If you want to increase your Amazon sales, winning the buy box on the product detail page is pivotal. Retailers featured on Amazon’s buy box sell more products. We all know this.
Whether you want to get your products in the buy box for the first time or to get your 100th product in the buy box, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here with the experts to answer all of your Amazon buy box FAQs.
Table of Contents
What is the Buy Box on Amazon?
How Does the Amazon Buy Box Work?
Amazon Buy Box Eligibility
How to Win the Amazon Buy Box
How to Fix Low Amazon Buy Box Percentages
If No One Owns the Buy Box
The Amazon buy box is a section on the right side of an Amazon product detail page where customers can add a product to their cart or “buy now.”
What does buy now mean on Amazon? The “Buy Now” button in the Amazon buy box lets shoppers make an instant purchase right from the product detail page.
Example of FBA product in the buy box
Each product on Amazon has its own product detail page, which can include the same products from different sellers. For Amazon sellers, this means getting visibility on Amazon’s product pages is a significant challenge — one that’s harder than getting visibility on other sales channels.
Amazon (and the Amazon buy box algorithm or buy box formula) controls whose products show up in the buy box, so you have to play by Amazon’s rules. And Amazon.com isn’t just a marketplace; it’s also a seller.
The buy box can make or break your Amazon sales.
When a user clicks the “Add to Cart” button, they’re buying from one merchant and one merchant only: the buy box winner. This is especially crucial now that there’s a “Buy Now” button in addition to the add to cart button — the “Buy Now” button always leads to a purchase from the buy box owner.
Example of “buy now” button on an Amazon listing
In addition to being prime real estate to increase your sales, winning the buy box means customers will associate you with Amazon’s policies. When your product is in the Amazon buy box, shoppers believe that they can trust you to provide high-quality customer service and top-notch products.
If you run Amazon ads, there’s another even more compelling reason to care about whether you own the buy box: When a product loses the buy box, all Sponsored Products ads stop running. And if you have Headline Search Ads (HSAs) running, you risk paying for traffic to a page where another seller is going to get the sale — HSAs aren’t Buy Box-dependent.
“When a product loses the buy box, all Sponsored Products ads stop running, which can negatively impact overall sales, sales velocity, and organic ranking of a given product,” says Karen Hopkins, Senior Marketplace Programmatic Analyst at Tinuiti.
To be eligible for the Amazon buy box, you must be a subscription-based Professional Seller who meets Amazon’s buy box criteria and have products that are buy box eligible.
Amazon buy box factors include:
- Order defect rate
- Performance metrics
- Customer service quality
- Length of time on Amazon
How does Amazon choose the buy box winner?
Amazon determines the buy box winner based on price, fulfillment, seller rating, and more factors that we’ll cover in a bit. However, it’s not a perfect science. Because the factors that determine buy box eligibility are always in flux, the winner of the buy box may change over time.
A note about new Seller Central accounts using fulfilled-by-merchant (FBM)
If you are just starting out with a new Seller Central account, and you’re not shipping with Amazon Fulfillment (FBA), then you’re going to notice a lag time before your products hit the buy box.
This is because Amazon doesn’t have proof that you actually have the products or ability to fill product orders once you’re in the buy box. If you use FBA, however, you will be approved for the buy box much faster.
“Brand new seller central accounts that are FBM are not eligible for the buy box unless they make sufficient sales volume, determined by Amazon and varying by category,” says Joe Selzer, Associate Director of Marketplace Support at Tinuiti.
First, make sure your products are Buy Box eligible. Here’s how to tell if you are buy box eligible:
- Go to the “Manage Inventory” section in your Seller Central account.
- In the right-hand corner, click “Preferences” then “Buy Box Eligible” in the dropdown menu. This will add another column that simply states yes or no for Buy Box Eligibility on your products.
- If you want a birds-eye view of your products and their current buy box percentages, you can view this under Reports in Seller Central “Reports > By ASIN > Detail Page Sales and Traffic by Child Item”.
Here are 7 ways to improve your Amazon buy box eligibility:
- Know the top two factors that affect your buy box eligibility
- Select the right fulfillment method
- Make sure that your product’s landed price is affordable
- Build your Amazon account health
- Speed up your shipping time (FBM Only)
- Improve your Seller Feedback score
- Keep products in stock
1. Know the top two factors that affect your buy box eligibility
What affects buy box eligibility?
The top two factors that affect your buy box eligibility are:
- Product pricing
- Fulfillment methods and metrics
It seems like common sense that you should ship items correctly and on time, respond to questions quickly, and keep your inventory up-to-date and well-stocked. (Hint: FBA Inventory Replenishment can help with that.)
That being said, when a product is extremely popular and sellers are on par with each other in terms of pricing and fulfillment, other factors become more important.
