First in an occasional series on how the Amazon Buy Box works, and how you can increase your chances of getting it (hint, it’s not all about having the lowest price).
When I started selling on Amazon I kept seeing people refer to a mythical wonderland destination they called the Buy Box.
Everyone seemed to want to be there. So much so that I knew I had to be there too, even though I didn’t know where it was. I imagined it was warm and sunny with very reasonably priced beer. Club Tropicana if you like.
My journey to get their involved travel through a thick fog; reading, Googling, watching Youtube videos on my journey to find out more about this five star destination (more on the five stars later. I’ll do a clever callback to this sentence that will make you raise one eyebrow imperceptibly).
And then I got there. I arrived. I stepped off my metaphorical plane (I’d flown Ryanair so I’d originally landed some way from the Buy Box and had to make my own way there by metaphorical bus) and into the Buy Box, and it was as good as I’d hoped. I made my first sale! Not quite Club Tropicana drinks are free, there’s enough for everyone, but close.
You’ve had enough of the holiday metaphor now haven’t you? I could keep going all day, but I would like to stay with me, so I’ll stop now.
82% of buyers go with the buy box. If we want to sell something we need to be there.
There are various factors that Amazon take into account when their clever algorithim decides who they are going to give the buy box to at any given moment. Their own definition is:
“A seller’s eligibility to win the Buy Box is tied to specific seller performance criteria that identify the sellers who have consistently provided customers with a great buying experience on the Amazon.co.uk site. ”
So straight away Amazon are telling us that it isn’t just about price – again from Amazon:
“The lowest price doesn’t guarantee winning the Buy Box, as pricing is just one factor that is evaluated. ”
Of course price is a factor, and I’ll be covering that in another post, but today I’d like to concentrate on the seller performance side of things.
Everytime a customer places an order for one of your products, you get assigned a Quality Score from Amazon – if it all goes perfectly, you get 100 points. If there are issues, however, you can lose points.
Now fortunately if you are selling using FBA, you are covered for most of the potential issues, such as late shipped or seller cancelled orders. What you would expect to see in Seller Central is this:
There are two areas that you can influence that can impact your seller rating, and that you should not ignore.
The first is ensuring that your respond to any message from a customer within 24 hours. That should be simple enough to do.
The second is to proactively manage your feedback from your customers. Negative feedback on an order will impact your seller rating.
Now again, most things are covered if you are FBA with regards to negative feedback – if a customer complains about the price they paid, the packaging they received, the condition of the product – in theory you should be able to get these removed by Amazon by raising a case in seller central.
But what I like to do is try and anticipate any potential issues and ask customers to tell me if there are any problems before they think about leaving feedback, to give me the opportunity to put them right. And at the same time I can ask them very nicely to leave me positive feedback.
Ever wonder how sellers get stats so good they like to include them in their store name?
I use an automated service that costs me $10 per month to do this for me. I adapted the email wording that they provide slightly, and this is what a customer gets when they order something (I’ve chopped the top and bottom off):
“When you receive your item, please take a moment to verify that it was not damaged in transit. If there is any reason that you wouldn’t rate this as a 5-star experience, please [[contact-link:let us know]] right away and we’ll do what we can to make it right. You can also simply reply to this email. If everything looks fine, we’d appreciate it if you could take a few seconds to click the link below and rate this transaction.
We are a small family run business and your feedback is very important to us.”
And then four days later they get this:
“It was delivered a few days ago, so I hope that you’ve had a chance to open up the package and make sure that everything is in order. Please [[contact-link:let us know]] right away if there is anything wrong so that we have an opportunity to correct it. You can also simply reply to this email.
If everything has gone smoothly, I’d really appreciate it if you could take just a few seconds to leave feedback for Mystorename. As a small family run business it really affects our ability to sell and be successful. One of the things that makes Amazon such a great place to shop is the feedback system and active participation by buyers like you.”
So you can see that we’re trying to intercept negative feedback before a customer even thinks about leaving any – this works. I have had an instance where I had sent the wrong product into Amazon (a smaller version of the one on the listing) and two customers got in touch with me directly in response to the above email. I refunded them and sent them the correct version, and got two five star reviews (there’s that call back I promised earlier. Did you notice? If so, did your eyebrow raise imperceptibly?).
And I’m pretty sure that not many people will go to the trouble of finding out who on Amazon they purchased a product from to leave positive feedback – after all, Amazon did all of the customer related work anyway right – unless they have a link they can click on in front of them, with an emotional call to action (think “small family business”).
So in summary, if we are not doing everything we can to get the buy box, we are reducing our chances of getting it. I know that everyone says you make your money when you buy, but this is an end to end process, and you need to carefully manage each step of it. Give yourself the edge over your competition. But don’t give yourself the edge over me. That should be your main takeway from this post – leave me out of it.
BQool, known for their repricing software, also do a similar service: https://www.bqool.com/products/feedback-central/
I hope that was helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have anything you’d like to add.
I enjoyed writing it, particularly as when I started this blog I wasn’t expecting to be able to make many Wham references.
For other Buy Box related posts take a look at: