There are no shortage of theories and methods available with a cursory Google search that will provide advice and direction to win the buy box. Unfortunately, some of what you will read gives you 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.
Obviously, the truth lies somewhere in between. The fact is, no single person or company has a magic formula that will work that will 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. There are certain circumstances where 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 out there 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 that just having the lowest price. Let’s walk through a few of these components to better understand the big picture.
- Your “Landed” Price:
Alright, I know I just said that price isn’t the be-all, end-all to Amazon’s algorithm, but since it IS very important and the easiest one to understand, let’s get that discussion out of the way. Besides, when Amazon themselves lists Pricing as their first item of importance, I supposed it’d be wise to start there!
You always need to be aware of 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 smaller details. There’s a good reason for this! Amazon doesn’t want to turn into a 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 need to 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 simply 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 good 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, they’ll see that too…and some people hate to lose! So what’s the result? Back and forth pricing changes that results in lower profits, time wasted and (in the end) you still may not win that buy box!
What we obviously recommend to help with this issue is some sort of automated Amazon Repricer program, like our Store Automator Repricer. You’ll want to be able to set your minimum price, shipping costs, 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 just to get rid of it. You certainly don’t want to be competing against those people! But, an automated repricer such as Store Automator’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 important 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 what I will say is that if you REALLY 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 certainly fulfill the orders yourself, but you will have to make sure that you’re fantastic at it! You’ll need to make sure you have a variety of shipping options including expedited delivery (like Amazon has) and that your rates are competitive. Offering expedited deliver at $10.99 for next day when Amazon can offer it for $3.99 doesn’t put you in the best position, does it?
It is important to note that while FBA sellers have a major advantage in winning the buy box, but not every product is necessarily a good fit to be FBA. The seller needs to make this choice by looking at factors such as the fulfillment costs on their own versus FBA (which includes outbound shipping to an FBA warehouse). Successful Amazon sellers often adopt a hybrid model which includes both FBA and FBM.
By partnering with Amazon in such a way, you’re letting them handle the packing, shipping and distribution of your items which gives them a lot of control. Therefore, they can assure, from a shipping/fulfillment perspective, that you will be offering what they consider to be the best service. Beyond that…customer service is up to you! But in order to get into the mix for winning the buy box, your best alternative is to simply hook up with Amazon as an FBA company.
- Seller Rating / Feedback:
The last discussion I will provide in this article is the importance of your Seller Rating and the associate Feedback. As a buyer on Amazon, over the last year I’ve noticed a HUGE up-tick in the number of requests I receive from sellers asking me to provide positive feedback for them. 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 key 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 cancelled orders (ESPECIALLY if you’re the one cancelling 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 components, but they are certainly three of the most heavily weighted factors when it comes to the magic algorithm Amazon uses to decide who wins that buy box.
In future articles, we’ll be mentioning additional components in more detail, but for now you need to make sure you’re taking the time to understand where things are with your systems right now, fix anything that you have the power to fix and keep moving forward so you can be the one on the front page!