Amazon

Winning the Amazon Buy Box [Algorithm Tips for 2024]

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By Emily Sullivan

Amazon generates over $500 billion in sales every year, and of those conversions, over 83% occur using Amazon’s Buy Box. This means that if you want to increase your Amazon sales, winning the Buy Box on the product detail page is pivotal. 

Whether you want to get your products in the Buy Box for the first time or the hundredth time, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here with the experts to answer all your frequently asked questions about the Amazon Buy Box and how you can win it

Table of Contents:

What Is the Buy Box on Amazon?

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 with a highly visible box that says, “Buy Now.” On Amazon, this Buy Now box lets shoppers make instant purchases right from the product detail page. 

example of amazon buy box indicated with a red square

Each product on Amazon has its own product detail page, which can include the same products from multiple different sellers. For Amazon sellers, this means that getting visibility on Amazon’s product pages sometimes proves a significant challenge — one that’s harder than getting visibility on other sales channels.

Note: These products must be new to appear in the buy box.

Amazon (and the Amazon Buy Box algorithm or formula) controls whose products show up in the Buy Box rotations, so you have to play by Amazon’s rules. And remember: Amazon.com isn’t just a marketplace — it’s also a seller and may sometimes be your toughest competition.

Why Is the Buy Box Important to Amazon Sellers?

Simply put, whether or not you have the Amazon Buy Box can make or break your sales, and here’s why.

When a user clicks the “Add to Cart” button, they’re buying from one merchant and one merchant only: the Buy Box winner. This makes winning the Buy Box 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 the amazon buy box for e.l.f. power grip primer

In addition to being prime real estate to increase your sales, winning the Buy Box means customers associate you with Amazon’s policies. When your product is in the Amazon Buy Box, shoppers believe they can trust you to provide high-quality customer service and top-notch products.

The Buy Box is a crucial element in the competitive landscape of Amazon because it significantly increases a seller’s chances of making a sale by providing a convenient and trusted purchasing option for customers. Winning the Buy Box often results in a boost in sales as most Amazon shoppers tend to default to the Buy Box option when making a purchase, giving the Buy Box holder a competitive edge. The Buy Box also influences customer behavior as it instills a sense of trust and reliability, making customers more likely to complete their purchases without extensively comparing other options.

If you run Amazon ads within Amazon Seller Central, 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 Sponsored Brands Ads (SBAs) running, you risk paying for traffic to a page where another seller gets the sale since SBAs aren’t Buy Box-dependent.

Winning the Buy Box is also key to converting mobile shoppers. When shoppers use Amazon’s mobile site, they need to scroll far past the Buy Box to the “Other sellers on Amazon” section, then tap an arrow to open that information in a new page. This additional friction can make it more difficult to convert mobile users, which represent the majority of Amazon’s unique monthly visitors.

How Does Amazon’s Algorithm Decide Who Appears in the Buy Box?

Amazon determines the Buy Box winner based on price, fulfillment and seller rating plus other factors 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 rotations may change over time.

Professional Seller Account

Only Professional Seller accounts are eligible to win the Amazon Buy Box – an individual seller account won’t cut it. The good news is that anyone can get Professional Seller status with Amazon Seller Central. This subscription-based service requires a monthly fee on top of your selling fees, but it confers numerous advantages, including the ability to win the Amazon Buy Box.

Note: If you’re a European seller, you’ll need a Pro-Merchant Account.

Length of Time on Amazon

Professional sellers who’ve been on Amazon longer have a better chance of winning Buy Box rotations. This advantage occurs because Amazon can see a proven track record of successful sales that rate highly with customers and intuit that your business will continue operating at high performance levels going forward.

Merchants Must Sell New Items

Only new products are eligible for winning Buy Box rotations, so the Amazon algorithm automatically excludes listings selling used products. This rule lets shoppers feel confident that they’ll always receive new goods in an undamaged state when they click the Amazon Buy Box.

Consistent Inventory Available

If you don’t have any products to sell, it naturally follows that you won’t win the Buy Box. But Amazon also favors professional sellers who keep consistent levels of inventory, making it imperative to properly stock your products. For that reason, sellers should keep an eye on their Inventory Performance Index (IPI) score.

The Lower the Price, the Better

Competitive pricing that includes taxes, shipping and handling matter to the Amazon Buy Box algorithm. Simply put, the lower your landed price, the higher your chances of winning the Buy Box. 

Efficient Delivery

If you’re using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), then this factor doesn’t matter as much as Amazon itself is responsible for your shipping times. Those who fulfill orders themselves, however, should understand that the Buy Box algorithm looks at promised and actual shipping times to determine if you win the coveted spot.

