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Amazon Amazon Buy Box

Published on January 19th, 2011 | by Matthew Ogborne

7

How To: Win the Amazon Buy Box

For seasoned sellers, they know when they get the Amazon Buy Box, because they start receiving batches of orders. Its literally an ON/OFF switch for orders once the Amazon Buy Box is enabled for that seller.

In this article I will explain to you what the Amazon buy box is, what impacts it and how Amazon FBA can weigh the odds in your favour to win it.

So what is the Amazon Buy Box?

The Amazon Buy BoxUnlike eBay where you can have multitudes of the same item over many listings, Amazon’s format is different, Amazon has one ‘master’ listing and then allows multiple sellers, including itself to sell that item.

This master item, contains information that is an amalgamation of data from eligible sellers of the given item. Although some master items are created by Amazon themselves and contain more in-depth descriptions than they allow merchants to create

The ‘Buy Box’ is Amazons way of sorting the sellers that have the master product available to the customers.

You’ll notice that there are two parts to this ‘Buy Box’, the one that merchants fight for are the upper ‘Blue Buy Box’, this is how the vast majority of sales are made on Amazon.

The lower part was added in 2010 and shows offers from merchants that are very close to the merchant that is currently winning the coveted ‘Blue Buy Box’ spot.

If you look at the blue part, this is coloured differently from the rest of the section and on the Amazon site, coloured quite differently so it stands out, within it, is the primary “call to action” button, ‘Add to Basket’. You can see it dwarfs the other buttons. This is why getting access to the buy box is critically important, if you’re not in the box, you’re literally not in the game.

Amazon Blue Buy Box Winners

This is where Amazon are pretty darn smart and incorporate a large number of factors into whom wins the blue buy box and also it is to be noted that the winner (where there are more than one equally competing merchants) can and does rotate.

In the screen shot of the buy box above, if you look closely you’ll see that not the cheapest option is sat in the blue buy box, instead an offer for ‘£1,380.25 + FREE SHIPPING’ is winning, although the secondary offer is at ‘£1,369.99 + £6.00 shipping’ which is less than the current winner.

In fact looking at the screen shot below, neither of these two are the cheapest and clearly illustrates that you need just more than price to win the blue buy box and crucially the sale.

competing-for-the-buy-boxSo as you can see, there are actually four other merchants that have this same item for sale, but even still, none of these won the box and instead another has taken the box.

And if this is not bad enough even after 30 refreshes in different browsers, from different machines on different networks, I could not get the buy box to shift off that seller, but I did win at the game by logging into an Amazon account that had Amazon Prime enabled on it.

getting-the-buy-boxSo what are the factors that influence the buy box?

We’ve seen from the above that if Amazon decide that they want to give a seller the buy box, then they will give out the keys to sales and sometimes it can be quite sticky even when prices are quite some way out too.

To understand the logic behind the buy box we need to understand what Amazon wants. This is actually quite simple:

Amazon want only to sell items to customers from merchants it can trust. Ultimately if Amazon suggest a different seller, then this is representing themselves.

Unlike eBay, this is Amazon’s own marketplace, they sell on it themselves, it is THEIR marketplace, so you better have some compelling reasons why they should allow you to sell goods along side them and for them to allow you access to the buy box.

Note: This is why I love Amazon so much, it is extremely rare that I have an issue with an order from Amazon, whether its direct from them or a merchant on the site.

While not exhaustive, these are the main factors in winning the coveted Amazon Buy Box.

Price

Besides actually being eligible, the total order price including postage, is the second most important factor in winning the blue buy box. This is only superseded by sellers that use Amazon’s FBA.

Availability

How many do you have and how quickly can you ship? By consistently fulfilling orders in a quick time, improves your chances.

Volume

This goes back to consistency and is probably why the seller in the first part of the article stuck on the blue buy box, they have been consistent when selling this product over a period of time.

Eligibility

Really daft, but first you must be eligible for the buy box. New merchants are not awarded access to the buy box for several weeks, even months until they prove that they can be trusted. Remember this is Amazons own marketplace and their own customers.

I say this time and again, never, ever piss off Amazons customers.

Refunds

By having a low refund rate indicates that you are in-control of your business. Not letting buyers (remember they are Amazon’s buyers) down, you are helping Amazon trust you.

Customer Feedback

By keeping negative ratings to a minimum, you are pleasing Amazons customers. Amazon like businesses that keep their customers happy. These comments can be revised and I strongly urge you to watch the feedback you receive. Remember its their customers…

A-to-z Guarantee Claims

This is Amazons return process. While you are bound to have a number of returns, Amazon expects very few, act fast on these as it will play in your favour. Not getting them in the first place by excellent customer services is probably a better route.

Fulfilment – FBA

This requires a special mention and I will expand on this in the next section

The not-so Secret Pricing Rule

I let this slip in a recent article, you an read it here: The Amazon Buy Box – You know the Secret Formula Right?

Amazon Fulfilment AKA FBA. Guaranteed Blue Buy Box

Quite a bold statement, ‘Guaranteed Blue Buy Box’, but once you understand that by using Amazon’s Fulfilment services called FBA, then you are actually giving the despatch control to Amazon, thus as long as your pricing is relatively close then the buy box is yours.

In the screen shot above where multiple buy boxes are shown, the one to the right includes s screen shot from an Amazon account that has Amazon Prime. This is a service that costs £49 a year and gives Amazon customers access to unlimited free next day deliveries, they do this by offering it on their own and on items that are held in their fulfilment services.

I will be posting more information on FBA in a future article, I did write this up before Christmas but decided it needed more work.

Combining the Factors

Its only by combining all these factors together, can you expect to have access to the Amazon blue buy box and make lots of sales on Amazon.

Sure, you can and will make sales without the buy box, but a common conversation with seasoned Amazon sellers is that they pretty much know when they have hit the buy box for certain items because they get a flood of orders for the item that has won it.

Links of Interest

These links provide further information on the factors that influence winning of the buy box.





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7 Responses to How To: Win the Amazon Buy Box

  1. Arielle says:

    Discovered this “bible” about selling on Amazon a few days ago and found it really helpful!!!! – fdv.sr/bible

  2. Natasha says:

    This is a fantastic article as we are gearing up to start selling on Amazon. Glad to read about all the tips you provide on the subject. Very very inspiring…

    We’ve seen great returns from Ebay and was wondering which platform will generate the most revenue.

    Thank you

    • proetus says:

      Thanks Matt another great article
      I have to admit it has taken me over a year but I have to agree I am learning to love Amazon as a seller not least for the reliability of customer quality and consistency.

      I think perhaps like yourself Natasha, I am only a small business and often get as much as I can cope with from eBay. I literally during a quiet period decided to list on Amazon a few popular items.

      I’ve never really thought about Amazon Blue boxes as I am still an Amazon hobbyist, but I have always appreciated that it is their platform and the very few problems I have had have been easy to deal with by a veteran eBayer

      Its all been trial and error for me but I would guess I now have about 15 popular items that are competitively priced and regularly blue boxed. It can be a bit scary the first time you wake up next morning and find that all of your inventory has sold over night something that I have never experienced on eBay to the same degree

      • Hola,

        Yea Amazon can be very price dependant, I know numerous businesses that just let Amazon burn their stock out and once gone, cream the sales at a hight price, worth trying that one ;-)

        Matt

  3. How To: Win the #Amazon Buy Box – http://t.co/Ftx21NMe

  4. RT @lastdropofink: How To: Win the #Amazon Buy Box – http://t.co/3KE7ijF3

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