2. Select the right fulfillment method
Amazon allows merchants to use their own fulfillment process or fulfillment providers to sell on Amazon. That said, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is becoming the most popular choice due to its benefits in the buy box and elsewhere.
FBA means that Amazon houses, packs, and ships some or all of your products. Because Amazon has physical control over your inventory, they can better guarantee quality and quantity — and placement in the FBA buy box.
We’ve alluded to this a couple of times already, but if you want a leg up in the buy box game, you should really go with FBA.
“There are some situations where you have to be FBM, but not many reasons for most sellers,” says Selzer. “It seems there are very few FBM-only sellers left on Amazon.”
There are some products that wouldn’t do well sitting in a warehouse for months on end. For instance, if you sell perishable goods such as cookies, and you don’t want to ship all of those at once to a warehouse only to let them get stale, then FBA might not work for you.
The same goes for an established brand manufacturer with a strong built-in infrastructure for shipping. There may also be instances where some of your products are FBA, and others are FBM.
But keep in mind if you’re FBM, you need to be shipping products and dealing with customers at Amazon’s high standards.
Example of a Seller Fulfilled Product (FBM)
3. Make sure that your product’s landed price is affordable
The second biggest factor in winning the buy box is affordable pricing.
What is Amazon’s landed price? The landed price is the total price an Amazon product goes for, including shipping and handling costs. The lower the landed price, the more likely you are to win the buy box.
Keep your prices low and consistent with other merchants on the site. Of course, many Amazon sellers are constantly changing prices to edge one another out on the buy box.
This shouldn’t be a blind race to the top of the buy box — don’t make your prices lower than you can afford. Determine whether you can afford to own the buy box at its current price by considering your:
- Amazon seller fees
- Return cost
- Shipping costs
- Amazon budget
4. Build your Amazon account health
This section is the most crucial if you’re fulfilling orders yourself. FBA performance metrics look much different because Amazon handles most of these issues around shipping and customer service.
Amazon favors reliable sellers — they’re more likely to ship products on time, sell high-quality products, and offer superior customer service. Just like Amazon.
Amazon calculates your Seller-Fulfilled seller rating based on a few key metrics:
Order Defect Rate (Target = < 1%)
- Negative Feedback Rate
- Filed A to Z Claim Rate
- Service Chargeback Rate
Return Dissatisfaction Rate (Target = < 10%)
- Negative Return Feedback Rate
- Late Response Rate
- Invalid Rejection Rate
Buyer-Seller Contact Metrics (Target = < 25%)
- Response Times Under 24 Hours (Target = > 90%)
- Late Responses (Target = < 10%)
- Average Response Time
Recent Customer Metrics Data
- Pre-Fulfillment Cancel Rate (Target = < 2.5%)
- Late Shipment Rate (Target = < 4%)
- Refund Rate
Valid Tracking Rate
- By Category (Targets = > 90%)
- Delivered on Time (Target = > 97%)
Amazon’s standards for these metrics are aggressive — especially when it comes to buy box eligibility. Amazon’s strict fulfillment standards also impact price competitiveness as quicker shipping often costs more, and can increase the total cost of items sold on Amazon. You can get an overall picture under “Account Health” in your Seller Central.
5. Speed up your shipping time (FBM Only)
If you don’t use FBA, seller shipping impacts buy box ownership and overlaps with pricing and availability. Amazon calculates how well you’re doing with shipping based on your projected shipping time and actual shipping time
For time-sensitive and perishable items, shipping varies, but Amazon generally weighs shipping based on the following shipping time frames for Amazon sellers:
- 0-2 Days
- 3-7 Days
- 8-13 Days
- 14+ days
Remember, Amazon customers don’t just expect cheap or free shipping — thanks to Amazon Prime, they also expect their packages to arrive faster than you thought was humanly possible.
6. Improve your Seller Feedback rating
Your Amazon feedback rating is constantly updated based on aggregate reviews from Amazon orders and is an average of all seller feedback ratings. Your feedback rating is comprised of orders from the preceding 365 days but is weighted heavier for orders from the last 90 days.
The Amazon Seller Feedback system was created so that Amazon customers can see other buyers’ experiences with different sellers — and use them to make a decision on which seller to purchase from. Many sellers don’t realize that Seller Feedback is far different than Product Feedback. Customers will often mistakenly leave product reviews on Seller Feedback pages, which can be especially damaging if you’re seeing a lot of negative reviews.
“Shoppers may sometimes leave a product review on your seller feedback, which is a problem for your seller score. Fortunately, you can reach out to Amazon about the issue, and they’ll typically rectify it quickly. “You can go to Amazon through a case and say, ‘this is incorrect, this feedback is product-related’ and Amazon will remove it,” Selzer says.
Additionally, if it’s an FBA product and someone leaves a seller rating that’s negative about packaging or shipping — which is Amazon’s responsibility, in that case — you can start a case and Amazon will remove it.
