual for Amazon’s policies or algorithm to change suddenly. Sometimes a lack of capacity or shortage of expertise is enough to make holding on to the Buy Box harder than it would be with the appropriate resources.
Winning is easier with Amify
Amify helped a natural skincare brand overcome its out-of-stock challenges and improve account health leading 93% Buy Box Percentage. Now, our expert team of Amazon specialists is ready to help your product listings dominate the competition.
Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about our capabilities. It’s the only way to discover how comprehensive, optimized Amazon services from a full-service business can result in reaching your goals on the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace.