How to win the Amazon Buy Box
The Buy Box on Amazon is one of the most fiercely fought over pieces of ecommerce real estate on the planet. Winning it, and winning it regularly will increase your sales, but what are the characteristics you’ll need to have to make winning it possible? If you understand them, you’ll also understand how to get found on Amazon. Amazon is a great sales channel, knowing how to win the Buy Box can make it even greater.
Amazon give fairly clear guidance on what they expect from Buy Box winners. Excellence in all areas! That may be a rather succinct summary but it’s not too far from what you will find.
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The importance of FBA
The most obvious requirement is that some categories require you to be using Fulfilled By Amazon in order to qualify for the Buy Box. To be Buy Box eligible in categories that include Music, Video and DVD categories, you need to be using FBA. Don’t expect to win the Buy Box in those categories if you don't use FBA.
If we consider why Amazon put that requirement on winning the Buy Box for DVDs, we get a valuable insight into how their thought processes work. DVDs are among those items that can be described as Fast Moving Consumer Goods, knowing that there is guaranteed available stock is clearly important to Amazon. Why would they promote a seller if they felt that the order might go un-fulfilled?
Taking this further it would seem reasonable to assume that when you are competing for the Buy Box, stock availability is vital regardless of the category. And it would seem a sensible enough deduction that if that stock is held in FBA that your chances would increase of that win regardless of the category. Some research suggests that this is not the case, but we'd suggest it is an influencial factor.
Price versus quality
So what of price, surely that must be the most important aspect when winning the Buy Box? Surprisingly perhaps, Amazon is quite clear that the lowest price is not necessarily the winner. Again this gives us a clue as to the thought process behind their Buy Box strategy. It clearly emphasises that winning is based to a large extent on other quality measures. So what are these other measures and is there a way to order them in a manner that gives some guidance to a win hungry retailer?
The Amazon Buy Box influencers
Here is the order that we feel gives a fair impression of how Amazon decide on the winner.
- Stock availability and fulfilment reliability
- Price including the postage and packaging
- Time to ship
- Order Defect Rate
- Seller Rating
As you can see we feel that price matters, and matters a lot, but we also know that the reliability and speed of service is vital when arriving at who should win the Buy Box. If the time to ship is not within a few days it’s likely that the stock isn’t held by the seller – why take the risk and promote that seller over someone else prepared to deliver within say 48 hours?
We also believe that an Order Defect Rate approaching the 1% level set by Amazon is likely to result in losing the Buy Box. The ODR covers negative feedback, A-to-Z claims and credit card chargebacks. Any of these reflect badly on Amazon, so again why would Amazon take a risk with a retailer that they see as potentially problematic?
Finally, and perhaps the catchall, if the rating of the seller is in the low 90’s then why take the risk that the order won’t be processed on time, or that the goods won’t be as described? With so many sellers on Amazon why take the risk?
The Amazon Buy Box is in essence a measure of your performance balanced against your price, so keep your metrics up and your prices competitive.