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Winning the Amazon Buy Box: Be Well Informed…and a Little Lucky!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rbcm4OIG3Q&t=103s

There is no shortage of theories and methods available. A cursory Google search will provide advice and direction to win the buy box.  Unfortunately, some of what you read gives the impression that a company’s software can “virtually guarantee” that you will win the buy box.  Others will tell you that you can fly to the moon and stand on your head with live video streaming and STILL not have a snowball’s chance of winning the buy box.

The truth lies somewhere in between.  No single person or company has a magic formula that will work and guarantee you a buy-box win.  Anyone who does…RUN! What is true is that there are a lot of components to improving your chances of winning.  And when it comes down to it, that’s all you can do…improve your chances.  In certain circumstances, you will never be able to win it because Amazon (at the end of the day) calls the shots.

So – what can you do to improve your chances of landing the Amazon buy box and getting your product ahead of your competition?  Some people that aren’t “in the know” feel that it’s a price issue and nothing more.  Of course, you’re not going to win the buy box very often with the HIGHEST price out there, and although it’s in the top 2 or 3 deciding factors, there’s a lot more to it than just having the lowest price.  Let’s walk through a few of these components to understand the big picture better.

Your “Landed” Price:

Alright, I know I just said that price isn’t the be-all, end-all of Amazon’s algorithm, but since it IS essential and the easiest one to understand, let’s get that discussion out of the way.  Besides, when Amazon lists Pricing as their first item of importance, I supposed it’d be wise to start there!

You must always know how your price stacks up against your competition.  Remember, it’s not just your sales price that is taken into account when Amazon crunches the numbers; it’s also your shipping price, the shipping provider, the manufacturer, the distance to be shipped, and a few other minor details.  There’s a good reason for this!  Amazon doesn’t want to turn into an eBay where someone can list a $15 item at 10 cents but have $14.99 in shipping costs.  It will track all of this and calculate where you will land compared to others.

So, when you’re getting ready to set your price, you must be well informed about your competition.  Keep in mind, because there are other important factors involved, you don’t need to get into a price war and constantly keep dropping your selling price to the lowest that’s out there.  You want to be “one of the lowest,” so you’re in the hunt for the buy box.

Besides, getting into a price war isn’t suitable for anyone.  You spend time and effort targeting a single company (or a few companies), constantly dropping your price slightly below theirs.  The problem is that they’ll see that, too…and some people hate losing!  So what’s the result?  Back-and-forth pricing changes result in lower profits, wasted time, and (in the end) you may not win that buy box!

What we recommend to help with this issue is some automated Amazon Repricer program, like our StoreAutomator Repricer.  You’ll want to be able to set your minimum price, shipping costs, and desired profit margin and also set up who you might want to ignore…such as competitors with terrible feedback or those that have excess inventory that they’re trying to unload at a loss to get rid of it.  You certainly don’t want to be competing against those people!  But, an automated repricer such as StoreAutomator’s Repricer allows you to set criteria that will help keep you competitive but not take time away from running your business!

Fulfillment Method:

FBA – Fulfillment by Amazon…a HUGE component to having a chance at the buy box.  Some believe that this is the most critical factor.  Amazon, of course, has all the how-to information on FBA  (https://services.amazon.com/fulfillment-by-amazon/how-it-works.htm?ld=SEUSFBAGOOGB1191077237&adpos=1t1&creative=40356998863&device=c&matchtype=b&network=g) so there’s no need for me to repeat all of that.

But I will say that if you want to boost your chances of winning that buy box and getting noticed, you’ll want to be set up as an FBA customer. Of course, this isn’t an absolute requirement.  You can undoubtedly fulfill the orders yourself, but you must ensure you’re fantastic at it!  You’ll need to ensure that your rates are competitive and that you have various shipping options, including expedited delivery (like Amazon has).  Offering expedited delivery at $10.99 for the next day when Amazon can offer it for $3.99 doesn’t put you in the best position.

It is important to note that while FBA sellers have a significant advantage in winning the buy box, not every product is necessarily a good fit to be FBA.  The seller needs to choose this by looking at factors such as the fulfillment costs on their own versus FBA (including outbound shipping to an FBA warehouse).  Successful Amazon sellers often adopt a hybrid model, including FBA and FBM.

By partnering with Amazon in such a way, you’re letting them handle your items’ packing, shipping, and distribution, giving them a lot of control.  Therefore, from a shipping/fulfillment perspective, they can assure you that you will be offering what they consider the best service.  Beyond that…customer service is up to you!  But to get into the mix for winning the buy box, your best alternative is to hook up with Amazon as an FBA company.

Seller Rating / Feedback:

The last discussion in this article is the importance of your Seller Rating and the associate Feedback.  As a buyer on Amazon, over the previous year, I’ve noticed a HUGE uptick in the number of requests I receive from sellers asking me to provide positive feedback.  Sometimes it’s about their shipping, sometimes it’s about the product or the customer service…but it seems that EVERYONE is now sending out automated follow-up emails requesting positive feedback.

Amazon prides itself on a positive customer experience.  They certainly won’t be winning a lot of Amazon Prime members over if everyone is leaving negative reviews!  That’s money out of their pocket…and they’re not fans of that! The short story – Amazon would love to give you the buy box more often if you have consistently proved that you are a great Amazon seller and can keep a positive feedback history.

A few of the critical components that will help you earn and maintain your seller rating (per Amazon) include:

  • Responding to all messages within 24 hours
  • Avoid shipping out products AFTER the promised ship date
  • Minimize canceled orders (ESPECIALLY if you’re the one canceling them!)
  • Avoid chargebacks whenever possible
  • Avoid negative feedback whenever possible.

So, as I mentioned in the title of this article, you’ll want to be sure that you understand what TRULY makes up the things needed to win the buy box, but you also have to be a little bit lucky and fire on all cylinders at the right time!

The three components listed above aren’t the ONLY, but they are undoubtedly three of the most heavily weighted factors regarding the magic algorithm Amazon uses to decide who wins that buy box.

In future articles, we’ll be mentioning additional components in more detail. Still, you need to make sure you’re taking the time to understand where things are with your systems right now, fix anything you have the power to improve and keep moving forward so you can be the one on the front page!