Amazon Buy Box 101

Posted: June 3rd, 2021

Amazon Buy Box 101: Everything You Need to Know to Win the Buy Box

The Amazon Buy Box is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on the Amazon marketplace. Although Amazon is quite cagey about the Buy Box conversion stats, experts estimate that 80-90% of all sales on Amazon happen in the Buy Box. It means that you’d be losing 80-90% of sales to the competition without the Buy Box. But, what exactly is the Buy Box?

What’s the Buy Box, and why is it important?

The Amazon Buy Box is the white field on the right side of a product detail page. The product detail page hosts a lot of important information. On the right, we have the product images. The product listing and description are at the center. And finally, we have the Buy Box on the right.

The Buy Box allows shoppers to add items to the cart using the Add to cart button. Shoppers can also use one-click ordering to go straight to checkout using the Buy now button. The Buy Box also allows shoppers to adjust their order quantity, shipping address and even add a gift receipt to items.

Amazon product page displaying a digital watch for sale

In a nutshell, the Amazon Buy Box streamlines a customer’s shopping experience on Amazon by allowing them to purchase in two or three steps. The Buy Box widget is separate from the listing itself, but most consumers can’t tell, thanks to its seamless integration with the product page.

Besides the Buy Box being responsible for more than 80% of sales, another reason why it’s so important is its placement on mobile. E-commerce sales on mobile have been growing over the years with the explosion of smartphone usage.

Bar graph showing the growth of mobile sales over the years

The percentages of U.S. mobile e-commerce sales 2017-2021. Image courtesy of Statistica

Almost everyone uses a smartphone today, and more people are now shopping on mobile. The Buy Box on mobile is strategically placed right below the product image to increase conversions. Once shoppers scroll past the product image, the mobile layout removes the listing and image from their line of sight, leaving only the Buy Box. The “no distraction shopping experience” approach gives heightened importance to the Amazon Buy Box on mobile.

Mobile phone displaying the Add to Cart and Buy Box buttons for a product on Amazon

How to become Buy Box eligible

With the Buy Box being so valuable to sellers, Amazon has a few crucial requirements that every seller must meet to be eligible for the Buy Box. Let’s have a look at them:

1. Buy Box eligibility status

You must be Buy Box eligible for a product to win the Buy Box. The Buy Box eligibility status was previously referred to as being a Featured Merchant. You can check your Buy Box eligibility status on Seller Central. If you sell multiple different products, it’s possible to be Buy Box eligible for some products and be ineligible for others. Amazon decides whether to award Buy Box eligibility by checking the Cancellation Rate, Order Defect Rate, and Late Shipment Rate. They must all be in good standing for you to be Buy Box eligible. You can also increase your chances of being eligible for the Buy Box by selling via FBA.

2. Professional Seller account

Amazon only awards the Buy Box to sellers with a Professional Amazon Sellers account. The account will cost you $39.99 per month, which seems like pocket change compared to the sales boost that comes with winning the highly coveted Buy Box.

3. Item condition

A used item can’t win the Amazon Buy Box over a new item. Amazon only awards the Buy Box to new items. But there’s a separate Buy Box for used items that you can compete for if you sell used items.

4. Stock availability

Winning the Buy Box comes with a significant increase in sales. Amazon wants to be sure you’re capable of satisfying customer demand before awarding the Buy Box to you. That’s why it’s a requirement to have adequate available stock for you to be Buy Box eligible.

How to win the Buy Box

Meeting all the requirements for Buy Box eligibility doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win it. Winning the Buy Box requires a delicate balance of several crucial metrics without compromising performance and the overall customer experience. Amazon is tight-lipped about the exact formula their algorithm uses to check the variables needed to award the Buy Box. But there are things you can do to increase your chances of winning the Buy Box. Let’s have a look at them.

1. Sell via Amazon FBA

The fulfillment method is one of the most critical variables that Amazon considers while awarding the Buy Box. Your fulfillment method affects other variables such as shipment time, inventory levels, customer response rate, and late shipping rate. All these are factors that contribute towards you winning or missing out on the Buy Box.

