It seems like there are a lot of questions around how to sell on Amazon, especially since Amazon is one of the few growing online marketplaces right now. Amazon is a complex system which can’t be fully covered in one post, and indeed there are entire sites devoted to Amazon. However, in a single post we can get some traction around the buy box.

What is the Amazon Buy Box?

The Amazon Buy Box is the way Amazon compares like products. Instead of a product listing page with rows of matching results as you would see on a typical CSE, Amazon creates a master product page which incorporates all information known to Amazon, as passed on my eligible sellers of that product. Next, Amazon displays the competitive offers from merchants in the upper right hand portion of the page. The buy box contains a single offer and frames the now classic Amazon ‘Add to Shopping Cart’ button which has been duplicated by webmasters around the world. Below this section, Amazon delivers up the consumer a quick review of competing merchant offers.

What Does It Mean to ‘Win the Buy Box’?

All offers are not created equal, and Amazon has developed a system to lead the consumer to the desired offer. Amazon has constructed a tiered offer sheet, where the most desirable listing is located at top and is directly connected to the main shopping cart button. In order to buy from other merchants selling the same item, the consumer needs to examine the much smaller and less obvious product offers below the buy box and then click on the much smaller “Add to Cart” buttons.  Because Amazon sees one offer as superior, Amazon attempts to drive the consumer to the winner of the buy box, and thus receive the majority of sales. Compared to the winner, sales significantly drop off for other merchants underneath the buy box. Remember every site design study you have seen, where consumers are drawn to bold calls-to-action, and you understand why winning the buy box is so important.

Can you sell items when not winning the buy box? Sure, of course you can. However, if you want to sell a reasonable amount outside of the buy box, you better have a very enticing offer (that means the cheapest price). So,that leads to the final question…

How Does A Merchant Win the Buy Box?

As stated, Amazon looks to show the most desirable offer. Amazon uses many different variables to calculate the buy box winner. Ultimately this can be divided into 2 types of variables. On one hand, Amazon is looking to give the best value to the consumer, and then Amazon is looking to determine how likely it is the merchant will provide the product in a satisfying manner.

Factors for the buy box:

Be eligible: First, you need to be eligible. This means being an Amazon Gold Level merchant or higher. (Essentially, this means Amazon trusts you)

Price: The most important aspect. This includes the selling price of the item plus shipping. The lowest combined price gets the most relevancy.

Availability: This includes how many of the items are available and how quickly the item will ship. Pay more attention to shipping time, or fulfillment latency. The quicker an item can be shipped, the better.

Volume: This refers to how many of these products are being sold. So the more products sold by a merchant, the higher the relevancy.

Refunds: This refers to the amount of refunds given based on merchant error. The more refunds a merchant dishes, that is the more the merchant backs out of the sale, the worse the relevancy.

Costumer Feedback: Just like eBay once was, feedback can be king. If a merchant can not maintain minimum levels of feedback (determined by category), then a merchant may be blocked from being eligible for the buy box.

A-to-Z Guarantee Claims: This refers to returns, and is another component of measuring costumer satisfaction.

When all of these factors are combined together, this results in a combined value which is then measured against other sellers of the item. The most relevant, or the highest value offer then wins the buy box.

Posted in: Amazon.
Last Modified: March 31, 2009

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