What is the Buy Box and how do you lose it?
On Amazon, several sellers may be offering the same product at the same time. All offers are grouped on a single product page, with only one prominent "Add to Cart" button. A lot of Amazon's alchemy goes into determining which offer is associated with that button. It makes its decision based on availability, price, seller reputation and more.
Brands which have a direct sourcing relationship with Amazon (Vendors) may think that they have the rightful claim to the Buy Box. In many instances, however, they will lose the buy box to third-party sellers.
Some of BlueBoard's clients, prominent international brands, have reported revenue losses of up to 40% over a quarter due to Lost Buy Box issues.
Losing the Buy Box means that although Amazon has inventory from the manufacturer, it will favor linking the Add to Basket button to a 3rd-party seller. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but it usually means that the 3rd-party seller has a good track record and is offering a better price. Amazon explains on their vendor help site how the Buy Box is attributed.
In the example above, the price offered by the 3rd-party vendor is the same as Amazon's. Yet Amazon is not promoting its own inventory.
This causes a direct hit to the performance of the brand. Customers could be buying from them, but will instead get stock from a dubious source. In turn, Amazon may complain that their inventory is not selling fast enough. To maximize their sales, brands must satisfy 100% of the natural demand and reduce the rate of Lost Buy Box.
How to keep track of Lost Buy Box events?
Keeping track of lost buy boxes can be very tedious. Clients reported that manual lost buy box checks require 2 hours of work every day, for every Account Manager.
BlueBoard offers several ways to fast track this process: a dashboard, email notifications, data extracts, and an API.
For every product, the BlueBoard dashboard highlights the offer that is obtaining the Buy Box. In the case above, the red square means that Add to Cart clicks will be directed to a 3rd-party vendor.
By hovering the marketplace price, it is also possible to see the name of the marketplace vendor.
BlueBoard Email Notifications
In BlueBoard, it is possible to set custom notifications to a specific set of products. One of the events you can track is changes in the Buy Box attribution. Here's how to do it:
- Create a new notification,
- Select the products you want to monitor (or select All my products),
- Select online stores to track (in this case: Amazon stores),
- Choose Amazon Buy Box as an event,
- Finally, set the frequency either to Real-time or Daily.
Raw data export
To instantly get a report of Buy Box statuses for a large set of product, display all products on the main dashboard then click Export > Export real-time raw data.
The result is a sizeable .csv file containing a lot of information, with one line per product. The data relevant to the lost Buy Box are in the following columns:
- Amazon Buy Box - Sold in Direct but Lost: Amazon is Selling the item, but another seller has taken possession of the Buy Box. This column should be your primary focus!
- Amazon Buy Box - Winner Name: Either Amazon or a marketplace seller depending on who won the Buy Box. Use it to spot frequent Buy Box thieves.
- Amazon Buy Box - Price: the price offered by the winner of the Buy Box,
- Amazon Buy Box - Is Winner Direct?: yes if Amazon won the Buy Box, no if it is a Marketplace seller,
- Amazon Buy Box - Is Winner Lowest Mkt?: yes if the Buy Box was won by a marketplace seller AND this marketplace seller offered the lowest price of all. No in all other cases,
- Amazon Buy Box - Someone Won?: no, if there is no Buy Box on the page (there may still be some marketplace seller, only Amazon did not deem them worthy of the Buy Box!).
The BlueBoard API
BlueBoard offers a fully-featured API that you can hook to your own information system. You can use it to monitor events on a regular basis but also conduct a long-term analysis. The API gives you access to all the data BlueBoard has collected for your brand, for as long as it has been monitoring your products.
How to act on Lost Buy Box events
Brands need to act on this monitoring to fix situations and increase performances.
- Take action with Amazon, for example when a Lost Buy Box is due to an algorithm issue,
- Document Lost Buy Box events to help in future negotiations with Amazon and to keep track of your progress,
- Understand the origin of marketplace inventory. It might be necessary to test-buy the items from the marketplace seller and cross-check reference numbers.
High ranking product pages are most likely getting the buy box. BlueBoard latest handbook "Improve E-commerce Search Performance" showed everything you need to know about e-commerce digital shelf and amazon search algorithm. Scroll down to Download the Handbook!