How to make sure you win the Amazon buy box

Some Amazon sellers have difficulty understanding the buy box. On many product pages, it looks similar to a buy button on eBay or on an e-commerce website. But it isn’t.

An algorithm chooses Amazon’s best option out of the different product offers available for an item. It basically does the work of comparison for the buyer to make their lives simple. So if several different sellers are selling the same product, the buy box will be for the best offer – and it might not be yours.

So the buy box is separate from the listing. And if you don’t own the buy box, you can’t create PPC ads. (If you could, you’d be paying for your competitor’s advertising!)

How does Amazon’s algorithm work? We’re not sure what the exact weightings of each element are, but it looks at your account metrics, your sales volumes, your review scores, and your inventory. And of course, it also looks at your price. Basically, what Amazon is doing with the buy box is vetting sellers, doing the buyer’s due diligence for them, and creating a much speedier checkout process.

You can easily check how often you’re getting the buy box on Amazon Seller Central, which gives you a two-day average.

You can also use the dashboard under ‘Manage Inventory’ to check your price competitiveness. You may have lost the buy box because a single competitor has a special discount, which is likely to be temporary. In one case, a seller had a special offer on their herbal tea – a rival Amazon seller bought up a huge amount of stock at 50% off, then sold it on Amazon for a quick profit. You probably don’t need to respond in this kind of situation – once the stock is gone, things will quickly get back to normal.

On the other hand, if you see that several competitors have prices similar to or below yours, you may need to respond either by lowering your price or having a coupon promotion.

If you have too many products to track, Amazon lets you automate repricing to match buy box prices. The ‘automate pricing’ tool lets you create custom rules for your pricing. You should probably pick ‘competitive buy box’ rather than ‘competitive lowest price’ – there may be some low-priced vendors who don’t qualify to get the buy box because of poor metrics on their account, so you don’t need to compete with them.

By the way, if you’re an FBA seller, and a Prime seller (which you are automatically if you are FBA), those will also help secure the buy box for you.

Now you may be thinking you have a private label product, and you’re brand registered, so how can you not have the buy box? There are a few reasons, so let’s run through them.

First of all, you may have run out of stock. It’s worth checking! If you don’t have any stock, Amazon won’t let customers buy something you can’t deliver.

Secondly, Amazon sometimes suppresses the buy box. For instance, if you just put the product price up by 50%, it may do so. Customers can still buy, but it’s more difficult – basically, Amazon has given them an “are you really sure?” dialog.

The third reason is that your reviews are terrible or you have poor account metrics. This is one reason you need to keep on top of your feedback and make sure if your metrics start to dip, you catch any issues before Amazon does.

The other reason you might lose the buy box is that someone has hijacked your listing – basically offering a knock-off product. In this case, you need to contact Seller support right away so that things can be put right. Amazon takes its integrity pretty seriously, so hopefully, you’ll see fast action.

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