How to Master and Win the Amazon Buy Box
How does pricing affect your odds of winning the Buy Box? Here's our tips on how to leverage your pricing to win and maintain the Buy Box.
October 17, 2021
Does Product Price Matter for Winning or Losing Buy Box?
Amazon sellers all over the world are frequently frustrated over the mysterious Amazon buy box algorithm that determines who wins the “Buy Box” for a given item or even Amazon's buy box eligibility. It seems that, while we know some of the concepts that determine the Buy Box winner, there are a lot of things Amazon has kept to itself.
What we do know:
- Only sellers who are offering new products can win the Buy Box.
- There is only a competition for the Buy Box for products that are sold by multiple sellers (no handmade items).
- Winning the Buy Box is less about price and more about value.
- You need a healthy professional seller account (healthy inventory, great customer service, good reviews, etc.) in order to win the Buy Box.
- Amazon can penalize sellers who price their items too high by “suppressing” the Buy Box.
With all this in mind, it’s evident that price plays a role in winning, maintaining, or losing the Buy Box. But it isn’t everything.
Value Over Price
The Buy Box is all about value. Amazon’s buy box algorithm now compares your pricing not only with other Amazon posts of the same ASIN but also with other related listings and prices found elsewhere online. They want to ensure that when customers come to Amazon, they get rewarded with the best purchase out there. So you need to offer the best value you can.
Offering the best value does not always mean offering the lowest price. If you are selling equipment that can be found on eBay for less, you are still providing the best value when the convenience of Amazon is taken into account. But if your price is 50% higher than all other similar items, you’re not providing Amazon’s customers with a good value purchase, and they won’t reward you for that.
Similarly, value takes into consideration convenience. For FBA sellers, any product that is using FBA will automatically gain preference for the Buy Box - even if it costs slightly more. Customers are willing to pay $7 extra for a product with free shipping rather than get a cheaper item with $7 shipping. Why? Because they determine that the product they are getting is of higher value - and they are getting it delivered faster and more securely using something they already pay for.
Notice in the listing below, the seller who has won the Buy Box is selling at a price of $24.99 with free Prime One-Day shipping time. There are two other sellers offering new products for less money, but who don’t have the official Prime Checkmark. One has free shipping from Amazon - but it will take over 20 days to arrive (it’s currently October 31st as I’m writing this). The other is shipped by the merchant and there’s a delayed free shipping option. Both of these don’t provide the same value to the customer in the entire shopping process, so they were not chosen for the Buy Box.
Value also includes seller reliability. If your account has a history of unhappy customers, negative reviews, or consistently running out of stock, you are not proving yourself to be a reliable customer and Amazon will prioritize another seller - even if their price is higher than yours.
Amazon is looking at listings and asking “which seller here provides the best value purchase for our customers.” You want them to answer you every time.
Consistency is Key
When it comes to pricing, Amazon prioritizes good deals - but they also value consistency. If every week your product costs a different amount of money, they will likely make the seller Buy Box eligible who is showing more stability in their pricing. Lowering your price to account for market changes and to compete with other sellers is important, but you shouldn’t overdo it.
This is especially important when raising prices. Amazon sees a huge red flag when your product jumps 50% in price from one week to the next. Even if you’re the only seller providing that item, you may be suppressed from owning the Buy Box if you do this.
Using a repricing tool to help you compete with other sellers is a great way to manage the balance of changing the price to stay competitive and not changing everything too quickly (these third parties have a great understanding of how to do this).
The best way to ensure that your price changes don’t hugely affect your Buy Box chances in a negative way is to properly set the “item price” and “sale price” for your listing. Your item price should be the highest number you could ever think of viably selling your item for (considering the marketplace), while the sale price should be the price you are currently offering for your item.
You want to think preemptively about what to set your item price as - and leave this the same. If you need to constantly change this number (rather than your sale price), Amazon will dock points from you as a seller for either price gauging, or for having a product of less value than others.
However, adjusting your “sale price” from the Amazon seller central account will not so dramatically affect your Buy Box odds because Amazon will not see that your product is changing in value/price, rather that you are offering sales of various values throughout the year. This is why the “item price” should always be significantly higher than the sale price - so that you never need to go above it.
More Pricing Tips
If you are selling low-ticket items, you want to be careful that you don’t price your items so low that they become add-on items. Add-on items are those of $5 or less value. These can only be bought as “add on” along with larger orders. Add-on items don’t get purchased as frequently as stand-alone items because they aren’t as convenient, and they won’t win the Buy Box if all other listings are able to be sold individually.
As you’re pricing, follow the traditional pricing strategies that have worked for decades. Don’t just list your item as $20, list it as selling for $19.99. Even though we all want to be smarter than this - the reality is we’re all just eager to save even that 1 cent. So let your customers trick themselves into thinking they're saving money and round down the price by a cent or two.
Price does matter when it comes to winning or losing the Buy Box - but it isn’t the only thing that matters. You want to price your product competitively with other listings of the same product or of similar products, but you also want to consider things like account health, shipping, convenience, and customer experience. You can use repricing tools to help you manage your listing’s pricing, and you can strategically adjust the “Sale price” while leaving the “item price” and a real high point for your item. These will all help you to win and maintain the Buy Box!
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.See more posts from this author