In this guide, we explain what the Amazon Buy Box is, the factors deciding who gets it and how you can win the Buy Box.
Over 80% of orders are placed with Amazon Buy Box sellers. This highlights the incredible importance of winning the Amazon Buy Box position.
Dominating the Buy Box can make the difference between success and failure as an Amazon FBA seller.
“Over 80% of orders are placed with Amazon Buy Box sellers,”
Here are some rules of thumb for how the Buy Box will generally work;
- FBA sellers can usually price 10-15% higher than FBM sellers and still win the Buy Box.
- FBA sellers that match the Buy Box price will generally share in a percentage of the total orders.
A lot of Amazon sellers think winning the Buy Box is as simple as having the lowest price.
This is often not the case and there are many other complex factors involved in the Amazon Buy Box algorithm.
What Is the Amazon Buy Box?
If you have the Buy Box it means you are the main default seller of that product. If the customer clicks ‘Add to Cart’ it will be your product they are ordering.
The Buy Box seller gets a majority of the orders for the product.
The ‘Other Sellers on Amazon’ Box
If you are eligible but do not actually win the Buy Box you may still be one of the three sellers to appear in the ‘Other Sellers on Amazon’ box.
These sellers will still get a reasonable percentage of the orders and will often rotate with the main Buy Box seller.
The Amazon Offer Listing Page
All remaining sellers will appear on this separate page which buyers have to click through to. Offers are listed purely based on the total delivered price (Item Price + Shipping).
FBA and FBM sellers will all be treated equally and no other metrics are considered here.
When customers click through to this page, additional factors will come into play when they are deciding who to buy from.
If you have 100% feedback, are a business seller, have a great store name, are an LLC or LTD company then the customer is more likely to place their order with you even if you are not the cheapest.
Buyers are also shown the lead time for each seller which will be an important factor in their decision.
The Amazon Buy Box on Mobile or App
This is a very different experience for buyers and being the Buy Box seller becomes even more important.
There is no clear link through to ‘Other sellers’ on either the app or mobile versions of the site and buyers have to really search for it. This means the Buy Box seller gets an even higher percentage of the total orders placed.
Requirements for Buy Box Eligibility
1. Professional Account. Amazon states officially that only sellers with Professional Accounts can be eligible for the Buy Box.
2. New Items. Your items must be new to be eligible. Used items will compete separately in the ‘Buy Used Box’
Amazon will evaluate all the sellers who are competing for the Buy Box. Sellers that meet the minimum requirements will then be eligible to take a share.
The share of the Buy Box, and therefore orders, each seller gets will be based on Amazons Buy Box algorithm which evaluates your metrics and offer.
Example: A seller with ‘perfect’ metrics, and lots of stock, who has recently sold 500 units of a product may spend 75% of the day as the Buy Box seller. The five remaining eligible sellers may only get a 5% share of the day each.
How Do I Check If I Am Eligible to Compete for the Buy Box?
For US-based sellers go to your ‘Inventory’ page and then click on ‘Manage Inventory’ and ‘Preferences’. For the ‘Buy Box Eligible’ field select ‘Show When Available’.
You can then check each of your ASINS for eligibility.
A second method is to type ‘buy box’ in the search bar on Seller Central. This should then show a tool for checking individual ASINS for eligibility.
How to Check Your Buy Box Percentage Share
It can be very useful to keep monitoring the percentage share you are achieving for each ASIN.
To view your Buy Box percentage simply go to your Amazon Seller Central ‘Reports’. Then look at ‘Business Reports‘ and then ‘By ASIN – Detail Page Sales and Traffic’.
This will give you a rundown of the percentage share you are currently getting for each of your ASINS.
What Happens When Amazon Is Also a Seller?
When calculating the share of the Buy Box Amazon is treated like any other FBA seller but is presumed to have ‘perfect’ metrics.
This means if you also have ‘perfect’ metrics you can still beat Amazon on price, stock levels, sales history or other factors.
“Don’t be scared of competing directly with Amazon,”
We often beat Amazon when we go head to head for the Buy Box even when we have a higher price. Don’t be scared of competing directly with Amazon.
10 Deciding Factors When Competing for the Buy Box
Here are the 10 main factors that play a role in who wins the Buy Box in order of the biggest impact.
- Fulfillment Method Used
- Shipping Lead Time
- Order Defect Rate
- Your Sales History for the Product
- Shipments and Tracking Rate
- Seller Feedback
- Customer Response Time
- Stock Levels
1. Fulfillment Method Used – One of the main reasons we always recommend people use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is that it hugely increases your chance of winning the Buy Box.
You can be equal in all other factors with a Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) seller and still beat them to the Buy Box even if your price is higher.
For sellers with great fulfillment metrics, Amazon has now offered them the chance to use Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP). This is a halfway house between FBA and FBM.
Your customers get the advantages of buying through Prime and are therefore a lot more likely to purchase from you. Using Seller Fulfilled Prime will also increase your chances of winning the Buy Box vs standard FBM sellers.
