How get into Amazon’s ‘buy box’

Appearing in the box on the right of their page can make all the difference when it comes to sales.

How get into Amazon’s ‘buy box’

Peter Munton, Senior Performance Manager at Incubeta, explains how to be seen in the right places and give your sales a boost…

With Amazon Prime Day generating £8.66billion globally and the retail giant racking up record profits throughout the pandemic due to its quick delivery, cheap prices and variety of products, it’s become an invaluable platform for big retailers. However, for the 1.9million retailers and resellers who try to make money through Amazon, many find it difficult winning the coveted Amazon ‘buy box’. 

Whenever you view a product page on Amazon, the buy box is located on the right of the page, giving viewers their first opportunity to buy the featured product via the ‘Add to cart’ button. This is great news for the retailer in the box, as 82% of all sales on Amazon are made via the buy box. The problem is that Amazon is a marketplace where there are often multiple sellers on the platform selling the same product. With more than 4 out of 5 consumers never venturing beyond that first product page and buy box vendor, it’s important for retailers of all sizes to understand how Amazon’s buy box works and what they can do to optimise their chances of winning it.

The pecking order

So how does Amazon’s algorithm decide which lucky retailer gets to appear in the buy box? Essentially, the box is reserved for the ‘number one seller’ of a product, but what exactly does Amazon mean by that?

There are a range of different factors that can come into play. The most important of these is the fulfilment method. Sellers that are fulfilled by Amazon Prime are likely to be given an advantage over sellers who are not. Likewise, sellers who have goods dispatched by Amazon will be given the edge over retailers who fulfil orders themselves.

Generally speaking, if Amazon does sell a product, the buy box will point to that version of it with Amazon itself accounting for around 98% of sales. Obviously, this is a big disadvantage to third-party sellers trying to trade in products that are already being sold on Amazon, by Amazon. 

Another factor taken into consideration is ‘shipping time’. If you only have a choice of third-party vendors selling a product, Amazon will usually favour the vendor with the shortest shipping time. The price of the product (including shipping costs) is also a factor that can come into play, with Amazon often selecting the lowest-priced version of the product for the buy box.

Last but not least, a vendor’s seller rating is a powerful measurement. If a vendor has been on Amazon for years and built up good seller reviews, they’ll be in a better position compared to a relatively new retailer or one with poor reviews.

Getting your share

One way for retailers to boost their chances of securing buy boxes for their own product pages is to be constantly monitoring search results on Amazon. 

Retailers can leverage marketing monitoring tools to analyse their performance on marketplaces such as Amazon. By tracking who is winning the buy box, retailers can clearly see who their main competition is and what they’ll need to do to boost their chances of winning a buy box bid. Certain market tools can pull this information together and provide a bespoke dashboard report on the buy boxes, highlighting key areas to change to boost the percentage of the time they win those boxes.

These learnings can then be applied to individual products or overall product stacks to see how a retailer is currently ranking comparatively to other sellers on important factors such as price, shipping time and customer reviews. Making adjustments that achieve even a small increase in percentage share could deliver a significant uplift in revenues for a business.

While it’s undisputed that Amazon is one of the most powerful e-commerce channels in the world, the reality is, if you’re a smaller retailer you need to be maximising visibility by optimising your Amazon services. It’s all too easy to become lost amongst the millions of other retailers vying to be seen, so make sure you stand out of the crowd by becoming ‘buy box’ savvy.


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