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Master the Amazon Buy Box: Win Every Time
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If you’ve been selling on Amazon for a while already, you’ve probably figured out that there isn’t one key to winning the Amazon Buy Box. There are a host of different variables that influence a seller’s likelihood of winning this valuable space.
Moreover, keep in mind that the term “winning the Buy Box” is actually misleading. More accurate would be to say “winning a percentage of the Buy Box,” since Amazon rotates the Buy Box “winners” every hour. In the end, what you’re shooting for is a bigger piece of that Buy Box pie. So without further ado, here are our best practices for getting your products more time in the Buy Box.
1. Have an algorithmic repricer
A study conducted by Northeastern University found that algorithmic repricing is directly correlated with higher Buy Box share and profits. According to the head researcher, Christo Wilson, “Amazon is much more likely to feature sellers in the Buy Box who use an automated practice called algorithmic pricing, even though their prices may be higher than those who don’t.”
The study also found that “60 percent of sellers using algorithmic pricing have prices that are higher than the lowest price for a given product.” This information should help debunk the popular perception that the lowest price automatically wins. What’s happening here is that sophisticated algorithmic repricers are more successful at determining the ideal price for each product. The algorithms weigh a variety of seller and competitor metrics to determine the maximum price a seller can sell his products for without forfeiting Buy Box share.
The moral of the story is, Amazon awards the Buy Box to sellers based on more than just price. An Amazon repricer that takes into account the complexity of Amazon’s Buy Box decision making will have better results for its users.
One caveat: Many repricers that are in fact just a bundle of rules call themselves “algorithmic repricers.” Before you commit, make sure they really have the science and data analysis to back up their claims.
[To learn more about the differences between rule-based and algorithmic repricing, click here.]
2. Delight your customers
Amazon’s formula for allocating the Buy Box puts a premium on customer satisfaction. That means it’s key to focus your efforts on the metrics that play into it — shipping time, order defect rate, cancellation rate, policy violations, contact response time, on-time delivery rate, and in-stock levels. Click on the “Performance” tab in Seller Central, and then “Account Health,” to view your seller performance.
To be realistic, it can be challenging to consistently deliver on all the customer satisfaction parameters. Especially when you are focused on growing your business fast, other (important) things can sometimes slip through the cracks. One way of relieving the pressure of providing perfect service is by using FBA (it also has the added benefit of making you immediately Buy Box eligible, even if you’ve just started selling on Amazon). Yes, you’ll have to pay those pesky fees, but your metrics will climb once Amazon is the one fulfilling your orders. You may discover that it’s a small price to pay for providing that customer-obsessed service you need to win the Buy Box.
[Not sure if FBA is worth it for you? Learn more about its advantages here.]
3. Stay in stock
It sounds obvious, but staying in stock is critical if you want to win the Buy Box. Amazon wants to avoid stock-outs, as well as situations where two customers add the same item to their cart at the same time — only to find out there’s not enough product for one of them.
Here are a few tips to ensure your stock levels are up to par:
- Selling a popular ASIN during a holiday season? Chances are, so are other sellers. Anticipate the higher-than-usual demand and make sure you have plenty of stock. Otherwise, the Buy Box will be rotated to your competitor. Not only will you miss out on sales, but your metrics will take a hit.
- Getting great reviews on a product? This frequently predicts an uptick in orders. Be sure you always have a little extra inventory on hand to accommodate rises in product popularity.
- Getting hit with Long-Term Storage Fees (if FBA), or is your office filled with items that don’t move? While carrying excess inventory certainly won’t hurt your chances of winning the Buy Box, it can drain your pockets. If you find yourself constantly liquidating and losing money on ASINs, you’ve gone too far in the other direction.
4. Get good feedback
Your feedback score is one of the primary factors Amazon takes into account when granting the Buy Box. Adopt Amazon’s customer-first mindset, and keep the following pointers in mind.
First things first: avoid getting into trouble with Amazon for breaking its feedback rules. Amazon forbids the following:
- Paid Reviews: Payment is any sort of compensation, even if reviews are posted in exchange for receiving a free product from the business (commonly known as “incentivized reviews”).
- Promotional Reviews: Artists, authors, developers, manufacturers, publishers, sellers, or vendors are not allowed to write customer reviews for their own products or services, to post negative reviews on competing products or services, or to vote on the helpfulness of reviews.
- Reviews by Interested Parties: Family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write customer reviews for their items.
Once you’re playing by Amazon’s rules, it’s time to put your efforts into attracting great reviews. Here are a couple of best practices we recommend for boosting your feedback:
- Consider switching to FBA: Once Amazon is handling your customer interactions, you’ll stop getting fulfillment-related bad ratings.
- Provide excellent images: Have clear images at the maximum allowed image size, and offer multiple views of a product.
- Get your content in order: Make sure all details in the product description are accurate, and add product dimensions and sizing charts where relevant. The more relevant information you can provide, the better.
- Send a polite and friendly request for feedback to the customer after the shipment has been received. Just make sure not to offer any rewards.
As you’ve seen, there is no direct ticket to the Buy Box. That’s part of why being an Amazon entrepreneur is for many people a full-time job — there are a lot of things you need to get right, and not much room for error. But by using an advanced algorithmic repricer, keeping your customers satisfied, staying in stock, and maintaining positive feedback, you’ll be well on your way to conquering the Buy Box.
Want to learn more about winning the Buy Box? Download our free Buy Box Bible here!