FBA – Fulfillment by Amazon – this is where you ship your stock to the Amazon warehouse and they take care of fulfillment and customer service.
FBM – Fulfillment by Merchant – this is when you ship orders to your customers directly and deal with customer service.
SFP – Seller Fulfilled Prime – this is where you store the products in your warehouse but offer express Prime shipping using Amazons approved carriers.
2. Price – this seems the most obvious way to win the Buy Box but it is not as simple as having the lowest delivered price.
The better your metrics the higher your price can be against other eligible sellers and still win.
PRO TIP: Pricing is important to note when looking at your general Amazon selling strategy. Maintaining great metrics means you can win more Buy Boxes at higher prices and therefore have a healthier and more profitable business. For example, it is a fact that FBM sellers with perfect metrics can beat FBA sellers even when their price is higher.
3. Shipping Lead Time – this has a big impact and is another reason why using FBA gives you an advantage.
It’s all about the customer experience and if you have a lead time of 3-7 days you are going to struggle to beat FBA sellers.
4. Availability – you can now set your items to be ‘back-ordered’ and FBA items are often automatically available for back-order. This is when customers can still order a product that is not immediately available.
You can even win the Buy Box against other eligible sellers with back-ordered stock if you beat them on other factors.
Amazon wants to make the most products available for purchase at any time from the best sellers at the best price. If you have stock on the way to the FBA warehouse Amazon will put you into the mix and you can still win the Buy Box.
5. Order Defect Rate – ODR is a combination of negative feedback, A-Z claims and chargebacks.
If you go over the 1% acceptable rate then this will have a serious impact on eligibility for the Buy Box. It may also put your account at risk of suspension so keep monitoring this.
One bad feedback or A-Z claim can suddenly lose you a lot of your Buy Boxes and therefore have a huge impact on your profits.
6. Your Sales History for the Product – we have often beaten lower-priced sellers, and even Amazon themselves, purely because we have been in the Buy Box for the longest and sold the most.
This is a self-fulfilling rule – the longer you have the Buy Box the more units you sell therefore the more likely you are to win the Buy Box.
7. Shipments and Tracking Rate – if you are an FBM seller and want any chance of competing you need to maintain your ‘Valid Tracking Rate‘ close to 100% and also your ‘Late shipment Rate’ below 4%.
Amazon will not put you forward for customers to buy from if you have proven to offer a poor service.
8. Seller Feedback – your most recent seller feedback rating will have a significant impact on whether you win the Buy Box.
9. Customer Response Time – it might not seem important but we have witnessed the importance of this ourselves. We had held the Buy Box for a good period of time on a very profitable product. All other metrics and our competition remained the same. We had one message that went over the 24 hour response time and we lost the Buy Box on that product instantly.
This cost us a lot in profits and it took over a month to win it back. This demonstrates how important it is to maintain perfect scores on all your metrics.
10. Stock Levels – yes, this does play a role. It is also a simple way to help decide whether you should stock a product or try to compete with Amazon.
If the Buy Box seller has hundreds of units in stock then they will be difficult to displace even if you go lower on price. If all the other sellers have just one or two units and you come in with ten, even as a new seller you may be able to win the Buy Box.
For FBM sellers if you have a high pre-order cancellation rate, refund rate or return dissatisfaction rate this will also have an impact on eligibility.
Now you know all about how the Amazon Buy Box works – but what strategies can you use to actually win it?
The 5 Best Strategies for Winning the Buy Box
You need to weigh up the quickest and most cost-effective ways to increase your Buy Box eligibility. For example, you may not be able to offer free or fast shipping but all sellers can maintain perfect metrics.
Let’s look at some of the options available to increase Buy Box share.
- Sell Using Amazon FBA and Not FBM
- Reduce Your Order Defect Rate
- Improve Your Recent Sales History on the Product
- Improve Your Seller Feedback Rating
- Use Intelligent Pricing
1. Sell Using Amazon FBA and Not FBM
Being an FBA seller will have the biggest immediate impact on Buy Box eligibility. Being FBA will also lead to improvements in other criteria such as feedback, shipping time etc. So this one change can make a massive difference.
A lot of new sellers start with FBM and then plan to try FBA if things work out. These sellers will be new and FBM and therefore are unlikely to win any Buy Boxes. Therefore they don’t get orders and give up.
If you are determined to do FBM longer term you should still start with FBA.
Remember not only does it give you these Buy Box advantages it also means less work and more profit on most items.
If you sell on other platforms and want to control your inventory remember you can still use Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF). With MCF you can fulfil orders from other platforms from your FBA inventory.
Another option is to just maintain a minimum stock level at FBA and replenish it when required.
It is an uphill struggle to compete on Amazon if you are not FBA and most sellers who quit are FBM. If you are still determined to remain FBM then at least aim for Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP).
2. Reduce Your Order Defect Rate
Is your ODR over, or about to go over, 1%? A good strategy is to quickly increase order volume which therefore reduces your ODR%.
