Amazon Buy Box: What Is It & How Does It Work? The Complete Guide

what is the amazon buy box

Most new sellers on Amazon will quickly become familiar with the Amazon Buy Box.

But what exactly is the Buy Box? How does it work? Why is it so important? And, most importantly of all, what can you do to consistently win the Buy Box?

In this comprehensive guide we take a close look at the Buy Box, providing you with all the information you need to know to get the most out of it and grow your Amazon business faster.

TL;DR

  • The Amazon Buy Box is a box at the side of each listing displaying the “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” buttons.
  • It’s where the vast majority of all Amazon sales are made.
  • It uses the Amazon Buy Box algorithm to determine which seller should hold the Buy Box at any one time.
  • There are several steps you can take to win the Buy Box and make more sales.
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What Is the Buy Box?

First things first: what exactly is the Buy Box?

Start by heading to the Amazon website and searching for something. Visit one of the listings you find in the search results, and you’ll see the product images on the left with key product features in the middle and the Buy Box on the right side of the page.

the buy box on amazon

The box contains information about the price, when the item will be delivered, and the quantity you’re ordering.

It also contains two buttons:

  • “Add to Cart” or “Add to Basket”
  • “Buy Now”

In many cases, several Amazon sellers are all selling the same product. When you click the “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” button, you’re buying the product from one specific seller, even though there may be multiple sellers.

This is because that seller is the current Buy Box winner.

Visit the listing the following day, or even later that same day, and you may see the same Buy Box. But when you click “Buy Now,” you might be buying from a different seller who has now taken the Buy Box position.

As a shopper, you have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes.

But as a seller, you certainly do, because you’re doing everything you can to be the holder of the Buy Box and get more sales.

Amazon wants the process for shoppers to be as quick and easy as possible. It’s useful for shoppers to have a button clearly displayed because it means they do not have to make any effort to make a purchase.

There may not be competing sellers, and there may be only one seller of that specific product, as is often the case with private-label products. But the Buy Box still plays a role.

It may not always appear. For example, if the seller does not meet the minimum requirements, they won’t have a Buy Box (more on this later).

As a seller, you need to know about this box and attempt to win it. Because if you fail to win it consistently, you’re unlikely to get many sales for that product, hurting your efforts to build a successful business on Amazon.

How the Buy Box Works

So, we know that the Buy Box is now. But how exactly does it work? It all comes down to the algorithm.

Our lives are affected by algorithms all the time, from Google’s search algorithm, which decides which websites to show in the search results, to social media algorithms, which decide which posts to display in our feeds.

Amazon is no different.

Amazon has two main algorithms. The first is its search algorithm, and the current version is called the A10 algorithm. (The previous version was called the A9 algorithm.)

This determines which products show up in Amazon’s own search results. When a shopper visits the website and searches for dog toys, for example, the A10 algorithm determines which product listing to display first.

The Buy Box algorithm is different.

This algorithm determines which seller will hold the Buy Box at any one time, and it has a formula to decide this. And before you ask, no one knows what exactly this contains.

However, we do have a good idea. We’ll look at this in more detail later on when we discuss how to win the Buy Box consistently.

The algorithm takes a lot of factors into consideration. For now, you just need to understand that there’s an algorithm at work all the time, and it’s being updated regularly.

One very important thing to remember is that you don’t usually get a seller who wins the Buy Box and then stays holding it all the time. It’s a constant competition.

Just because one seller wins the Buy Box and starts to watch the sales roll in, they can’t then sit back and call it a day. In a very short space of time, another seller could win that highly coveted position.

As a seller, your job is to win it as much as possible. But to do that, you must first be Buy Box eligible.

Buy Box Eligibility

To win the Buy Box, you have to first be eligible. Don’t assume that because you’re the only seller of a product, you’ll automatically win the Buy Box.

There are a few factors to know about eligibility:

  • First, you should have a Professional Seller account. Without this, you won’t win the box. That means you must subscribe to the Professional Seller service. This also comes with extra features like the ability to customize shipping rates.
  • You can’t win the Buy Box for a used product because they aren’t eligible. They have their own version, and you’ll only compete against other new products.
  • You’ll also need good performance metrics like order defect rate (ODR) and cancellation rate. You should provide customers with a great experience to improve these metrics, otherwise you may find that you’re not eligible.
  • You must have the product in stock. Zero stock means you’re not eligible and someone else will win it, even if they have worse metrics than you in other areas. That means good inventory management is essential if you want to win the Buy Box regularly (more on this later).

You can check whether you’re eligible for a listing in Amazon Seller Central, where you can find a list of your listings and which you’re eligible for.

It’s worth checking—if you’re trying to win the Buy Box but aren’t actually eligible, you can do something about it and avoid wasting time.

