Being an Amazon vendor means that your brand supplies products directly to the giant e-tailer. Ideally, the buy box—also known as the “Add to cart” button—should be all yours; or at the very least, vendors should be the main shareholder of this button. However, marketplace sellers can sometimes persuade Amazon's algorithm that it should instead allocate the buy box to them. This results in a direct loss of sales for Amazon’s vendors.
BlueBoard's systems analyze millions of product pages across many e-tailers, including Amazon. Using our most up-to-date data points, we worked to gain valuable insights into which type of marketplace sellers can win the buy box. For the purpose of this article, we only extracted data points where marketplace sellers had taken the buy box from a vendor. Our goal is to assist vendors in retaining the buy box to achieve the best possible e-commerce sales performance. Identifying sellers who win the buy box over your brand on a recurring basis can help you:
- Maximize direct sales;
- Detect unauthorized sellers;
- Stay aware of potential or ongoing price wars; and
- Prioritize your marketing and ad spending.
Using BlueBoard's data, we analyzed the top 10 highest-performing marketplace sellers across seven Amazon sites (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Canada) to try to identify the most common traits of recurring buy box predators.
The first step to being buy box eligible is to have an excellent performance profile.
Professional Seller status
A must for all marketplace sellers to be eligible.
The buy box only features new products.
Experience in e-commerce sales
Many of buy-box-winning sellers have strong retailing and e-tailing experience
According to seller claims, many of them have 10-20 years of experience in retail, running physical stores and selling on several e-tailers.
100% of sellers have been selling on Amazon for at least one year.
54% of sellers are running their own e-commerce website in addition to Amazon, while some other sellers distribute their products at more than one e-tailer, such as Rakuten, eBay or C-discount.
Product range variety depends on the distribution strategy
Some sellers apply selective distribution by offering a limited range of products while focusing on volume. On the other hand, many sellers choose to expand their range, offering up to 1M products in one or more product categories. As for winning buy box sellers in this study, the majority of these sellers offer around 5k-10k products (22.8%), while only 2.8% of sellers offer between 100k-500k products.
Customer satisfaction is crucial in e-commerce because it represents the website’s credibility and strengthens trust with buyers. Amazon knows this well, which is why it has set stringent rules for sellers to follow. Buy-box-winning sellers in this study all managed to achieve high customer satisfaction levels and low ODR (order defect rate) while using either FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) or FBM (Fulfilled by Merchants).
Order Defect Rate (ODR)
Sellers achieve low ODR by stating clear Return & Refund policy, being responsive to buyers and strictly following the A-Z guarantee
Sellers’ ODR must remain less than 1%. The ODR metric is based on A-to-Z Guarantee claims, negative feedback, and chargebacks. An ODR higher than 1% puts the seller’s account at risk of suspension.
On average, a winning buy box seller maintains a negative review percentage of 3.8%. When breaking this down into regions, the stats show:
In cases where sellers apply their own Return and Refund policy, they state this very clearly in their profile, and some sellers even provide a detailed guideline and fill-in form that is accessible on their Amazon profile to all buyers.
Sellers don't just depend on Amazon to interact with their customers. They provide several contact options for buyers to reach them.
Customer satisfaction and positive reviews are critical to sellers’ performance. The three most common customer support channels that sellers use are:
- Direct phone contact
- Email address for the customer support team
- Direct message to the seller via the Amazon platform
Although making contact via the Amazon platform is a prefixed option, the majority of the sellers in this study chose to include one or two additional contact options to ensure buyers can easily reach them.
Fulfillment method vs. Customers Satisfaction
There is a strong correlation between using FBA and customer satisfaction
Yes or No to FBA has been a controversial topic on Amazon Seller Central. There is an ongoing debate as to whether FBA will give sellers and vendors an edge, but many sellers claim that FBA didn't help their sales performance by much and is costly to use.
Our contribution to this topic is that we discovered that using FBA helps to increase the seller's performance. Analyzed sellers who use FBA received higher customer review ratings than sellers who use FBM. On average, sellers who use FBA achieved a customer satisfaction rate of 97.9%, while this rate for FBM sellers is 93.5%.
Across all Amazon sites, Amazon.com (US) has the highest number of sellers who use FBA (7 out of 10 sellers). Simultaneously, the customer satisfaction rate in this region is also the highest among all of the sites (97.4%).
*Disclaimer: This dataset only examined the top 10 winning buy box sellers across seven Amazon sites at the time the data was collected - early April of 2019 - and for the subset of products that BlueBoard follows on these seven sites (see attachment). The product category over-represents consumer electronics, which may introduce a bias. The buy box winners information is only accurate at the moment we collected the data because the Amazon buy box rotates continuously.
Nevertheless, the sellers analyzed in this article are top-performing marketplace sellers and the insights apply to all other categories.