Example of product ratings being placed incorrectly on the Seller’s Profile
7. Keep products in stock
“If you have one unit left and another seller has 30 units left, that other seller will get an edge in the buy box,” says Selzer .
Amazon wants shoppers to find what they’re looking for. If your item is out of stock, Amazon will get it from another seller. The more you can maintain product stock the more likely you can influence winning the buy box. If you are selling on the Amazon marketplace using your own fulfillment (FBM), be sure to have inventory management and fulfillment aligned so that your products are always in stock. Ideally, you’d want to do this for the majority of your inventory.
At the bare minimum, you should ensure you have plenty of inventory for best-selling products. Remember, for sellers using FBA, availability is determined by the products in Amazon’s warehouse, not what’s in your warehouse or in the process of getting shipped to Amazon. Keep delivery time and fulfillment processing in mind when sending products to Amazon.
Keeping your inventory information up to date is just as important as having inventory available. If you tell Amazon a product is available, and you can’t fulfill an order, you run the risk of incurring negative reviews — a major factor for seller ratings.
What is the Amazon buy box percentage?
Amazon buy box percentage is a metric that tells you how often your product shows up in the Amazon buy box. If a product is viewed 100 times and your product shows up in the buy box 80 of those times, then your buy box percentage is 80%. In a perfect world, 4 sellers who sell the same product at the same price and have the same performance metrics and inventory levels, each seller would get a buy box percentage of 25%.
We’re not offering a “magic bullet” that will enable you to always ensure you get the buy box. That would be like promising Amazon will never make a change to their seller experience ever again. (It won’t happen.) But if you notice one of your top sellers is being edged out of the buy box and you know it’s not because of the above factors, there are some adjustments you can make to compete.
1. Price to win the Amazon buy box
You can price to win the Amazon buy box manually, by watching competitors’ products and adjusting your SKUs accordingly, but most of us don’t have the time — or have too many SKUs — to accomplish this.
That’s where Amazon repricer tools come in. There are two different kinds of repricer tools out there:
- Rule-based repricers: Based on a simple rules setup
- Algorithmic pricers: Focused around overall profitability
Rule-based repricers are pretty basic. If you simply want your product to be $1 less than anyone else’s on that listing, and you aren’t overly concerned about potential margin loss, then that type of repricer might be right for you.
If you’re looking for a tool with machine-learning algorithms that will kick in based on your overall product profitability, an algorithmic pricer like Feedvisor is a great option.
2. Confront unauthorized resellers
If you’re a brand with a very specific set of authorized resellers, you may discover some of your most profitable SKUs are being plagued by unauthorized sellers that are basically giving your product away for free.
In that case, you will want to reach out and let those resellers know that you’re aware of their presence, and will be forced to take action if they don’t cease selling your product. As much as you want to avoid taking these cases to court, having a lawyer to back you up really helps.
3. Consider using FBA
As we said before, FBA gives you an edge when it comes to winning the buy box. If it makes sense for one of your products to be shipped by Amazon, use FBA!
You’ve optimized your performance metrics and you’re exceeding expectations. You’ve booted your unauthorized sellers. You’re doing everything right, but you’re still not getting the buy box. Instead, you’re seeing something like the image below:
In this example, nobody gets the buy box! This is something we’ve noticed here at Tinuiti, and you may have noticed it as well.
There are several theories floating around about why this happens, according to Pat Petriello, Director of Amazon at Tinuiti Here are three theories on why no one has the buy box:
1. Dramatic price increases or decreases
The most common reason is a sudden and “substantial” price change for the seller winning the buy box, regardless of who the seller is. Amazon is taking extra precautions to protect consumers from potential counterfeit goods which are listed at substantially reduced prices.
2. Violation of price parity across channels
If you’re selling your product for a lower price on your website or another channel, you could be penalized by Amazon. Make sure this isn’t the case.
3. Uptick in customer complaints about defective products
If Amazon notices an uptick in customer complaints about a product, they may protect customers by temporarily removing the buy box while they investigate the complaints about defective or misrepresented products.
Conclusion: Win the Amazon buy box
With standout placement and easy purchasing functions, scoring a spot in an Amazon buy box can mean huge things for your product performance. Winning the buy box can mean the difference between making a sale and sitting on the sidelines while another merchant does.
But don’t think of winning the buy box as a permanent thing. Winning the buy box is an ongoing process where sellers earn a share of the buy box for a period of time-based on a variety of factors.
The factors that influence how long and how often you rent the buy box are variables that you can change and optimize to increase your buy box sessions and sales, including pricing, fulfillment, and your seller rating.
Looking for an agency to assist you with your Amazon selling endeavors? Check out our Amazon agency buying guide to learn how to choose the right agency for you – and why Tinuiti might be that agency.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.