Amazon has three shipping options, FBM (fulfilled by Merchant), FBA (fulfilled by Amazon), and SFP (Seller-Fulfilled-Prime). Out of these three fulfillment methods, Amazon gives FBA and SFP sellers preference when awarding the Buy Box. Amazon handles the inventory, shipping, and fulfillment for FBA sellers. Therefore, Amazon controls the other critical variables contributing to a healthy seller rating and Buy Box eligibility. SFP sellers are FBM sellers registered with Amazon Prime. Being a Prime seller contributes heavily towards winning the Buy Box, as we’ll explain later.

2. Price your items competitively

Amazon is a customer-centric marketplace. Consumer satisfaction lies at the core of Amazon’s objectives. And one way of ensuring customer satisfaction is by ensuring customers get the most value for the lowest possible price. This is why your price plays a huge role in determining whether you win the Buy Box.

Most of the time, the Buy Box will go to the seller with the lowest possible price. But with that said, your price is only one factor, and other variables can override it. For example, let’s say your competition has a lower price than you but a not-so-good seller performance. If you have excellent seller performance, you might still win the Buy Box even when your price is higher than the competitors.

3. List as a Prime member

Shipping time is the amount of time you take to deliver a product to your customer. Shipping time significantly impacts whether you win the Buy Box, mainly if you sell highly perishable items or seasonal items such as Christmas cards.

As a Prime member, your items will typically ship in two days or the same day, which is the shortest shipping time on Amazon and pretty much in e-commerce. Selling on FBA qualifies you for Prime automatically. You can also register for Prime as a merchant and start fulfilling via SFP if you meet the requirements.

4. Maintain excellent performance metrics

Being a customer-oriented marketplace, Amazon demands that sellers maintain excellent performance metrics. These metrics come into play in determining whether you win the Buy Box or lose it to your competition. Let’s break down the crucial performance metrics that require your attention.

Seller feedback

Amazon pays close attention to seller feedback when awarding the feedback. Your feedback rating will be a culmination of all the feedback you’ve received over 30 days, 90 days, and 365 days. The most recent feedback has the most significant impact. It’s imperative to keep an eye on your feedback rating in Seller Central to ensure you maintain a healthy seller feedback rating and increase your chances of winning the Buy Box.

Order defect rate (ODR)

Order defect rate means the number of shipped orders that turned out defective. To determine your ODR, Amazon looks at your feedback rating, chargeback rate, and A-Z guarantee claim rate. The three metrics paint a clear picture for Amazon to determine your percentage of defective orders. Amazon insists that sellers maintain an ODR below 1%. Any seller that gets an ODR above 1% gets penalized and can’t qualify to win the Buy Box.

Late shipment rate

The late shipment rate is the percentage of orders that ship later than the indicated date. The default shipping time on Amazon is two business days, but sellers can set their preferred shipping time in Seller Central. You can view your late shipment rate in Seller Central. Amazon requires a late shipment rate below 4% to award the Buy Box.

Delivered on-time rate

Delivered on-time rate is the number of orders that buyers receive within the indicated shipping time. You should aim to maintain a delivered on-time rate above 97% to increase your chances of winning the Buy Box. You can view your delivered on-time rate in Seller Central.

Customer response rate

Customer response rate is the rate at which a seller responds to their customers. Amazon compares the response rates of all competing sellers to determine the sellers that get the Buy Box. Typically, the algorithm will check customer response rates for one week, a month, and three months.

You should ensure that you respond to most, if not all, customer messages within 24 hours. Failing to reply to more than 10% of your messages within 24 hours would negatively impact your seller rating. Sometimes, a customer message might not require a response. Ignoring it hurts your customer response rate. What you should do, instead, is to mark it as no response needed.

Cancellation and refund rate

The cancellation rate is the number of orders canceled before shipping. Refund rate is the number of orders where a buyer asked for a refund after shipping. A high cancellation and refund rate indicates that the seller has an inferior product or terrible customer service. You should aim at maintaining a cancellation and refund rate below 2.5% to maximize your chances of winning the Buy Box.

