Amazon Business Value
Losing the Buy Box
Section 1: Why You Are Losing the Buy Box
Winning or Losing the Buy Box
• Before we discuss what it means to win or lose the Buy Box, let’s explain what the Buy Box actually is.
• When a customer clicks through on a product listing, they go through to the product page.
• Now, if a seller has won the Buy Box, there will be an actual Box in the top right side of the Product Page with the buttons “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now”.
• So, if you are the seller who has won the Buy Box, then it is your product shipping from your account to the customer and for which you will be paid when the customer clicks on the “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” button.
• You essentially won the sale by winning that little box.
• If you lose the Buy Box, it simply means that someone else’s product was bought by the customer.
• You essentially lost the sale.
• So, this is why it is quite important that you win that Buy Box, that it is your product that is sold to the customer so that Amazon pays you for the sale.
• When a customer clicks “Add to Cart,” the seller with the best price and performance will usually be the one to have their product added to the customer’s cart.
• The “Buy Now” button below the “Add to Cart” button is the most direct path to a purchase on Amazon, requiring the fewest clicks on the part of customers to make a sale.
• Some products do not have this Buy Box at all on the page.
• When no one is winning the Buy Box, Amazon removes the “Add to Cart” button from your listing and displays the “See All Buying Options” button instead.
• Another thing to add, which is a huge downer, is that listings without a Buy Box do not get shown in Sponsored Products ads.
• So, in addition to a lower conversion rate you also get less traffic to your listing if the Buy Box is missing.
• Obviously, as so many eCommerce stores have that “Add to Cart” button by the product, it seems very odd to customers when that button doesn’t appear on a product page on Amazon.
• They may find it too much trouble to go through the options or consider the product a little unimportant and therefore look for a similar product that does have that little “Add to Cart” button on the product page.
• But why does this happen?
• Why do you end up losing the Buy Box?
• Well, that’s what we’re here to discover.
• In the coming videos we will look at the main culprits for a lost Buy Box, these being:
* Fulfillment Options on Seller and Vendor Central Account;
* Prime Eligibilities;
* Sales Volumes and Seller Ratings;
* Listing Issues; and finally
* Pricing Issues.
Seller Central and Vendor Central Accounts
• In the first 30 days of becoming a Seller on Amazon through Seller Central, Amazon obviously needs this as a testing period to verify your ability to actually ship your product to customers.
• So, in this period, you’ll probably experience a missing Buy Box on your product page.
• Now, two things to note here when it comes to Seller Central:
* If you opt to sell via Fulfilment by Amazon or FBA, then you will most likely win the Buy Box more often than not because Amazon has your actual product in their warehouse and they’ve become quite exceptional with the whole logistics thing and getting products to customers in the blink of an eye;
* If you opt to sell via Fulfilment by Merchant or FBM, you don’t stand as high a chance of winning the Buy Box unless you opt for Seller Fulfilled Prime. In the Seller Fulfilled Prime Course, we explain how you have to jump through a number of hoops and then maintain that jumping by means of the Performance Metrics. This set of Metrics essentially proves to Amazon that you can ship your product super quickly and super efficiently and have next to zero cancellations. Amazon has faith that you can supply the product almost as well as they can if it was in their warehouse so they give you the Buy Box.
• It goes without saying that Amazon obviously directs more traffic to Prime-eligible products.
• They ship so quickly and most customers want that same-day or next-day delivery.
• If your product is not Prime eligible and you are the only one offering the item, you may not get enough traffic to your product page to create enough order experience data that shows you can meet Amazon’s performance requirements.
• As a result, your listing doesn’t “evolve” to have the Buy Box at all!
• It’s not always a given that Prime products will win the Buy Box but they certainly do win it most of the time.
• Now, when it comes to selling as a Vendor through Vendor Central, it really does go without saying that your product has an excellent chance ofwinning the Buy Box because, well, they’re no longer YOUR products when they reach an Amazon Fulfillment Center – they’re Amazon’s and no one wins against Amazon.
• Amazon can offer your products as Prime products and are definitely eager to make the sale so they can turn some profit.
• If need be, Amazon will cut the sales price on these products just so they win the Buy Box and make the sale.
Sales Volumes and Seller Ratings
• We bet you didn’t realise that sales volume plays a part in whether you lose the Buy Box or not.
• Sad to say, but it is true.
• You could have the lowest pricing on and off of Amazon for your product, the product is Prime Eligible and the listing has never looked more complete or devastatingly fantastic!
• But, you’ve only sold like a dozen of this product in the last year.
• Amazon doesn’t rate that at all and it falls terribly short of whatever threshold they have for your product in order to even be eligible for the Buy Box.
• And while we’re discussing sales at all, we might as well mention that your Seller Rating also plays a significant part in whether you win or lose the Buy Box.
