The Buy Box is one of the most important aspects of advertising on Amazon. 82% of sales on Amazon come through the Buy Box, and only products that win the Buy Box are eligible for advertising. Retailers who do not capture this top spot severely hamper their reach and revenue potential on Amazon.
Below you’ll learn exactly what the Buy Box is, how to ensure your products win the Buy Box, and why it plays a critical role in your sales and advertising strategies as often as possible.
What Is the Buy Box
The Buy Box is the white box to the right of the product image. It contains the “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” buttons. Retailers who sell the same product, and meet the eligibility requirements, compete to win this spot.
To be Buy Box eligible, retailers’ products must be new, in-stock, and sold through a professional seller account.
The Buy Box is a critical aspect to retailers’ advertising and sales strategy because it is the primary way consumers shop on Amazon. While shoppers can purchase products from other areas of the marketplace, such as Other Sellers on Amazon and the Offer Listing Page, the Buy Box is by far the most popular purchase destination.
When retailers “win the Buy Box” they actually win a share of it. Their product might appear 70% of the time, for example, while a competitor’s product might “win the Buy Box” the other 30% of the time. The greater share of the Buy Box the retailer earns, the greater its revenue potential on Amazon.
How to Win the Buy Box
“Winning the Buy Box” is a misleading term. In reality, retailers win a share of the Buy Box, and that share is determined by Amazon’s algorithm. Amazon weighs several factors to determine which products to feature in the top spot. Of these factors, the most important are price, shipping time, and fulfillment method.
Price: More often than not, the lowest priced product wins the Buy Box. That is why many retailers invest in repricing solutions for their Amazon accounts. Repricing solutions automatically set product prices to the lowest on the marketplace. This tactic can be risky, though, because it continuously depreciates retailers’ margins.
Shipping: Amazon favors retailers who guarantee the fastest shipping times. Particularly for items that rely on quick delivery, such as perishables, shipping can be the most heavily weighted metric for winning the Buy Box.
Fulfillment: Retailers who use Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) gain an automatic boost in the Buy Box. FBA is a paid service in which Amazon handles warehousing, shipping, and customer service. Retailers who use FBA are eligible for Prime, and products sold on Prime gain greater prominence in the Buy Box.
There are drawbacks to using FBA. Amazon charges an additional fee for the service, which can diminish margins. Retailers also lose control over shipping and fulfillment. Seller Fulfilled Prime is a fulfillment alternative that avoids the additional cost and maintains retailers’ control. Using this method, retailers can still participate in Prime. To qualify for Seller Fulfilled Prime, retailers must ship orders on time and have a low order cancellations rate (<0.5%).
Other Customer Service Metrics: On-time delivery, shipment tracking, positive customer feedback, and fast customer response time, all influence the Buy Box. While these customer service metrics have a smaller impact on Amazon’s algorithm, they can improve a retailer’s share of the Buy Box. If, for example, a retailer cannot participate in FBA, it can focus on improving its customer service metrics to make up for that lack.
How the Buy Box Impacts Advertising
If a retailer’s product does not win the Buy Box, it is not eligible for advertising. This helps Amazon balance its need to serve customers low prices while also meeting the needs of retailers who pay to promote their products. For example, if a retailer selling a pair of hiking boots advertises those boots on Amazon, its product ad will only appear when the hiking boots win the Buy Box. If a competitor’s less expensive hiking boots wins the top spot, then the retailer’s ad will not appear. This protects retailers from paying to advertise a competitor’s products.
Advertising on Amazon creates a virtuous cycle. It drives greater traffic to a retailer’s products, indicating the consumer’s preference and improving seller metrics. As a result, the retailer’s odds of winning the Buy Box go up. That is why it is critical that retailers lay the foundation for long-term Buy Box success.
Winning the Buy Box requires a variety of tactics. Retailers must provide low prices as well as fast shipping and superior fulfillment. While this may seem like a tall order, winning the Buy Box is table stakes for Amazon sellers. Retailers who can master these different areas of the platform will gain the majority share of the Buy Box, increase the visibility of their ads, and continue the cycle of sales growth. That level of revenue growth is well worth the extra effort required to win the Buy Box.