On Amazon’s marketplace, sellers compete for the coveted Buy Box both with other sellers and with Amazon itself. The Buy Box refers to the white box on the right side of the Amazon product detail page, where customers can add items for purchase to their cart. 82% of Amazon sales go through the Buy Box, and the percentage is even higher for mobile purchases.
Thanks to stiff competition and Amazon’s customer-obsessed approach, only businesses with excellent seller metrics stand a chance to win a share of this valuable real estate. Amazon uses a variety of factors to determine who wins the Buy Box.
This post will cover:
- What is the Amazon Buy Box
- Amazon Buy Box Eligibility
- Winning the Buy Box
- Losing the Buy Box
- Tracking Buy Box Trends
What is the Amazon Buy Box?
The buy box is simply the section on the right in an Amazon product detail page containing the product price, shipping information, inventory availability, seller name, fulfillment details, and the “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons.
Because 82% of Amazon sales go through the Buy Box (and even more for mobile purchases) the Buy Box is highly coveted by Amazon sellers.
Amazon sellers compete with one another to win a share of the Buy Box. For more popular items with multiple sellers, sellers may rotate their spot on the Buy Box, even sharing with Amazon itself. The seller who is in the Buy Box at the time of a customer’s conversion will capture the sale.
In the image below, the Buy Box says “Sold by Solawave”. Whichever seller’s name appears on the “Sold by” line will win the sale. If you’re the only seller in the product listing, then you’ll always win the Buy Box.
Amazon Buy Box Eligibility
Amazon has requirements that must be met for a seller to be eligible to win the Buy Box. Not all sellers will be qualified to win the Buy Box. Your Buy Box eligibility status can be checked in Amazon Seller Central.
- Have a Professional Seller Account (in Europe called a Pro-Merchant account)
- Sell new items (used items have a different Buy Box)
- Have inventory availability
- Have a low order defect and return rate
- Have high seller performance metrics, including clickthrough rate and purchase rate
- Have fast and comprehensive customer service (low dissatisfaction rate)
- Length of time selling product on Amazon (Seller history)
These are the basic requirement to win the Buy Box, but they do not guarantee anything.
Once a seller meets Amazon’s minimum eligibility requirements, the Buy Box algorithm further assesses sellers using various factors.
Check If You’re Eligible for the Buy Box
You can check your Buy Box eligibility status in Amazon Seller Central. Sign in to your Seller account, and go to the Manage Inventory section under the Inventory tab. Use the Preferences button in the top right to customize your columns. Check “Buy Box Price” and “Buy Box Eligible” to see which ASINs are eligible for the Buy Box.
Winning the Buy Box
Amazon sellers compete with one another to win a share of the Buy Box. For more popular items with multiple sellers, sellers may rotate their spot on the Buy Box, even sharing with Amazon itself. If one seller is significantly stronger than the rest, their percentage share of the Buy Box will be higher.
- For example, the top-ranking seller of a product could hold the Buy Box for 60% of the day, while another seller (or multiple) could hold it for the remaining 40%.
Other key factors that impact the Buy Box include…
- Using Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) or Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP)
- Having Fast Shipping Time
- Having a Competitive Landed Price
- Maintaining Good Inventory Health
- Maintaining Stong Overall Amazon Account Health
- Having a High Seller Feedback Score
While all of these factors have an effect on the Buy Box, Amazon seems to put the most weight on price and shipping speed. Because of this, sellers can sometimes get caught in a “race to the bottom” where they compete by continuously lowering their prices. This is great for Amazon shoppers who want lower prices, however, it can significantly impact margins for sellers, which smaller sellers usually cannot withstand for long.
Losing the Buy Box
Losing the Buy Box has consequences for your Amazon business. You will lose out on sales, and Amazon will suppress your Sponsored Product advertising. So not only will competitors be taking your sales, but not being able to run sponsored products ads will open the door for competitors to run conquesting ads.
If your Amazon sales suddenly go down, the Buy Box is one of the first places to look. Check to see if there are other sellers in your Amazon listing and if they are occupying the buy box. If there weren’t other sellers in the listing before, or they weren’t winning the buy box before, that may be a diagnosis for your low sales.
The primary reason you might start losing the Buy box is if another seller is listing your product for less, or offering faster shipping.
Other common reasons you could suddenly start losing the Buy Box include…
- Another seller listed the product you manufacture for less.
- If you have a leaky distribution network, you may lose the buy box to unauthorized third-party sellers who undercut your pricing.
- If you are both the manufacturer and the seller, maintain strict control over your distribution network. If you’re the only Amazon seller with inventory, you will always win the buy box. If you have authorized resellers, make sure they are following MAP policies to prevent them from stealing your Buy Box with lower prices.
- Check out our video on distribution leakage on Amazon.
2. You’re Out of Stock
- If you run out of inventory, the Buy Box will move to another seller. If you’re the only seller, customers obviously have no way of purchasing your product on Amazon.
- Check out our post on forecasting inventory for Amazon.
3. Check Buyer-Seller Messaging
- Amazon requires sellers to respond to customer messages quickly. If you have unanswered questions from customers, your score will decrease. This ding could cost you the Buy Box
4. The Buy Box is Missing
In some cases, Amazon may take the Buy Box away altogether. Sellers sometimes call this “Buy Box suppression”. You can tell that a Buy Box is missing/suppressed when the “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons are hidden from view. Instead, to see the standard buying information and place an order, shoppers must click “See All Buying Options.”
The most common reason for a missing / suppressed Buy Box is Amazon’s enforcement of their Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy. This policy effectively allows Amazon to penalize sellers by taking away the Buy Box if their product is offered at a lower price elsewhere online. If you are selling your product on Amazon for $20, and also at Target for $15, this would violate Amazon’s Policy.
The only way to prevent being penalized by Amazon is to standardize your pricing across online marketplaces and control your distribution network. Even if other sellers don’t appear in your Amazon listing, they can still trigger a suppressed buy box by selling the product at a cheaper price elsewhere online.
If you are interested in learning more about why a listing does not have a buy box (as opposed to losing / not winning the buy box) check out this quick video on Reasons for Buy Box Suppression.
Tracking Buy Box Trends
myHorizons Buy-Box Trends
Simplify the process of tracking Buy Box wins and losses by viewing your accounts’ ratio of wins, losses, and no Buy Boxes. Track Buy Box prices to stay competitive and toggle different views to generate a list of each status.
For sellers looking for additional support, Envision Horizons offers a solution. myHorizons is making selling on Amazon less stressful and more profitable by automating Amazon brand management. Find more information on if myHorizons is right for you, or schedule your own personal demo here.