• When you, as the seller on a product listing has performance issues and your trailing 30-day seller ratings drops below 90% (or similar), you will often lose your Buy Box eligibility.
• If you have the only offer on the listing (such as a brand selling its own product), then your product listing will also lose its Buy Box.
• So, always ensure that all of your recent seller ratings are legitimate seller ratings and not product-related ratings or FBA-related issues.
• If the issues are not related to your shipping or customer service (such as negative customer feedback on the actual product or FBA’s shipping performance), file a Seller Support ticket to challenge the feedback.
• Potentially, it will be struck from your account, and hence from your trailing 30-day seller ratings average.
• Removal of bad seller ratings can help drive up your average seller rating and move you back into Buy Box eligibility.
• If you’re the brand itself and all of the sellers on one of your Amazon product listings are not eligible due to their seller rating / performance issues, it’s likely time to find some more highly-performing sellers to represent your products on Amazon.
• Reviewing your sellers on Amazon periodically is a good idea, so don’t be shy to set your sellers straight with better listings, better marketing tools, better everything really for their listings so their ratings help keep the Buy Box on the product page.
• Based on our research and our understanding, when two or more sellers are selling at the same price, better sales volume and better seller rating stand a better chance of getting the Buy Box or, if the sellers’ ratings and sales volumes are practically equivalent, the sellers will end up sharing the Buy Box throughout the day; for example, one seller gets the Buy Box for four hours and the next seller gets the next four hours, etc.
• Be sure to check out our Course on Product Reviews, Seller Feedback and Customer Questions for more information on Seller Ratings.
• Listing Issues. Well, let’s see what can cause Amazon to withdraw your product specifically from the Buy Box eligibility:
* Suppressed Listings;
* Incomplete Listings;
* Non-Compliant Listings;
* Listing Errors; and
* Product Authenticity.
• A Suppressed Listing is a Product Listing that Amazon has suppressed for any of a number of reasons.
• Amazon will hide (or suppress) from search and browse non-media listings that do not meet certain standards or are incomplete, that is, they have information missing in any of the required fields for a listing.
• This means that a customer will not be able to find your listing in a search if your listing is suppressed.
• Images that do not meet the Product image requirements will be suppressed.
• Amazon will suppress a listing from search and browse until you provide complete and valid product information for that listing.
• Amazon will also suppress listings without an EAN or UPC for certain categories. These requirements also apply to listings with variations.
• For example, if a listing has different sizes, its parent SKU and child SKUs for each size must meet all requirements and have completed all required fields for that category.
• Needless to say, no product appearing on Amazon, no winning the Buy Box.
• An Incomplete Listing is one that needs to be “Fixed”.
• It is missing information for whatever fields are required for that product, such as EAN, UPC, Product Title, Product Features and Benefits, Product Description, weights, dimensions, images, etc.
• Usually, these listings are treated the same way as Suppressed Listings: they are removed from Amazon’s page and again, no product on Amazon, no winning the Buy Box.
• A Non-Compliant Listing means that there is some documentation or certification that Amazon needs from you in order to make your product valid to sell on Amazon itself.
• These are usually testing certifications for batteries included in your product, or mechanical certifications or HAZMAT documents, etc.
• Again, Amazon will take your product listing down off of their site until you have sent them the documents they require in order to sell you product in the marketplaces you have chosen to sell your product in.
• Listing Errors can be anything from the wrong brand name in your product title, incomplete information, the wrong image used for the main image, wrong product descriptions, etc.
• Find out what the problem is from Amazon is you can’t see it on your Seller or Vendor Central Accounts and fix it pronto!
• Amazon will keep your product hidden from searches until you have fixed the errors.
• To learn how to fix any of the above listing issues, check out our Vendor Central Catalog Management Course or Master Managing a Seller Central Catalog Course.
• And finally, Product Authenticity.
• Amazon will sometimes suppress the Buy Box instead of removing the product listing from their website while they review authenticity complaints received from customers, such as complaints about falsely labelled denim jeans, as an example.
• Amazon will want to check out that there isn’t a problem with the available inventory of this product from all sellers if there is a sudden overflow of complaints.
• This may slow down sales of the item during this inspection period.
• If you are selling authentic product on Amazon, there really isn’t much you can do beyond reaching out to the customer and to Amazon.
• The complaints may be coming from sales by a competing seller offering the same listing.
• You may very well get caught up in a situation similar to this that you had nothing to do with.
• Oh, one more thing that could potentially make you lose the Buy Box: Amazon doesn’t have that product in their Fulfillment Center.
• On top-selling items that Amazon has been selling recently of stock they have purchased from Vendors through Vendor Central – remember, when Amazon buys products from Vendors, they then own the products and obviously want to beat everyone else by getting the sale – we have seen situations where Amazon will remove the Buy Box for all sellers until they have the product back in stock in their warehouses. Crazy, right?
