What’s the Amazon Buy Box, and how do I get it?
Those are the first two thoughts one should have when diving into the world of Amazon retail. On the marketplace, as many would agree, there can only be two retailers: Amazon and Re-sellers (a.k.a. third party retailers).
Chances are, if you are already an Amazon re-seller or are dropshipping on Amazon, you have familiarized yourself with their buy box, and all the eligibility requirements to get it.
If you’re a new seller, sit with us and get acquainted as we break down the Amazon buy box benefits and challenges.
As one of the world’s largest marketplace, Amazon can make it really easy for retailers to reach billions of consumers, but it doesn’t come cheap or simple.
First and foremost, let’s get one thing straight – the buy box is not to be confused with the “Buy Now” button. That’s a common misconception among newbies. The button is an express-checkout feature available to consumers.
The buy box, on the other hand, is the white box area that holds both the “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons. According to Amazon’s current web design, this box can be found to the right of every product listing, or underneath if you’re using a mobile device.
Basically, if it has an “Add to Cart” button, it is considered a “buy box”. A reseller must win the buy box for their listed item in order to make a sale for it.
When stated “win the buy box”, this means that your name will be listed under the “Sold by” section. Therefore the buy box corresponds with your company and the sale will go into your pocket. You want that spot.
On the screenshot, you’ll see under the product listing it has a “Sold by” section that tells you which company the product is coming from. This section will only have one seller per item.
The Amazon Buy Box is a special spot on Amazon’s product pages that is automatically generated and given to the seller who can provide the best possible price on a product.
Sellers that qualify for the Buy Box will have their inventory listed at the top of the product page, appear first in search results, and be given priority placement in marketing campaigns.
The Buy Box wields significant influence over purchasing decisions made by Amazon customers, so it can be a critical component to your Amazon selling business success.
How can the consumer know who is trustworthy? This is where the buy box comes into play.
As previously mentioned, it’s the money maker in all this! The Amazon buy box is the only way a consumer can purchase the product of their choice. If you’re thinking that just by registering onto the platform you immediately have a buy box, think again.
Unless you are selling an original product, the buy box is not a guaranteed feature.
Take IKEA, for instance. They have original products and are an established brand who have extended their merch over to the Amazon Marketplace. When a consumer goes in search of home furniture products, IKEA is listed among the many brands available.
Though it’s half manual labor and half Tetris game, many enjoy putting together IKEA furniture and will opt for that brand instead. When the consumer selects the product they want, IKEA will always have the buy box.
Which is not to say that others won’t also have a shot. As you see below, there will be retailers with the same product listing at a somewhat lower value that will also have a buy box.
Some avid Amazon consumers will tirelessly look for the best price, quality, and feedback before making a purchase. Hence, they spend their time sifting through several retailers across niches until they find the best deal they can.
On the other hand, others find the product they’re looking for and don’t hesitate to “Add to Cart”. This means that the retailer listed under “Sold by” just made the sale, making it the most valuable asset in the marketplace.
If you’re dropshipping on Amazon, it’s unlikely that you’re selling a unique product. Because of the nature of dropshipping, you’re probably selling something that lots of other sellers are as well.
Because of this, you’ll be competing for the buy box in nearly every product you list.
This is due to the fact that, as discussed above, Amazon only features one seller in the buy box for each product instead of showing all available listings like eBay does, for example.
Since the buy box is so important in generating sales, and because of its requirements, dropshipping on Amazon can be a difficult business to get off the ground. It’s much easier to start dropshipping on eBay or similar marketplace sites than it is on Amazon.
Amazon has created a top-secret algorithm that decides which seller is featured under the listing. This organizes the abundance of product options available, making it user-friendly for the consumer, and a cut-throat competition for the merchants involved.
No one knows exactly how the algorithm determines the buy box placement, but one thing is universally known: Amazon gets first dibs.
This means that if you have the same product as the Amazon retailer, Amazon will own that “Sold by” spot unless they are sold-out of that item. You can’t blame them, it’s their company.
Nevertheless, as we learned with the IKEA example, they are fair. Sometimes, you will qualify for the buy box under the same product as your competitors and find yourself listed below “Other Sellers”.
