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Amazon Buy Box: What It Is, and How to Win It
10/02/20 — 0 min read

What is the Amazon Buy Box, and How Can You Win It?

by Drew Estes

Whether you’re a new seller in the Amazon FBA world or you’ve been around the block, you’ve probably heard of the “Buy Box” Amazon places on some product listings.

But what is Amazon’s Buy Box? Why is winning the Buy Box so important for sellers to get more sales? Is there an Amazon Buy Box algorithm to master? How can you learn the formula to win it? What’s the difference between the Buy Box and a Featured Offer?

In this Buy Box 101 post, you’ll get all these answers and more, plus some tips to make winning easier.



What is the Amazon Buy Box?

Winning the Buy Box, also known as “being the Featured Offer,” means you get a section near the top of your product detail page, where customers can click Buy Now or Add to Cart.

Since Amazon allows multiple sellers to offer the same product, sometimes more than one seller will offer an identical product, and they will compete for the Buy Box placement share. The more sellers offer the product, the more competitive it becomes.

Getting this placement makes it faster and easier for customers to buy your product, which generally leads to higher sales per page view.

Amazon wants to give customers the best possible shopping experience, so they require merchants to meet performance-based requirements in order to qualify to be Buy Box Eligible (more on those later).

There is no fee to become eligible, you simply need to perform well as a seller in the key areas Amazon considers most important.


Why is the Buy Box Important for Increasing Sales?

Approximately 17 of every 20 sales on Amazon happens through the Buy Box. That means if you don’t have the Buy Box, you’re losing about 85% of your potential sales.

The main advantage here is how easy the Buy Box makes it for customers to purchase your product. Rather than navigating through different listings and details, they can just add the product to their cart or even buy it immediately, rather than getting impatient and going elsewhere.

This is even more true on the Amazon mobile app. When you’ve won the box and a customer visits your listing on mobile, the page is more simplified than on a desktop. The Add To Cart button is right there in plain view, and there aren’t any other competitors like the More Buying Options section visible on so many product pages.

How to Win the Buy Box: Understanding How Amazon Algorithms Decide the Winner

Beating the Buy Box algorithm means you’re consistently meeting all the metrics Amazon uses to measure each seller’s eligibility. Everything from product quality and shipping to price and customer engagement will make a difference in whether you win or not.

Before Amazon considers you though, you’ll need to register for the Pro Merchant plan (more on this in our Ultimate Guide to Increasing Sales on Amazon) . Once you have this set up and are meeting the initial requirements, you become Buy Box-eligible (formally known as being a Featured Merchant).

This doesn’t mean you win though! From here, the Buy Box algorithm compares you and other sellers across a wide range of factors.

Remember that in order to even be considered for the Buy Box, your product must be in New condition. Used or Refurbished items don’t qualify, but there is a separate Buy Box for these items.

What major factors make a listing Amazon Buy Box-Eligible? In order of importance:

  • Current Fulfillment Method: Are you fulfilling orders using FBA or Seller-Fulfilled Prime? You need to use one of them to be eligible for the Buy Box, however using FBA is a much safer bet. This is because Amazon FBA takes care of everything related to shipping, and their logistics are probably much better than yours, so it’s a safe bet that you’ll have perfect metrics by Amazon’s standards when using them.
  • Low Competition: more important than any other factor below is what your competition looks like. If you’re selling a product identical to a bunch of others on Amazon, winning the Buy Box is harder. If you sell a unique product or start a private label however (when you’re the only one selling your specific product), you can win almost automatically. This has the added benefit that you don’t need to compete on price.
  • Current Pricing: your total price (including shipping cost) is a huge influence in your odds. This is also called the Landing Price. The lowest price will often (but not always!) be the deciding factor in who wins the box. If you outperform your competitors on the metrics below however, you can set a higher price and still win.
  • Current Shipping Time: if you’re using FBA, you can ignore this. If not, keep your shipping time under 2 days for the best chance at winning. If you can’t manage that, 14 days is the maximum before you’re no longer eligible. Your Late Shipment Rate should also be less than 4% over the past 30 days.

What else can make you more competitive for the Buy Box? These next metrics aren’t weighted quite as heavily, but the algorithms still take them into account:

Lifetime Seller Rating: your performance across all your sales for all products. This includes customer reviews, order cancellations and chargebacks, plus A-to-Z Guarantee claims, and of course shipping times. Similarly, your Order Defect Rate should be as low as possible, and always less than 1% over the past 60 days (failure here can result in account deactivation).
  • Prompt Customer Engagement: if a customer reaches out to you, respond quickly (ideally under 12 hours) for a better chance of winning.
  • Inventory Locations: with distribution centers around the country, inventory stored closer to your buyers will be cheaper and faster to ship, and more likely to get picked by Amazon. This means if your inventory is stored in many locations, you have an advantage. For FBA sellers, Amazon decides which fulfillment centers the product will go to, so all you need to do is send your shipments to the centers they tell you to based on your shipping plan. With their Inventory Placement Service, you can deliver to just one Receive Center and they’ll distribute it to other centers for you.
  • Inventory and Pre-Fulfillment Cancel Rate: The percent of orders cancelled by the seller, such as due to stock reasons, must be less than 2.5% in the past 30 days. Keeping a well-stocked inventory helps your score, though a low inventory level doesn't hurt your score as much as it used to. That said, you do need to have the item in stock!