• However, unlike the usual situation where Amazon itself may be temporarily out of stock, in this situation the brand itself has usually told Amazon that it no longer wants to wholesale the product to them.
• In response, Amazon basically retaliates and removes the Buy Box altogether.
• So, if you’re the brand selling your product to Amazon and you’re about to discontinue selling something to Amazon, rather don’t tell them that.
• It’s probably better for everyone to list the item in Vendor Central as “temporarily out of stock.”
• Sadly, if you’re a third-party seller selling the same product on Amazon, there’s not much you can do.
• You just end up being collateral damage in the feud between Amazon and the brand.
• Now, pricing issues that can cause you to lose the Buy Box boils down to three things:
* Competitive Pricing ON Amazon; and
* Competitive Pricing OFF Amazon.
• Naturally, a promotional price offer will kick you out of the Buy Box, because that price is less than what you are currently selling the product for.
• It is important to note here that, when we talk about Promotions, we are not talking about Coupons.
• We’re essentially talking about lightning deals, best deals, deal of the day, warehouse deals, prime exclusive discounts, etc. – basically anything where a promotion is due to a percentage discount on a product.
• Bide your time until the promotion has run its course and you should be right back in the saddle and winning that Buy Box – provided none of the aforementioned or next mentioned issues aren’t contributing to you falling out of the saddle and losing the Buy Box.
• Another thing that can and has happened is if your product was priced lower for a temporary sale or promotion and then goes back to its normal price, Amazon’s automated algorithm may look at that pricing history and mistakenly determine that the current price is uncompetitive.
• This is likely to occur if you’re the only seller (e.g. the brand seller) for an item.
• If you run a sale on your item for a little while, then set it back to the original price, the sale price sets a precedent that causes you to lose the Buy Box.
• If you run a promotion, use Amazon’s built-in promotion options to allow customers to redeem a coupon (which can be displayed on the product listing page for instant redemption) rather than manually lowering the price on the product itself.
• Then there’s competitive pricing on Amazon.
• This makes sense, right?
• If there are three other sellers on Amazon and one of them is selling your product for less than you and the other seller, that seller with the lower price is going to win the Buy Box.
• You can fix this by selecting “Match Low Price” on your Catalog listing in Seller Central, or amending your Price (or MSRP) on you listing on Vendor Central.
• For more information on how to amend pricing for your products, check out our Vendor Central Catalog Management Course or Master Managing a Seller Central Catalog Course.
• And then of course there is now competitive pricing OFF of Amazon.
• Yup, it’s not enough for you to be selling your product at the cheapest on Amazon, you have to be beating everyone else selling your product on any other little eCommerce Store – no matter how small.
• It could literally be a garage-business but it will cause you to lose the Buy Box.
• In fact, that little business selling your product at a ridiculously low rate on some little know online store could actually cause the entire Buy Box to be removed from the product listing altogether on Amazon because NONE of the sellers on Amazon can afford to sell the product at that price.
• But how on earth are you supposed to know whether the reason you are losing the Buy Box is due to some random seller selling your product at some cheaper price on some small little online store?
• Let us help you.
• From the “Manage Inventory” Tab on the Top Menu of Seller Central, select “Brand Health”.
• Or you can select “Brand Dashboard” from the “Performance” Tab Drop -Down Menu on the Top Menu of Seller Central and then click the “Brand Health” tab.
• Here you will see what lowest price your product is selling for is causing the drama on Amazon’s Buy Box.
• Search for the product SKU or UPC on Google and locate that online store with that same lowest price.
• No one gets the buy box if everyone is selling at the same higher price on Amazon but doesn’t match the price on that other little online store – or, often times – that enormous conglomerate other than Amazon.
• Best practice here if you are the actual supplier or manufacturer or brand, is to reach out to this retailer and ask them nicely to up the price of the product to at least match that of Amazon’s or your MSRP or, just stop supplying them if they refuse.
• Alternately, if you don’t run at a loss, you can always amend your product’s price to the lowest price indicated off of Amazon.
Tips for Maintaining the Buy Box
• Right, so now we have been through everything that can cause us to lose the Buy Box.
• But what can we do to win it and maintain it?
• Here are a few things:
* Sign up for FBA or Seller-Fulfilled Prime to make sure your products are Prime eligible if you are selling through Seller Central;
* Maintain perfect Shipping Performance if selling FBM on Seller Central;
* Maintain price parity between Amazon and your other vendors, and/or make Amazon the lowest price;
* Review your seller performance and take steps to improve it, including checking seller feedback, answering customer questions and regularly checking customer reviews;
* Review your listings regularly for any mistakes or errors, missing information, incomplete or badly created or outdated content, product compliance, product authenticity and conditions; and
* Don’t supply too many retailers in order to avoid too many sellers on Amazon.