Amazon’s retail arbitrage and wholesale space thrives with fierce competition. It is a landscape where multiple sellers are in the race to get a spot on a single ASIN.
This “spot” is essentially called the Buy Box.
Amazon Buy Box is a vertical widget on the right side of the product detail page from where customers can add the given item to their cart or buy it right away. The Buy Box also shows the delivery details (time, mode), price, and quantity of the given product.
Lastly, it displays the name of the seller assigned for the order fulfillment— any seller who has succeeded in winning the Buy Box for that particular order.
In other words, if you want to successfully run the arbitrage and wholesale model, you need to win the Buy Box. Without winning it, you are less likely to make any sales.
Is there any Buy Box formula or algorithm? How to win it and how not to lose it?
If you’re looking for the answers to such questions, you’ve landed at the right place.
This blog will dig deep into all things Amazon Buy Box.
The Buy Box is packed with loads of information. Let’s slice up all this information in order.
Amazon has to handle almost 66,000 orders every hour or 1100 orders every minute. Therefore, it is not possible for the platform to manually assign the Buy Box. There is certainly an algorithm or formula that seamlessly and tirelessly works and automatically assigns sellers the Buy Box.
So, what is that Amazon Buy Box algorithm or formula?
While Amazon hasn’t officially revealed the details about its Buy Box algorithm, there are certain performance and operational factors that could be part of the algorithm’s decision-making.
The following are the six key factors that the Amazon Buy Box algorithm weighs in to decide the winner of the Buy Box for product listings.
Like the platform, the ultimate objective of the Amazon Buy Box algorithm is to serve shoppers in the best possible manner by creating an impeccable customer experience. Therefore, the algorithm usually works like that: First, it picks the lowest prices among all the offers. Then, it matches the accumulative performance of every seller offering the lowest price. Lastly, it picks the seller offering the lowest price and putting up the best performance.
There are no shortcuts or hacks to dodge the algorithm and win the Buy Box. If you need to make your place in the Buy Box, you need to take certain measures.
Here, we’ll outline in detail the steps that can lead you to the Buy Box glory.
“How to become eligible for the Buy Box”— this is a recurring query of many new Amazon sellers. The eligibility requirements or basics of winning the Buy Box go like that:
If you fulfill these prerequisites, you will be in the race to win the Buy Box among all the other eligible sellers.
If you’re a Professional seller, you can easily check your Buy Box Eligibility from your Amazon Seller Central Account.
Open the Inventory tab drop-down menu from the homepage of your Seller Central account and click Manage Inventory.
Open the Preferences tab and go to the Column Display section
Check the Buy Box Eligible box.
Save the changes and go back to your SKUs. Now, you’ll be able to see the Buy Box Eligibility status of all the SKUs in your Inventory.
No matter how eligible you are for the Buy Box, you won’t be able to win it if your offer entails a higher price than average. If you are operating in an arbitrage or wholesale domain and striving to take an order while competing with multiple sellers, you need to always keep your product price low.
Pricing is a very fickle subject on Amazon i.e. it keeps changing all the time. Therefore, you need to be very hands-on with your offer pricing. This is possible by adopting the dynamic pricing regimen. Amazon allows you to automate the pricing (you can also use repricing software for automating prices). For instance, you can peg your offer price to the Buy Box price. So whenever the Buy Box price changes, your offer price adjusts accordingly.
You can also choose the “competitive lowest price” option. By choosing this option, your offer will always have the lowest price among all the other offers on the same listing/ASIN. This competitive pricing configuration can increase your chances of winning the Buy Box particularly on popular items. However, you may have to compromise on your margins.
If a certain ASIN experiences fierce competition and you want to conquest it, this price automation will come in handy. Otherwise, pegging your offer price to the Buy Box price will suffice.
Your fulfillment method also plays a role in your winning or losing the Buy Box. Amazon doesn’t have a categorical statement on this. However, it has been observed in all those years that sellers using Amazon’s fulfillment channel (FBA) are more likely to win the Buy Box as compared to those who fulfill orders themselves (FBM).
For most sellers, FBA already is a more convincing option than FBM. So, they can get this innate advantage of being Buy Box favorites by choosing the FBA.
Choosing FBA also increases your prospects to win the Buy Box because when you use Amazon’s fulfillment machinery, you automatically qualify for Amazon Prime. Prime sellers also have a better shot at winning the Buy Box as compared to any regular FBA or FBM seller.
However, it is worth mentioning that it is not all doom and gloom for FBM sellers when it comes to winning the Buy Box. If you take the FBM route, you won’t be automatically ruled out of the Buy Box race. You can certainly beat the competitors relying on FBA if you are offering the Buy Box competitive price and have better seller metrics than them.
Inventory management is often an overlooked aspect when it comes to winning the Buy Box. This is the reason why many sellers get frustrated when they can’t win the Buy Box despite offering Buy Box competitive prices and reasonable seller performance metrics.
Amazon gives a lot of importance to the inventory depth of a seller while assigning the Buy Box. It continuously monitors the inventory levels of every FBA seller. If the platform thinks your inventory levels are low and you won’t be able to fulfill some orders on time, it won’t assign you the Buy Box.
Therefore, inventory levels can often work as tiebreakers when two or more sellers offer the same price with the same performance metrics. In such a scenario, the seller with higher inventory levels will bring the Buy Box home.