Choose a low value, high demand, small product which you can source in bulk. Make sure you can win the Buy Box with either a small profit or even a small loss.
Price to win the Buy Box and you should get a high volume of orders in a short period of time which will then drop your ODR%. Even if you lose $1 per sale it is a good investment as losing Buy Box eligibility can prove very costly.
PRO TIP: This is also a good way to avoid being suspended for a high ODR%. If you get suspended you will have to appeal which can take weeks or months to resolve and you will not be getting any orders while you wait.
3. Improve Your Recent Sales History on the Product
So what do you do if another seller is dominating the Buy Box for your ASIN? Your best strategy may be to win the Buy Box by undercutting them even if this means losing money in the short-term.
Your recent sales history will then improve and Amazon is more likely to let you keep the Buy Box. Amazon seems to look at sales volume over the last 7-10 days when calculating this.
You can then gradually increase your price while still holding the Buy Box as your recent sales volume keeps increasing.
We have managed to go 20% or more over competitors pricing and still keep the Buy Box on some products because of recent sales velocity.
This strategy works well and is a great way ‘bully’ other sellers off their Buy Box position and to take over on new products.
4. Improve Your Seller Feedback Rating
Remember when selling on Amazon the customer is king. As an FBA seller, it is easier to remove negative feedback which may have killed off your Buy Box eligibility.
Often bad feedback is a result of late shipping or items arriving damaged. If the order was placed through FBA you can request the feedback is removed as fulfillment is Amazon’s responsibility.
If you are an FBM seller you are pretty much left to work things out with the customer and it can be difficult to persuade them to remove the negative feedback. This is another important advantage of being FBA and the wider impact it can have.
5. Use Intelligent Pricing
All things being equal price is still the deciding factor. You may often find your competitors pricing constantly changing making it impossible to get the Buy Box.
When you lower your price to win the Buy Box does another seller instantly undercut you? These sellers are most likely using automated repricing software.
These services plug into your seller account and constantly monitor your competitor’s pricing. They will then change your pricing automatically following a set of predefined rules.
When a lot of sellers are using repricing software it can create a ‘race to the bottom’ and reduce margins.
PRO TIP: Always MATCH the Buy Box price rather than undercut the competition. Hopefully, other sellers will also match and you can all share the Buy Box and orders for that product. A 20% share of the orders at a healthy profit is better than nothing at all. If there are a lot of high volume low margin sellers who like to undercut rather than match then it is best to avoid selling the product.
Use Repricing Software to Increase Your Buy Box Share
This can be very time-consuming and if other sellers are using repricing software if can be impossible to keep up.
If you are changing prices manually then it might be best to stick to a price you are happy with and then wait for other sellers to go out of stock.
Check Keepa to see how often these ‘stock-outs’ actually happen. If they never seem to happen and it’s a competitive ASIN then you may need to just clear your stock and move on.
You can adjust all your prices weekly or monthly depending on the amount of SKUs you have. You might find a slight change in price can still win the Buy Box.
Use Amazon’s ‘Automate Pricing’ tool
Amazon’s ‘Automate Pricing‘ tool is free to use but the options are fairly limited. Remember it is in Amazon’s interest to give customers the best deal and not to make you the most profit.
This is reflected in the options available to set up different pricing rules.
You will win more Buy Boxes but are not likely to increase overall profits.
Use intelligent Amazon repricing software
With intelligent repricing software, you can set much more complex rules and this can make a huge difference to profits. You can choose exactly who to compete with and change pricing only when you need to.
Users report an average of a 35% increase in sales and Buy Box share using this software.
“…35% increase in sales and Buy Box share,”
Also, the most important advantage of using intelligent repricers is the ability to INCREASE PRICE when other sellers go out of stock. There is a lot of profit to be made with this feature.
We recommend using BQool Amazon Repricer which covers all marketplaces and they offer a free trial. 😍
Winning the Buy Box FAQs
The main things to focus on are to maintain great metrics at (almost) any cost and to use Amazon FBA for fulfillment. We also recommend using BQool Amazon Repricer. A combination of these strategies will have a huge impact on your business.
If you have any questions or suggestions for other strategies to win the Buy Box please take the time to post a comment below. This will help your fellow Amazon sellers.
You are also very welcome to join our friendly and supportive Amazon Facebook Groups:
Amazon Selling for Beginners – for those starting out on their Amazon selling journey.
Amazon FBA Masters – for more experienced sellers and those looking at starting in Private Label selling.
Try the BQool Amazon Repricer free trial – intelligent repricing software.
Good luck & Happy Selling
Article By James PercivalFounder and Lead Editor of The Selling Guys
James has been selling online for over 15 years. He has focused mainly on Amazon selling but also has experience of selling on eBay, selling globally, building ecommerce sites and much more.
He still runs a very successful ecommerce business but decided to help other sellers to make money online through ‘The Selling Guys’ website and the ‘Amazon Selling for Beginners’ Facebook group.
He has 3 children, two dogs and a (now missing) cat.