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Can I Run PPC Campaigns Without Buy Box?

Struggling to launch your PPC campaigns? You may not have the Buy Box. Confused? Read more for help!

David Zaleski

October 12, 2021

In 2021, it is next to impossible to succeed on Amazon without using paid ads in the form of Amazon PPC (sponsored products). This can be tricky for new sellers, who are already dealing with the stress of acquiring the Buy Box and gaining positive reviews on their sales. It’s a massive marketplace, and it’s hard to stand out.

Unfortunately, you cannot run an Amazon PPC ads campaign without the Buy Box. In order to run active Sponsored Product ads, you do need to have “won” the buy box for your listing. Confused? Let’s unpack some details to help you understand.


What is The Buy Box?

The Buy Box is the white box to the side of a listing that features the Amazon seller who has won the Buy Box with the “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons. 

Screenshot of an Amazon listing of a Nintendo Switch Joy Con Charger, featuring the seller who "won " the Buy Box.

For this seller, winning the Buy Box was easy - there are no other sellers on the listing offering this item. This doesn’t immediately make their product Buy Box qualified, but it does make it a lot simpler for them to “win” the spot.

However, if even one other seller is offering your item, you have to compete for the Buy Box. This is why you can’t run a PPC campaign, automatic and manual campaigns on a listing if you don’t have the Buy Box - if you sponsor a product, but another seller has won the box, they would be the seller who would profit off the sale. It’s critical to be the primary seller in the Buy Box if you want to run a campaign.

How Do You Get The Buy Box?

Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly how Amazon decides who gets the Buy Box. There's no buy box price listed. It seems that this can vary from day to day and it’s unclear exactly what goes into their decision.

We do know a few elements that are necessary to win the buy box, however. Many believe there to be a time period you have to wait before becoming eligible, however, currently, all you have to do is meet account requirements for your listing. 

  • Professional account. Only Amazon sellers with a professional seller central account are eligible for the Buy Box. If you are using a personal seller account, you will not be eligible.
  • Fulfilled by Amazon. If you are still managing and shipping your own inventory, you won’t get the Buy Box. You need to be fulfilling your orders through Amazon so that shoppers can get free 2-day shipping. Without using FBA, the Buy Box isn’t possible for you.
  • Healthy reviews. Your store needs a good ratio of positive to negative reviews. Amazon will not award the Buy Box to sellers whose reputation isn’t good.
  • Good value. Essentially, Amazon awards the Buy Box to whatever seller is offering the best value. Most of the time, this will come down to price. Since the Buy Box is only competitive for the same item, it makes sense that Amazon would award this box to the lowest bidder. However, if your store has horrible reviews but a low price - you may still lose the box because your value will be assumed to be lower as well.
  • Steady inventory. In order to win the Buy Box, you must maintain a steady inventory of your product. If you run out of stock or your inventory is unreliable, the box will be awarded to another seller.
  • Consistency. Amazon does not like to see constantly fluxed prices. If your listing is $14 one day and $40 the next, you’ll likely not win the Buy Box. You should change your prices to account for competitors, but not so dramatically or constantly that Amazon reprimands you for it.
  • New items. Only new items are eligible for the Buy Box. You can’t win by selling used or refurbished items.

Strategies You Should Follow

There are some things you should be putting into practice to make it more likely for you to win the Buy Box, and therefore be eligible to run and create Amazon PPC ads campaign.

  • Create your own brand and labels. One of the reasons why it’s so important to create your own brand and custom label everything is that it makes it much harder for anyone else to jump onto your listings. Don’t just sell an unlabeled, unbranded product. These are easy to duplicate, and a dedicated hijacker can spend all day repricing their item to win the box. Just label and brand your item so it’s “yours” (even if it came from China). The Amazon Brand Registry is a program that helps manufacturers and brand owners keep control over their brands within Amazon.
  • Trademark if you can. Even with custom labelling, hijackers can still try to duplicate your listing and steal the Buy Box from you. If you’re trademarked, you have more legal protection to keep this from happening.
  • Always use FBA. Don’t ever resort to shipping out your own products. It’s 2021 - you need to be using FBA. FBM (fulfillment by merchant) is not a great strategy in general, and it will make you ineligible for the Buy Box.
  • Use a professional repricing service. To keep your pricing up to date, consider using a third-party re-pricer to ensure that you are competing with other sellers.
  • Work on your customer service. Part of a healthy account is a healthy relationship with your customers. Ensure that you have a plan in place for fast and satisfactory customer service.
  • Answer customer questions. Visit your product detail page and be sure to address as many customer questions as you can. This also helps your account health.
  • Maintain your inventory. Never let your inventory dip to unsafe levels. Always be sure you have a month’s supply on hand. Be prepared in advance for the holiday season to avoid surprise stocking issues.

 

Conclusion

Winning the Buy Box is critical to your Amazon FBA store health. You need it if you want to start seeing your profits rise and you definitely need it to start using Amazon PPC and start earning that ad revenue. The key to acquiring it is to make sure your account is eligible, offer competitive pricing, and keep your customer/seller relationship healthy. Not sure how to get started? Schedule a call with our team to see how we can help you reach your Amazon FBA goals.

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David Zaleski

David Zaleski is an entrepreneur, Amazon seller, and the founder of EcomHub. He's been operating in the eCommerce space since the age of 14 years old. At the age of 18, he started his own Amazon business with just $4,800 in start-up capital.

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