Why Winning the Buy Box Is So Important

why winning the
buy box essential

Now you know what the Buy Box is, how it works, and how to be eligible. But there’s one important question to ask:

Why is winning it so important?

The simple answer is that you’ll make more sales when you hold the Buy Box.

Remember, a huge majority of sales, with some suggesting up to 85%, are made in the Buy Box. That’s a piece of the pie you don’t want to be missing out on.

If you consistently fail to win the Buy Box, you’re missing out on all of those sales, and that will hurt the growth of your Amazon business and cause you to lose ground to your competitors.

Remember, Amazon wants to make the shopping experience as simple and straightforward as possible for its customers. And it’s very good at doing this.

The Buy Box is for the customers. It makes the process of buying the item easy because shoppers don’t want to have to compare lots of different sellers, check all their stats, and then choose the one that they prefer.

They want to buy, and the Buy Box takes all the hard work out of the process.

Related: Why Winning the Amazon Buy Box is Essential in 2024

Buy Box Suppression

There are some situations when there’s no Buy Box at all. In the case where none of the sellers are eligible for that listing, the Buy Box is suppressed.

This means that no Buy Box shows up because Amazon has decided that it can’t give any of the sellers this special position.

In this situation, the shopper must decide which of the sellers they want to choose.

There will be an option to compare offers in this case. The shopper clicks on this, and they’ll be presented with a list of sellers.

The cheapest seller is at the top, and this is a good reason to provide a competitive price. Even if the Buy Box is suppressed, you’ll still be at the top of the list if you offer the cheapest product compared to your competitors.

But you don’t want to be in this situation. You don’t want to be struggling to make any sales because you’re not appearing in the Buy Box. You should be making it easy on yourself.

How to Win the Buy Box

You should now have a pretty good idea about why it’s so important to win the Buy Box frequently. The question now is how you should go about that.

You’ll never win the Buy Box all the time unless you’re selling a private-label product. And even in this case, you’ll need to ensure you’re eligible for it.

But you should be doing all you can to win it as much as possible. Here are four ways to improve your chances of doing that.

[ Want an in-depth guide on how to win the Buy Box? Download our eBook here. ]

1. Have a Good Repricing Strategy

Repricing is first on the list for a very good reason. Beyond being eligible for the Buy Box, this is the next best thing you can do to win it.

Amazon loves low prices. It wants its customers to visit and find the best prices online as well as enjoy a great experience so they’ll come back again and again.

First of all, you need to price competitively. Don’t price your product above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), because Amazon will not like this.

Keep it low, make it competitive, and make it appealing.

But you also want to price your product to compete against the other sellers. All the sellers might provide the product below the MSRP, but now you want to make it cheaper than their products.

Amazon will often reward this by giving you the Buy Box. However, bear in mind that this isn’t guaranteed, and other factors come into play.

But how do you make sure you’re pricing competitively? By having a repricing strategy.

What Is Repricing?

Repricing is a practice that many sellers on Amazon practice all the time. Prices are changed multiple times a day, and there are millions of price changes going on.

Let’s say your product is priced at $20 and a competitor reprices their product at $19.99. They’re more competitive on pricing, and they may win the Buy Box.

So you reprice yours to make it more competitive.

This is the basic principle, but there’s more to it than simply being the cheapest.

Related: What is Repricing Software and Why Do Amazon Sellers Need It?

Repricing Software

The problem is that keeping track of all of those price changes can be next to impossible, especially if you have lots of competitors or if you sell several products.

Even though changing the price of your listing is a quick and easy process, you can’t keep checking the prices of your competitors’ listings at all hours of the day and reacting accordingly.

This is where automated pricing software like Repricer comes in handy.

repricing software

It does the heavy lifting for you, constantly checking your competitors’ prices and changing the price of your listing automatically while you get on with running your business.

How does it know what to do?

Because you set your own rules. When a price goes down by a certain amount, you set your repricing tool to reduce your price by more.

Worried about going too cheap?

You can set minimum and maximum prices so you’ll never go below or above these. After all, there’s an absolute minimum you can sell for to make any profit.

The great thing about repricing tools is that they can reprice upwards too.

Let’s say your main competitor runs out of stock. Now you can win the Buy Box even with a higher price. Your repricing tool should be able to work this out instantly and reprice accordingly, giving your profits a nice little boost.

There’s loads of other smart stuff you can do, like repricing while you actually have the Buy Box to increase your profit margin.

So you should always have a good repricing strategy in place. By all means try to do it yourself, but you’ll quickly realize that this is one area where automating the process with repricing software makes a lot of sense.

2. Choose FBA

Why does this matter?

As already discussed, Amazon wants to provide its customers with the best experience possible. That means fast shipping times, excellent customer service, and more, beyond just competitive pricing.

It knows that its own FBA system is excellent. If you decide to trust Amazon to stock and ship your products, you know your customers are going to get a great experience.

And Amazon knows this too.