Good Seller Metrics

The Amazon Buy Box algorithm uses your performance metrics to determine whether you win the Buy Box or not. These metrics include refund, cancellation and late shipment rates, so it’s important to keep those incidences low and provide excellent products and customer service. You can monitor your metrics on Amazon Seller Central.

Order Defect Rates

If you want to win the Buy Box, keep things like negative feedback, A-Z claims and chargebacks to a minimum. The Amazon algorithm looks at each of these factors over the short and long-term to determine if your products are eligible for Buy Box rotations — and even if you can continue selling.

Customer Service Quality

Two factors come into play with customer experience and service quality — your customer response time and customer dissatisfaction rate. Amazon requires professional sellers seeking the Buy Box to respond to customer inquiries within 24 hours and favors sellers who get consistent high marks from customer surveys after the sale.

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How to Win the Amazon Buy Box: 9 Key Factors

Amazon favors reliable professional sellers — they’re more likely to ship products on time, sell high-quality products and offer superior customer service. Just like Amazon. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the top factors that affect your Buy Box eligibility are product pricing and fulfillment methods and metrics. 

Although that may seem like common sense, winning the Buy Box is a bit harder in practice. Not to worry – here are some actionable ways to improve your chances.

1. Check Your Eligibility Status

First, make sure your products are Buy Box eligible. Here’s how to determine the status of your listings:

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 under “Reports > By ASIN > Detail Page Sales and Traffic by Child Item.”

2. Use Fulfillment by Amazon

If you’re just starting out with a new Seller Central account and you’re not using FBA, you might 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 Fulfillment by Amazon, however, you’ll be approved for the Buy Box much faster since they have the inventory on hand and don’t have to guess what you have in stock.

Brand new seller central accounts that are Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) are not eligible for the Buy Box unless they make sufficient sales volume, determined by Amazon and varying by category.

Amazon Seller Central allows merchants to use their own fulfillment process or fulfillment providers to sell on Amazon. That said, FBA is becoming the most popular choice due to its benefits in the Buy Box and elsewhere. 

If you want a leg up in the Buy Box game, you should really go with Fulfillment by Amazon. FBA means Amazon warehouses store, pack and ship some or all your product. Because Amazon has physical control over your inventory, they can better guarantee quality and quantity — two major factors for placement in the Buy Box. 

There are some products that wouldn’t do well sitting in a warehouse. 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 a standard that’s comparable to Amazon’s own.

Screenshot of Amazon product page where Buy Box is Fulfilled By Merchant (FBM)

3. …Or Use Seller-Fulfilled Prime

Seller-Fulfilled Prime extends an exclusive opportunity to high-performing Fulfillment By Merchant (FBM) sellers, granting them access to the privileges of Amazon Prime while maintaining full control over their shipping process. This fulfillment approach combines the best of both worlds:

Control Over Shipments: With Seller-Fulfilled Prime, sellers can exercise direct oversight of their shipping operations. This is good for sellers dealing with weighty products, as it allows them to bypass the additional fees associated with Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service.

Enhanced Buy Box Potential: By opting for Seller-Fulfilled Prime, sellers increase their odds of winning the Buy Box. This not only elevates their product visibility but also provides an outlet to connect with Amazon Prime members.

It’s worth noting that not all FBM sellers are eligible for this program. Eligibility hinges on maintaining exceptional overall metrics, including a low order defect rate, on-time shipment performance, and minimal order cancellations.

While Amazon FBA is often considered the most straightforward and effective way of securing the Buy Box, Seller-Fulfilled Prime offers a compelling alternative for sellers looking to maintain control over their fulfillment strategy.

4. Provide Fast Shipping

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. In an ideal scenario, your late dispatch rate (LDR) should be no more than 4%. 

For time-sensitive and perishable items, shipping varies, but Amazon generally weighs shipping based on the following shipping time frames for Amazon professional sellers:

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 humanly possible.

5. Keep a Low Landed Price

The second biggest factor in winning the Buy Box is affordable pricing, so you need to consider 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. 

The key here is to offer the lowest prices, or at least prices that are consistent with other merchants on the site. Of course, many Amazon professional 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, however, so 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:

That being said, when a product is extremely popular and professional sellers are on par with each other in terms of pricing and fulfillment, other factors become more important.

6. Maintain a High Feedback Score

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 comprises orders from the preceding 365 days, but it’s also 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 decide on which seller to purchase from. Many sellers don’t realize that Seller Feedback is far different than Product Feedback. Customers 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.