The algorithm takes into account many factors to decide the buy box placement. Quality and geography being at the top of the list.
Quality refers to the fact that only new products are eligible for the buy box listing. Those who sell the same products, but “Used”, will always forfeit.
Based on their geography, more than one person can win the buy box given their warehouse location. The “Sold by” section rotates companies, according to the items nearest the consumer. For instance, the listing viewed in New York will have a different company than the same listing viewed in Texas.
This all depends on the fulfillment centers and whether your stock is available to that consumer.
Once you have clarity of the ins-and-outs of the Amazon buy box, you can determine how to beat the competition. When you’re new to the retail sport, practice makes perfect, but some pro tips wouldn’t hurt.
The following are three methods likely to aid your entrance into the buy box.
As of right now, there are two options when you first sign up. You can choose from either an Individual or Professional selling plan. Both of which have fees, but only resellers with the Professional Plans are eligible to win the buy box.
If you’re a small company, however, perhaps the Individual Selling Plan is the option you want or need, but it’s a tricky find.
When you first start the sign-up process, Amazon wants you to join the big guys competing. Thus, they hide the Individual option and make the Professional Selling Plan their default.
Check Out: Free Amazon Tools For FBA Sellers
Don’t fret! This is how you can locate the Individual plan:
Think of the Individual Plan as a basic subscription. It’s low cost and maybe good at the beginning, but you have limited access to the features that truly help you sell. Though you can play with the big guys, but you’ll be benched the entire game.
In order to qualify for Seller Fulfillment Prime, you first have to be Fulfilled By Amazon.
If you’ve ever ordered a product off of Amazon Prime and have gotten an AMZL US tracking number, for example, this means the seller was using Amazon fulfilment.
This is an easy qualification given that when you sign up with the Professional Selling Plan, you automatically allow Amazon to fulfill your purchase orders.
There are several differences between being Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) and being a Seller Fulfillment Prime (SFP). But let’s focus on the one that matters – by falling under SFP, you are guaranteed eligibility into the buy box.
Then, you go through the rigorous trial period to prove you can handle the responsibility.
This should make sense to anyone who has ever used Amazon, as over 200 million users have Amazon Prime accounts.That’s a lot of pressure and some can crack under it.
Resellers under SFP are fully responsible for shipping out the orders within the two-day requirement when needed. This can be a great thing if you like having full control over your inventory!
Currently, the Seller Fulfillment Prime is experiencing high demand, so new sellers will need to join the waitlist.
Have we mentioned that Amazon is customer-obsessed? The marketplace will reward your customer service skills most of all, given that is what their mission statement centers around. The quantity and quality of ratings matter!
High quality ratings isn’t as tricky as you may think. Ultimately, it boils down to customer service and reviews.
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A great start to quality customer service is paying attention to shipping details! Especially when you are an SFP reseller, where the logistics of your merchandise have to be on point 99% of the time, at all times. Make sure you are fulfilling the orders correctly and in a timely manner to avoid bad customer service.
As an eCommerce merchant, it’s important to understand the importance of packaging. Not only the branding, but also the literal packing support. Heavy merchandise requires extra care so that items arrive to the customer in one piece.
Another way to provide great customer care is to be clear when listing your products. Online services are really tricky because people can’t physically go through your inventory.
Two ways you can let your consumers know what your selling is by:
Consumers are given a sort of comfort to see what they will be receiving, in all angles. If you’re a fashion merchant, show them how to wear and style the item.
Provide them assistance by sharing an precise measuring chart. Given an accurate color of the item available. Black does not mean gray.
The more information your consumer has, the more likely they are to purchase from you.
Think of your description box as a proposal to your customers. Let them know all the facts first, like dimensions, size, colors, and quantity. Followed by the usage, describe how versatile your product can be.
You don’t have to be an expert in what your selling, but you do have to be transparent in the sale. In turn, your consumers will learn to trust you.
Reviews are all about staying in touch! Implement a system where you follow up with your customer as soon as they receive their package.
A thank you card, for example, would be nice or a printed message that tells them more about your company and how they can review the purchase.