It’s therefore more likely to increase your chances of winning the Buy Box if you use FBA, because it knows that it will provide a great service.

Another thing about FBA is that it makes you eligible for Prime.

Amazon’s Prime customers pay good money for their Prime subscriptions, and Amazon wants to provide them with a great service.

As such, it’s more likely to recommend Prime-eligible products to them in the Buy Box.

Does this mean you have to use FBA? No. You can still win the Buy Box using Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM), but it may be a greater challenge.

But at the end of the day, the challenge will probably be greater. If you’re still fairly new to Amazon, or you’re not certain that you can provide an excellent shipping solution, you may want to avoid competing against other sellers that use FBA.

It’s your decision, and every seller must make this choice. It could take more time and investment to compete, but you may find the FBA route is the way to go.

3. Always Have Inventory

always have inventory

The one surefire way to hurt your Buy Box efforts is to run out of stock.

Amazon is hardly going to give you a hand to win the Buy Box if you can’t fulfill your orders because you have run out of stock. This is where excellent inventory management becomes imperative.

You need to make an effort to ensure your product is constantly in stock. Amazon will monitor your inventory regularly, and if it spots that your inventory is going down and you’re not doing anything about it, this will not help your Buy Box efforts.

The thing is, you might suddenly receive a rush of orders when you win the Buy Box, which is quite normal. But what if you can’t handle the orders? This isn’t only bad for you but bad for customers—and, therefore, Amazon.

It’s far more likely to reward you with the Buy Box if you keep your stock levels high and show that you’re perfectly capable of dealing with a rush of orders.

Good inventory management involves:

  • Keeping good relationships with your suppliers.
  • Making sure you know exactly how long it takes you to restock after putting in an order.
  • Keeping a close track of your stock.
  • Planning for times of the year when you’re likely to make more sales.

Be prepared all the time, and it will help with your Buy Box efforts throughout the year.

You can also use a third-party inventory management tool to keep track of everything and help you to avoid excess inventory.

Amazon also provides inventory management tools for free if you use FBA, and you can find a suite of tools in the Seller Central dashboard.

Related: How to Control Inventory Storage Costs for Amazon FBA Sellers

4. Get Excellent Customer Feedback

get more positive customer feedback

Another thing you’ll want to do if you want to win the Buy Box is get lots of excellent seller feedback.

Amazon considers feedback when it works out your odds of winning the Buy Box, and better feedback is only going to help you.

It will take into account the feedback you receive over specific time periods, from 30 days to 365 days.

It’s unclear exactly how much weight reviews have, but one thing is clear: the more positive reviews you have, the better.

How should you go about getting positive reviews? There are lots of ways.

Firstly, provide a great service by selling a high-quality product, answering questions quickly, resolving disputes, and going above and beyond to make sure your customers have a great experience.

Another factor that influences the Buy Box is response time. Responding to shopper questions quickly will help you in your efforts, and this is all part of providing good customer service.

But sometimes this isn’t enough. Or, at least, it takes time to build the number of reviews you need.

Send Reminders

One thing you can do is send a manual reminder to your customers to leave reviews.

Many customers will be happy with their product, but they won’t think about leaving a review. That’s just how it is.

Unfortunately, people who have a terrible experience are more likely to want to tell everyone about it.

So send your customers a gentle reminder. Amazon has a feature that allows you to send a reminder to each customer.

You can’t bombard customers with review requests or send customized emails, but this simple feature is definitely worth doing.

When you give someone a nudge, they may be more likely to leave a positive review if they’re happy with the product and service.

If you have lots of products or sales, you might want to use review software. These can automate the process, so you don’t have to go into the settings and send a review request individually, saving you time and effort.

Related: How to Get More Reviews on Amazon in 2024

Use Amazon Vine

If you’re just starting out and you’re struggling to get reviews, consider signing up for Amazon Vine.

This service allows you to send up to 30 products to Vine members free of charge in return for an honest review of your product.

You can only sign up if you have less than 30 reviews, and it can be a quick way to get your first reviews to get the ball rolling.

But make sure you provide a great service because the reviewers could just as easily leave negative reviews.

Wrapping Up

The Amazon Buy Box is something that no seller can ignore. If you want to make a success of your Amazon business, you must do all you can to win the Buy Box regularly.

Most sales occur in the Buy Box, so if you want to make sure you’re getting your fair share of the Buy Box, follow the steps outlined above.

Now you should have a good idea about what the Buy Box is, how it works, and how to win it. So set out your strategy for winning the Buy Box and give your Amazon sales a boost.

Want to win the Buy Box and skyrocket your sales through the stratosphere? Sign up for a 14-day free trial of Repricer.com and take your business to the next level.

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Ronan White
Ronan White
SEO and content marketing executive at Repricer. Loves cycling, cinema, a few beers and all things outdoors.
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