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 file a case and Amazon will remove it.

screenshot of product reviews on a Amazon seller’s profile
Example of product ratings being placed incorrectly on the Seller’s Profile

7. Improve Inventory Depth and Sales Volume

If you have one unit left and another seller has 30 units left, that other seller will get an edge in the Buy Box.

Amazon wants shoppers to find what they’re looking for, so 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’re selling on the Amazon marketplace and using your own fulfillment process (FBM), be sure to have inventory management and fulfillment aligned so that your products are always in stock. Ideally, you want to do this for most of your inventory.

At the bare minimum, you should ensure you have plenty of inventory for best-selling products. Remember, for professional 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.

8. Respond to Customers Within 24 Hours

When seller’s sign up with Amazon, they agree to the company’s Service Level Agreement (SLA). This agreement requires professional sellers to answer customer queries within a 24-hour window, making it imperative to stay on top of customer response time. Reply on time, and if you can’t, at least reply as soon as you can. Failure to respond in the proper time frame may sabotage your chances for winning the Buy Box.

9. Maintain a Defect Rate of 1% or Lower

Your defect rate is a measure of your performance, not only with handling customers, but also with your shipping times and even product quality. With that in mind, Amazon looks carefully at your order defect rate (ODR) to determine your Buy Box eligibility. The algorithm looks at both short and long-term negative feedback, A-Z claims and chargebacks when determining this, then creates a score for sellers.

If a seller has an ODR of 1% or higher, they usually don’t have much of a shot at the Buy Box. To counter this, keep close track of your performance metrics with a daily review. Aim to keep refund and cancellation rates below 2.5% to keep your ODR score under 1% and improve your chances for the Buy Box.

All Known Metrics for the Amazon Buy Box Algorithm

This section is the most crucial if you’re fulfilling orders yourself under Seller-Fulfilled Prime. While FBA sellers may need to work on some of these metrics, Amazon handles most of these issues around shipping and customer service. Amazon calculates your Seller-Fulfilled seller rating based on a few key metrics:

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.

You might notice that the metric, Perfect Order Percentage, is no longer in use. That’s because they have replaced it with more specific and detailed metrics to provide sellers with a better understanding of their performance, such as those we’ve listed above. These metrics offer a more granular view of seller performance and allow for easier identification and resolution of specific issues, making them more informative and actionable for sellers.

Remember — Amazon favors reliable sellers. They’re more likely to ship products on time, sell high-quality products and offer a superior customer experience. Just like Amazon.

How Amazon’s Buy Box Percentage Works

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, four 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%. 

How to Optimize Your Pricing & Win the Buy Box

Since Amazon views product prices in a “the cheaper the better” way, it’s often tempting to drop your prices below that of competitors to gain a competitive advantage. What works for someone doing high volumes of sales of generic items, however, usually doesn’t work for smaller-scale sellers of specialty or handmade goods. Keep how you do business in mind when choosing between the following pricing strategies to help you win the Amazon Buy Box.

Manual Repricing

Manually adjusting your prices to win the Amazon Buy Box can be effective, but it’s time-consuming and may not be feasible for sellers with numerous SKUs. It’s particularly useful for sellers with a limited product range or those facing little competition.

Rule-based Pricing

Rule-based repricers are straightforward, suitable for those aiming to undercut competitors by a fixed amount, but they may trigger pricing wars and undervalue products with strong seller metrics for the Buy Box.

Algorithmic Repricing

Algorithmic repricers use machine learning to optimize pricing based on overall product profitability, considering various factors beyond price. They analyze Amazon metrics to strike a balance between Buy Box ownership and profit per sale.

Does Amazon Always Win the Buy Box?

Not always. While Amazon often competes strongly for the Buy Box due to its vast inventory and competitive pricing, it is not guaranteed to win it for every product listing.

Why Is Nobody Winning the Buy Box for a Listing?

You’ve optimized your performance metrics and you’re exceeding expectations. You’re doing everything right, but you’re still not getting the Buy Box rotations. Instead, you’re seeing something like the image below:

Screenshot of Amazon product page for toy without a buy box winner

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 experts at Tinuiti, here are three theories on why no one has the Buy Box:

Another factor that may interfere with your presence in Buy Box rotations is unauthorized sellers. If you’re an authorized reseller and encounter unauthorized sellers practically giving away the product, you can contact those resellers and let them know you’re aware of their presence. Also, you might let them know you’ll take action, either by notifying Amazon or contacting your attorney.

Conclusion

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. 

Wondering how your store can secure more sales this year? Check out our 2024 Amazon Guide.

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