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 what it means to your business.
Table of Contents:
- What Is the Buy Box on Amazon?
- Why is the Buy Box Important to Amazon Sellers?
- How Does Amazon Decide Who Appears in the Buy Box?
- Key Factors to Winning the Amazon Buy Box
- Watch These Metrics to Win Amazon’s Buy Box
- How Amazon’s Buy Box Percentage Works
- Pricing Strategies to Help You Win the Buy Box
- Why is Nobody Winning the Buy Box for a Listing?
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.
Each product on Amazon has its own product detail page, which can include the same products from 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.
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.
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.
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 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 for Amazon Buy Box rotations, but 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.
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.
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.
Key Factors to Winning the Amazon Buy Box
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.
Check Your Eligibility Status
First, make sure your products are Buy Box eligible. Here’s how to determine the status of your listings:
- Go to the “Manage Inventory” section in your Amazon Seller Central account.
- In the right-hand corner, click “Preferences” then “Buy Box Eligible” in the dropdown menu.
- This process adds 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 under “Reports > By ASIN > Detail Page Sales and Traffic by Child Item.”
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 houses, packs and ships some or all your products. 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 situations where you have to be FBM, but not many reasons for most sellers. 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 a standard that’s comparable to Amazon’s own.
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. For time-sensitive and perishable items, shipping varies, but Amazon generally weighs shipping based on the following shipping time frames for Amazon professional 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 humanly possible.
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 keeping your prices low and 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:
- Amazon seller fees
- Return cost
- Shipping costs
- Amazon budget
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.
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.
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.
Have a Good Customer Response Time
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 your communications. 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.
Have a Low Defect Rate
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.
Watch These Metrics to Win Amazon’s Buy Box
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:
- 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.
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%.
Pricing Strategies to Help You 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.
You can set a competitive price to win the Amazon Buy Box manually by watching competitors’ products and adjusting your SKUs accordingly. Most of us, however, don’t have the time — or have too many SKUs — to accomplish this. This method, however, does work well for sellers with just a few products or those who make products themselves or deal with products that don’t have much competition from other sellers.
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. One disadvantage of this method is that it can lead to pricing wars, and another is that it sometimes means pricing products too low when seller metrics would maintain ownership of the Buy Box regardless.
An algorithmic repricer tool uses machine-learning algorithms that will kick in based on your overall product profitability. One advantage of using an algorithmic pricer is that it takes all factors into account — not just the price. These products look at all your Amazon metrics and find the perfect middle ground between the percentage of time you win the Buy Box and how much you make on each sale.
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:
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:
- Dramatic price increases or decreases: The most common reason for a missing Buy Box rotations is a sudden and “substantial” price change for the winning seller, regardless of who the seller is. Amazon takes extra precautions to protect consumers from potential counterfeit goods, which are listed at substantially reduced prices.
- Violation of price parity across channels: If you’re selling your product for a lower price on your website or another channel, Amazon may penalize you. Make sure this isn’t the case by keeping your competitive price uniform.
- 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.
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.
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 2023 Amazon Guide.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.