Another efficient method that will allow you to connect is follow-up emails! This should be really simple with all the resources Amazon gives you. By creating an email sequence, you show your customers that you’re paying attention.
Below, I am using some personal examples of the emails received after purchasing custom items from a merchant at Amazon.
The following emails are broken down to show how the merchant kept their emails friendly with their main objective being a positive review:
Also Read: Jungle Scout Review
Email #1. Purchase Confirmation – Amazon has your back with delivery updates, but you can still connect.
Email #2. Product Follow Up – Did they like it? If they didn’t, try to do something about it first.
Email #3. Review Us! – There’s nothing wrong with asking one last time.
As you can tell from these emails, reviews are their mission, but they never fail to be helpful or kind. Also, the correspondence stopped after the third one!
You want to encourage your audience to share their experiences, but not so much that you push them away by spamming their inbox.
When you think about it, Amazon is basically giving you a guide to the buy box if you pay close attention. You just have to think backwards:
Customers are #1 → Customers Pay for Prime → SFP = Prime Badge → Without FBA there is no SFP → Without a Professional Selling Plan there is no FBA
High quality customer service is the driving force behind the buy box, so do your best to show Amazon you have what it takes. If that means improving your methods, start right now.
Whoever your target market is, they want affordable products. As 1 out 100,000 or more merchants, you’re likely to be competing with each other on the price.
Amazon prioritizes customer service over everything, which includes hooking them up with the best deal. Make sure you can give it to them, and you will have a much higher chance of getting that buy box slot.
That said, mind your margins. In the marketplace, the same products can vary in price between $5 – $20. Don’t feel pressured to lower your price just because your competitor went down to $19.95 instead of your $20 value.
Understand how low you can really push it and justify your price by focusing on other details. Such as, top quality merchandise that will satisfy the needs of your target market.
You can’t sell something if you don’t have it. The minute you run out of stock, you lose your spot, and Amazon no longer trusts that you belong in the buy box. If you’re low on certain items, don’t make them available for the buy box.
There are still several households that haven’t enrolled into Amazon Prime. Your low stocked products will still be sold. In the meantime, put your best foot forward and get your products moving.
Sometimes, Amazon rotates the buy box among multiple sellers in a day. This usually happens if multiple sellers are eligible for the buy box, and the rotation depends on the Amazon algorithm.
No one knows how the algorithm chooses the sellers to rotate, but ultimately, there are two types of buy box rotation.
The first is the simple buy box rotation, whereby Amazon rotated the buy box between two sellers or more. This type of buy box rotation depends on your performance as a seller.
On the other hand, the second is the complex buy box rotation, which uses different deciding factors. In particular, the complex big box rotation considers price as the most important factor.
The buy box algorithm cannot be manipulated. Sometimes, even if you meet all the requirements, you still won’t get into the buy box rotation.
Amazon sometimes removes the buy box completely, and this is known as “buy box suppression.” When such happens, you’ll no longer find the “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” buttons, and sellers often wonder why.
Well, the Amazon buy box suppression happens due to many reasons. But mostly, it has to do with Amazon’s marketplace fair pricing policy.
Amazon can penalize sellers that violate their fair pricing policy. And one way they do so is by removing or suppressing the buy box. Therefore, you can avoid this by simply conforming to Amazon pricing policy.
How do you know you’re violating Amazon marketplace fair pricing policy? You’re violating the policy if your price is extremely lower or higher than other similar products in the marketplace.
Sometimes, this may not be intentional. An example is if you listed your product low on discount and then switched to a higher price afterward. Nevertheless, it can still trigger a buy box suppression.
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With the great buy box power comes great responsibility. The benefit of the Amazon Marketplace is the guaranteed audience you’ll be receiving. You won’t be starting from scratch!
The downside, you may find, is the heavy competition and the fees involved. Ultimately it just depends on your business model and where you want to get started.
As previously mentioned, the algorithm will take everything into account and try to give every retailer their spotlight.
The strategies above will help you become an eligible candidate for the buy box, but there is no telling when you will get your turn.
One thing is for sure – educate yourself on the inner workings of Amazon as they are starting to pave the way for many eCommerce sites, including Walmart and eBay.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.