If you’re an Amazon seller, you know that having your products listed in the “hot seat” that is Amazon’s so-called “Buy Box” is the key to generating lots of product sales. If you’re new to selling on Amazon, you should know that getting your products featured in the platform’s Buy Box is a goal you should strive towards.
What is the Amazon Buy Box?
Amazon’s platform permits multiple sellers to list their product prices for a single product listing. Once the customer selects the product he’d like to examine in more detail, Amazon provides that customer with a landing page containing a single checkout button on its right sidebar, also known as the Buy Box. This button, which is essentially a call-to-action button, is labeled with “Add to Cart” text.
Other Amazon sellers are also noted on this landing page; however, their products are listed far less prominently.
Given its prominence on the landing page, it’s clear that any product that wins the Buy Box has a huge advantage over its competitors. Furthermore, the Buy Box’s checkout button directly links to the winning seller’s offer.
Because of this obvious advantage, Amazon sellers have vied with each other to win product Buy Boxes by using strategies such as lowering prices, increasing inventories, and providing excellent customer service. Even so, the route to the Buy Box has remained elusive. Even once it’s obtained, there’s no guarantee that a seller will keep it; maintaining one’s hold on the Buy Box is fraught with frustration. Likewise, the threat of Amazon counterfeiters and pirates doesn’t help.
Because winning the Buy Box is fraught with frustration, Amazon has created a set of guidelines for buyers who wish to learn more about getting and keeping this premium real estate. Within the Sellers’ area of Amazon, you can learn about how the Buy Box works and how to increase your chances of winning it.
For starters, ambitious sellers must qualify for Featured Merchant Status, which is linked to seller performance criteria (i.e., sellers who almost always provide a great buying experience). Once this status is achieved, sellers must satisfy other criteria that are factored into the (largely undisclosed) Buy Box algorithm, including the following:
- Comparable price: While the seller needn’t have the lowest product price, that price should be comparable to those of other sellers.
- Rating: A high seller rating is a must.
- Performance: Ideal merchants should have few returns and/or order cancellations and loads of positive feedback.
- Inventory: Products, as well as product variations (e.g., size, color), need to be in stock and ready to ship.
- Active sales: This least controllable criterion adds credibility to the seller and the products.
All this information is a great start for Amazon sellers who want to know what it takes to achieve Buy Box eligibility and permanence. However, what Amazon doesn’t explain is that other sellers already have all those criteria down pat- and they have Featured Merchant Status.
So, how can a seller, and especially a newbie seller, differentiate herself from the crowd?
Uncommon strategies for winning the Buy Box
Offer unexpected products. When it comes to selling on Amazon, there already are a million and one merchants selling your affiliate and other products. However, you can stand out from this crowd by offering unique products that are either combinations of like products or feature bonus items.
In light of the fact that other merchants are already selling your products, look for items that are more rare and unexpected when considering your affiliate marketing or product generation strategy. Don’t just sell brand name running shoes, for example; instead, sell running shoes with specialty laces or inserts. Do what you can to stand out from the crowd.
Don’t focus on price only. Some merchants are so bent on getting into the Buy Box that they outcompete and outsell competitor sellers only to run out of inventory. Avoid this risk by keeping your prices reasonable. Then, sit back and wait for your competitors to mess up. Once their stashes have dwindled, ramp up your own prices and inventory and reap the profits.
Offer loss leaders. You don’t have to take painful profit losses on your big ‘meal ticket’ items in order to become #1. However, you can simultaneously offer lower and bargain priced items that don’t necessarily make you any profit. Why? These low-priced items will help build your credibility as you sell them en masse and provide excellent customer experiences to boot. And you won’t care too much about selling a $2 item that you purchased at $2 anyway.
Provide a little extra. You can bundle your product with an e-book, other product samples, training guides, etc. and provide that to your customers as a thank you gift with their purchases. Alternately, you can send your customers a follow-up product via email once their purchases have gone through. Should you create and send out that thank you product, be sure to ask for feedback from your customers in your ‘transactional’ communication. While you can’t ask for positive feedback, you can certainly make things go in your favor with that thank-you item.
It is possible to be #1.
Don’t automatically assume that, just because you’re new to Amazon or sell a limited quantity of items, you can’t get featured in the Buy Box. If you consistently provide a great customer experience and don’t gouge your customers on price, you should curry favor with Amazon quickly. After that, it’s up to you in terms of how much product you wish to sell.