Over the next few articles, I’m going to answer several questions that have come in via email in the past few days, that I feel that you’d gain value from hearing the answer too.
Gaining the Blue Buy Box on Amazon
Today’s question is in relation to scoring the Amazon Buy Box for the first time in a new Amazon account.
As always, there is history around this and the reason why the original account was lost, the point here is that ideally you’d try & avoid this from happening in the first place, but as well all know, sometimes one tiny mistake, can have a big impact.
Let’s hope the reply to this question helps them get back on track.
Good morning Matt,
Your site is great information. You are welcome to put this in the forums, this was just the easiest for me to email you.
We had a very successful Amazon account with NN,NNN per month in sales. Due to some out of stock items, our account was suspended from Amazon.
We have partnered with someone else in order to get a new account going.
How do you get the feedback up quickly to get the buyer box.
We are selling about 1 item per week. I know it is due to being a new seller and no feedback, therefore we cannot get that little blue box!
Thanks for your help!
The part that is not pleasant is the part where I say, in 3-5 months time. Don’t panic just yet, there is an option that you might not be aware of and we’ll get to that in due course.
Limited Amazon Accounts
Amazon to the best of my knowledge sand-boxed new selling accounts. This is where they trickle you sales over a long period of time to see how the business reacts to increasing sales. It’s a good system, that works and this also highlights that Amazon is focused on looking after number 1 in the equation.
No that’s not the shareholders, but the customer. It’s the right thing to do, to protect the site from naughty businesses and the buffer of a few months is generally a good thing. We’re just on the wrong side of her, er Amazon (see note later), that’s all.
Talking from my personal history, Amazon is simpler to list on and you can in some instances sell more product on Amazon than you can in other marketplaces, however it is different and different means you can’t always just bump-in and splash product everywhere and not learn the ropes, this is their way of ensuring that you learn the ropes [and not put in place to intentionally annoy the heck out of us].
Amazon calls this process, “Velocity Limits” and the part that they neglect to mention in their help page is the time factor. (You can read the full details on their help page here)
Along the way of building a new Amazon Seller account, you’ll go through a few emails from Amazon and at least one account review. This typically takes 3-5 months to happen and as I mentioned is designed to build the expertise up in the business over time.
I only now about this as I’ve seen numerous accounts start on Amazon and when the switch is flipped, it is generally noticeable, as you get far higher than normal sales appear from no-where.
Thinking about a conversation last year, it came up that a business owner (again I am doing my best to keep this anonymous as possible) had been selling on Amazon for 4 months, but was saying he still hadn’t got the Buy Box access and Amazon was slow.
So we popped a ticket in with Amazon and they said that this was normal and their account was be activated for Buy Box eligibility as and when their account was reviewed next (or words to that effect).
What actually happened, was the next day, was about 10 times more orders than normal started to appear and the phone call I received was “I’ve got the buy box!“, understandably excitable. So sometimes Amazon just needs a nudge to make the point “Hi, I’ve been trading for a while, I’m a good boy“.
Note: If this is you and you’ve been trading on Amazon for 3 months or more and do not have the buy box yet, open a case and ask them how long will it be and is there anything you can do to aid the process.
Sooo…. coming back to the question, is there anything you can do. Ideally I’d suggest you just wait, take the time to build it up slowly again and earn the trust that was lost the first time around and play the slow game (Amazon is a slow game believe it or not).
Option #1 – Amazon Red Carpet Scheme
That may not be the quick-fix answer you may have been looking for though. But there is another option.
If you’re in the UK and I am unsure about this in the USA, then there is a scheme called the “Red Carpet Scheme”.
This allows you to work with an Amazon representative to load inventory onto the marketplace as an account manager, a free Amazon seller central subscription for a year and crucially gain instant access to the Blue Buy Box (YAY!).
Dave has covered the details on the Amazon red carpet scheme in a post a few weeks back, you can view this here:
It’s an invitation-only scheme, but it wouldn’t be too cheeky to open an Amazon case and include a message something like this:
I’ve heard about a scheme that can help us with launching our X number of products on Amazon called a ‘Red Carpet Scheme’.
Is this something you can help us with?”
Amazon are not daft bunnies, if the products are unique and they spot that it’s a previously banned account, then making yourself stand-out is probably not the best idea and I’d play low, and cool for a few months and take it the slow route.
Another Note: If you’re reading this and have just started selling on Amazon for the first time, then it’s 100% worth your while to make a call or open a case with Amazon and nudging them to see if you’d be eligible.
Option #2 – Fulfilment By Amazon aka “FBA”
The other option is that you could leverage Fulfilment by Amazon (now on referred to as FBA as my spelling is pants) to put the more popular products into Amazon and gain immediate access to the buy box.
FBA doesn’t suit all products and I, as Amazon own notes, it’s not sensible to send in ALL your inventory, just the lines that you know will sell in the next 3 months or ideally less.
I’ve not covered FBA to any great degree in an article to date here on the LastDropofInk, so I’m going to leave you with the basics and give you a few links to find out more.
With FBA you send your items into Amazon for them to fulfil orders with, this has several key benefits:
- You gain access to the blue buy box (the reason for the email)
- You gain access to the buyers that have Amazon Prime (there are lots of those, trust me you want these, they’re the high-volume buyers)
- Amazon does the customer services for you (I hear you screaming wooohooo!)
- Amazon process the returns for you (good & bad)
This would give you the quick win you’re looking for, however there is one key downside. Amazon then handle your products and as such if you’re not welded down with a patent or trademarks, then it is not unheard of (see this thread over at the Wholesale Forums) for Amazon to locate the supplier or manufacturer and go direct, essentially cutting you out entirely.
Note. This thread is also worth reading: No Customer Contact is the Major Downside of Using Amazon FBA
But let’s be frank here (and this is also the contents of another email I answered 15 minutes ago), Amazon and the Amazon marketplace is one great big market research tool.
The key benefit other than the range of products that 3rd party sellers add to the Amazon platform, is that Amazon can then mine the data to see what they should sell themselves. They will do this eventually and there is a very interesting thread in our forums called “Amazon vendor invite“.
So trying to leave this on a positive note FBA could be what you’re looking for and you can find more about Amazon’s FBA schemes at these links:
- UK – http://services.amazon.co.uk/services/fulfilment-by-amazon/features-benefits.html
- USA – http://www.amazonservices.com/content/fulfillment-by-amazon.htm/
As a direct reply to the question, I’d strongly suggest you play the longer game and reap the rewards in a few months time, exposing yourself at such an early stage could knock you right back. Trees, fruit & nurturing roots and all that.
The Red Carpet scheme might work for you, depending if it’s available in your country and if the products are not too much of a give-away. But as mentioned, if you are a new business selling on Amazon, then this could be a easy way of you expediting access to the buy box.
FBA should also be considered it has many, many positive sides, you get the buy box access you were looking for , it has several other perks and can work out cheaper if you account for numerous items being sent in.
But we must remember:
Amazon, if it was a human, it would be a woman and she would be a ………..
She’d want babies, grand children, a ring, the whole white wedding cher-bang, but she’d divorce you at a moments notice if she found and cheaper or newer model.
(But I love her none the less).
Food for thought….
Excellent question, thank you for asking it and allowing me to reply publicly. If this helps you and maybe someone else too, then the time taken to write this has all been worthwhile. I’m sorry to hear about the experience, unlike Amazon, the rest of the world is a little more forgiving.
Have a Question?
Alternatively if you can offer any suggestions, words of advice or just a few words of comfort to a fellow business owner that’s had a boot in the knackers, you can let us know using the comments box below.