Increase Your Odds of Winning as a Reseller

As mentioned above, if you want to win that Add To Cart button and get all the benefits that come with it, you should do more than just improve your metrics. You can improve your odds (and your overall selling experience) by minimizing competition. Your choice of product matters a lot here, because it determines how much you’ll be forced to compete.

While selling your own branded products is a fantastic way to win the Buy Box, get great profit margins, and avoid competition, some sellers don’t have the funds or motivation to go this route.

For resellers, the alternative is to get exclusive reselling relationships. This basically means you offer extra services to brands if they give you exclusive rights to sell on Amazon.

Many brands only allow a limited number of resellers. When they don’t, it’s much more difficult to stand out against other sellers. Exclusive selling relationships allow you to avoid the fierce competition that comes with being one of many virtually identical merchants.

The difficult part here is finding ways to offer more to the brand. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Still, by making the effort, you can find better products to sell and improve your own return on marketing costs.

Some examples of what to offer a brand include: helping them get more reviews and rank higher, run PPC ads, and protect their MAP (Minimum Advertised Price). The more value you can offer them, the more likely they will let you sell their product.

Whether you choose to go private label or form an exclusive reseller partnership, you’ll want to do your research to find products with a balance of high demand and low competition. This is why product research tools have become essential for any successful Amazon seller.

The Buy Box is Not Winner-Take-All

While we’ve been calling it “winning” the Buy Box, it’s more accurate to say “winning a higher percentage of the Buy Box distribution.”

In other words, it’s not an all-or-nothing victory: Amazon gives each top candidate the Buy Box for a different percentage of total product page visits (or “sessions”) by a given shopper.

If you have a 20% Buy Box share, you’ll get the Buy Box 20% of the time. Your assorted competitors will get it for a collective total of 80% of the time.

This means the seller whose listing is the most qualified will get the Buy Box on their page more often than other sellers competing for that product sale – but not 100% of the time. You’ll win the Buy Box most often if you’re performing the best, but other sellers can always take shares of it.

In theory, if you and all the other sellers for your product had the same metrics for everything, you would all get the Buy Box an equal percentage of the time. But if one of you then dropped your price a little, that seller would win it more often.

How to Check if You Are Buy Box-Eligible

To see if you are Buy Box-eligible, you’ll need to click the Inventory tab in your Seller Central account, and click Manage Inventory. Under Preferences, there is a Column Display section with an field for Buy Box-Eligible*. Open the drop-down and select “Show When Available.”

Now you can see your eligibility with a simple Yes or No in the Buy Box Eligible column when looking at any of your SKUs. Simple!

*With recent updates, you may see variations of this with the term Featured Offer. To check whether you currently are the Featured Offer (Buy Box winner), Amazon recommends viewing the Product Detail page for your ASIN and checking for the Add to Cart button (or Add to Basket in the EU).

What Happens if You Don’t Win the Buy Box?

If you don’t win the Buy Box (or if you’ve had the Buy Box “suppressed” or removed from your product page), you might instead show up in sections such as “More Buying Choices” or “See All Buying Options,” as well as “Other Sellers on Amazon.” These sections will be in the same area as where the Buy Box would be, or below it.

You should still do your best to stay competitive and hopefully show up in these sections, because they will get you more sales than nothing. Plus, there’s no extra work required: you will automatically be considered for placement there if you don’t win the box (as long as you’re Buy Box Eligible).

Remember though, sellers in these sections only earn a fraction of the sales that Buy Box sellers do, so consider how you might improve your strategy to win.

buybox buying options.jpg

Does Amazon Share the Buy Box?

What happens if Amazon is competing with you for the Buy Box? They can mostly do whatever they want on their own platform, so should you even bother competing? It won’t be easy, but they’ll still let you win it some of the time if you nail all those metrics.

Additionally, the fiercer the competition on Amazon, the more price becomes a factor in who wins the Buy Box. So if it comes down to it, you may be forced to lower your product price in order to win.

In Summary

Amazon’s Buy Box is a great way to win more Amazon sales, because it makes it much easier and quicker for customers to buy your product when they see your listing. It’s also known as the Featured Offer box.

To be eligible to win the Buy Box, you need to have a Pro Merchant account, fast shipping, and competitive pricing. Your odds of winning are much higher if you go through FBA, as opposed to fulfilling orders yourself (FBM).

If you want to avoid the fierce competition over the Buy Box share, consider launching a private label product. When you own your own brand, you not only win the Buy Box with ease, you also qualify for trademark protections, and can set higher prices and avoid a price war.

If you don’t own a brand, remember that the “winner” of the Buy Box isn’t the only seller who gets the feature on their listing: each merchant selling the same product has the chance to seize a percentage (or “share”). The higher your share, the more likely a given shopper is to see the Buy Box on your page.

If you don’t receive the Buy Box, you still have a chance to show up along the sidebar of other listings, in fields such as “Other Buying Options.” While products sold by Amazon will generally win, a great listing can still receive some of the Buy Box share.


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