5. Maintain a strong tracking rate

The tracking rate is the percentage of goods shipped with a valid tracking number. Although this is a new metric, it significantly impacts whether you win the Amazon Buy Box. Amazon looks at your tracking rate for the last seven days and 30 days. It’s recommended that you provide valid tracking numbers for at least 95% of your shipments. A lower tracking rate might hurt your chances of winning the Buy Box.

6. Maintain healthy inventory levels

Amazon product page displaying Blue Buffalo dry dog food for sale but is out of stock

If your product is low on stock, some customers might have to wait longer to get their orders when they buy from you. Such extended shipping times are a no-go for Amazon since they reflect poorly on Amazon’s customer experience. That’s why Amazon gives the Buy Box to sellers with a healthy level of inventory. Keeping an eye on your inventory and making sure you don’t go out of stock will increase your chances of winning the Buy Box.

What is the Amazon Buy Box percentage, and why does it matter?

Amazon Buy Box percentage is a metric that helps you know the extent of your Buy Box possession. It helps you calculate how many times your product shows in the Buy Box. If a product gets 100 views, and your product has the Buy Box 70 of those times, then your Buy Box percentage is 70%.

One of Amazon’s core objectives is to give the customer the best value for their money. They do this by weighing seller metrics and item price, then comparing these across all the sellers competing for the Buy Box. If two sellers sell the same item at the same price and have the same performance metrics, then ideally, each seller would have a 50% Buy Box percentage. But most of the time, this is never the case, so Amazon prioritizes performance metrics first, then the price. That’s why a seller with superior performance metrics can have a higher Buy Box percentage even if they’re selling the item at a slightly higher price than the competition.

Buy Box suppression and how to prevent it from happening

While it’s critical to understand how to win the Amazon Buy Box, it’s also essential to know how you can lose it so you can prevent it from happening. Buy Box suppression is when Amazon removes the Buy Box from a listing. Due to the competitive nature of winning the Buy Box, you can still lose it even if you meet all the Buy Box eligibility. Let’s look at a couple common causes of Buy Box suppression and how you can prevent it from happening to your product.

1. Your price is too low or too high

Pricing your items too high or too low compared to the average price might cost you the Buy Box. Although Amazon requires sellers to price their products competitively to win the Buy Box, it doesn’t necessarily mean having the lowest price. Factors such as whether the price is inclusive of shipping determine if a product is competitively priced.

Some sellers tend to sell their products at ridiculously low prices to gain initial sales and reviews then raise their prices after the product gains some traction. That’s why Amazon treats extremely low prices with suspicion. If you want to reduce your product’s price and still hold on to the Buy Box, it’s advisable to use Amazon coupons to offer a discount rather than manually changing the price.

2. Amazon doesn’t deem your item profitable for them

As much as Amazon allows sellers to sell on their platform, they have to look after their bottom line as well. You stand a high chance of losing the Buy Box if Amazon determines that your product isn’t profitable for them. There are a few reasons why your product might not be profitable for Amazon:

  • You have a small profit margin
  • Your minimum order quantity is too high
  • You have low sales volume
  • Your item is too bulky and heavy

If you lose your Buy Box because Amazon doesn’t think your product is profitable for them, it’ll be because of one or more of these factors. Just identify which one and fix it, and you’ll be back on track to winning the Buy Box back.

4. A dip in your account health

Amazon requires sellers to maintain their seller account health above certain thresholds. If your account health falls below these thresholds, you might lose the Buy Box and get your account suspended in extreme circumstances. Maintaining a healthy seller account is crucial to you holding on to the Buy Box.

Wrapping up

The Amazon Buy Box is the goose that lays the golden eggs for Amazon sellers. But, be that as it may, there’s no silver bullet for the Buy Box problem. There’s no trick to winning the Buy Box. Instead, you need to maintain a series of metrics to remain eligible and be Amazon’s best choice for the Buy Box.

Following the strategies we’ve listed will give you a leg up in winning the Buy Box. But ultimately, what will set you apart, in the long run, is being algorithmic in your selling, just like Amazon. You’ll need to focus on crucial variables that ensure you remain Buy Box eligible and the best seller to win the Buy Box. If you’d like to learn how to start selling profitably on Amazon FBA, check out our Amazon Cheat Codes course.

Grab our Amazon Cheat Codes course now and learn how to start selling on Amazon!