A good practice is to keep 90 days of inventory in stock all the time. Amazon considers this inventory level sufficient and thus won’t rule you out of the Buy Box race based on inventory. To streamline your inventory management, you can use a tool that tracks your inventory levels and notifies you in real-time how much inventory is left and when you should re-order the new stock for timely replenishment.
This proactive inventory management will help you keep your stock levels high and consistent all the time. As a result, Amazon will reward you with the prized Buy Box placement given that you check all the other boxes as well.
Winning the Buy Box is not a one-time thing. Given the competitive nature of the Amazon marketplace, you have to keep winning it. And for that, you need to be very hands-on with monitoring and improving your seller performance metrics. These are some of the performance metrics you must continuously maintain to be in the Buy Box race all the time.
If you take care of the five steps discussed above, you can get the Amazon algorithm to decide in your favor while choosing the Buy Box winner for a given ASIN. You will win the Buy Box more often than not with the fulfillment of the discussed measures.
There is no Amazon rule stating that new sellers can’t win the Buy Box. However, it has been observed that it takes a couple of months for a new seller to be a strong candidate for the Buy Box slot.
Nonetheless, new sellers should always keep themselves in the eligible zone. Having a Professional seller account, low price, good performance metrics, and sufficient inventory will eventually win a new seller the coveted Amazon Buy Box.
This is a very logical reservation/inquiry of new sellers who are not usually favorites to win the Buy Box. Yes, you can sell on Amazon without winning the Buy Box. You can take orders by being part of the “Other Sellers on Amazon” list.
It is present right below the Buy Box on product pages. However, make sure that you fulfill all the Buy Box requirements to be on the Other Sellers list.
Losing the Buy Box on highly competitive arbitrage and wholesale listings is pretty common. However, if you are frequently losing your Buy Box place, it is then a cause for concern. Poor seller performance metrics and high pricing are the most common reasons to lose the Buy Box. And most sellers are aware of those reasons.
But there are some other scenarios as well where you may lose the Buy Box.
If you’re running private label operations on Amazon, you don’t share the selling privilege on your listings with third-party sellers. This means you will have the Buy Box all by yourself. However, if your listing gets hijacked, you may see anyone else’s offer in your Buy Box.
What to do: Whenever that happens, you immediately need to report the hijacker to Amazon. Also, make sure you start a private label sale on Amazon after enrolling in its Brand Registry program. Being a Brand Registry member will give you better protection and problem resolution for such instances.
Offering low prices is usually a go-to measure to win the Buy Box. However, if you get too enthusiastic about lowering the price, it can become counterproductive. Amazon suspects a very low-priced offer by sellers as a tactic to gain early sales and positive reviews. So, if you are offering a product way below its price on or off Amazon, you will lose the Buy Box—even if you’re the only seller of that particular ASIN.
What to do: If you want to offer a lower price to customers, do it through Amazon’s promotions and coupons instead of manual pricing adjustments. This way the price change won’t end up with you losing the Buy Box.
A suppressed listing can also result in you losing the Buy Box. The suppressed listing is also not a good sign for the account's health. In other words, one suppressed listing can cause you to lose the Buy Box on multiple ASINs.
What to do: If your listing gets suppressed, you need to look at the listing for errors and fix them. Product images with non-white backgrounds, wrong categorization, longer product descriptions, and titles, wrong claims, incorrect UPC, etc can get your listing suppressed.
As mentioned earlier, there are no shortcuts to winning or getting the Buy Box back. If you have lost the Buy Box, you need to be very good with:
If you’re lacking on any of those fronts, you won’t be able to get the Buy Box back.
Before rounding off this post, let’s answer some of the frequently asked questions about the Amazon Buy Box.
The Buy Box percentage for any seller is calculated using this formula:
Buy Box Percentage = No. of Times the Seller Winning the Buy Box/ Total Page Visits of the Given Listing
Having a higher Buy Box percentage indicates a high sales volume for any seller.
For a highly competitive listing, a 2-5% Buy Box percentage is a good target for any seller. Achieving this percentage will earn them considerable sales. For regular listings, a Buy Box percentage of 10-20% is considered good.
Depending on the ASIN, the Buy Box can get updated within hours, weeks, or even months. For instance, very sought-after limited edition sneakers may experience a Buy Box change every hour. On the other hand, a listing with 4-5 offers may not see a Buy Box change in weeks or months.
An obscure data-driven Amazon algorithm determines who will be the Buy Box winner. This algorithm primarily takes into account the offer prices and seller performances to do intuitive and real-time decision-making.
Yes, Amazon can rotate the Buy Box among the sellers who have competitively priced their offer and have similar performance metrics. In such instances, the platform rotates the Buy Box on a weekly/monthly basis with equal intervals.
We hope that the above discussion helps you understand the Amazon Buy Box inside out. Winning the Buy Box is the lifeline of every wholesale and arbitrage Amazon seller. A seller can struggle to make any sale without winning the Buy Box. Therefore not winning the Buy Box is not a good omen for sellers looking to make their Amazon outing a long-term gig.
But the good news is that it is entirely possible for every seller to win the Buy Box—thanks to Amazon’s level-playing field.
If you’re signed up as a Professional seller, use FBA, and maintain good performance metrics and inventory levels, you are in for winning the Buy Box most of the time.
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