The buy box is a famous concept in the eCommerce industry. It highlights your listing and items over your competitors, in some cases even hiding them altogether. Marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart combine similar listings. Sellers with the same product get stacked using algorithms surrounding price, seller ratings, customer satisfaction, and more.
On Amazon, more than 90% of sales go through the buy box, and winning the buy box gives you a huge boost in visibility over competitors across all marketplaces. Consumers are more likely to simply hit “add to cart” or “buy now” rather than scrolling down to review options. If you don’t have the buy box, only 10% of consumers will ever consider your product, and that 10% will be split between all other competitors for that product. If you don’t land the buy box, you’ll have to pay for most of your sales.
Amazon, Walmart, and eBay all have their own iterations of the buy box, buy box algorithm, and ranking factors. However, many of them follow the same standards for fast shipping, quality customer service, and good inventory management.
In this article, we’ll analyze the buy box across marketplaces and the factors that consistently contribute to landing them.
What the buy box look like across marketplaces
Amazon’s buy box is a simple “Add to Cart” button, which links to one item, either from Amazon or a third-party seller. The “Add to Cart” is always a new item.
Customers can also scroll down on the page to see more seller options.
Once they click “Used and new”, customers see a total list of options, including secondhand, with options ranked by price, shipping option, and seller rating.
Amazon’s model was the first mainstream “buy box” solution, and the other major players are following suit.
Walmart launched their marketplace in 2016 and began onboarding third-party sellers soon after. The platform integrates a simpler buy box, which prioritizes sold-by-Walmart products but also ranks sellers with duplicate listings.
Walmart’s buy box also uses an “Add to Cart” button. Customers can also scroll down to see more sellers, just like on the Amazon buy box.
Unlike Amazon, Walmart’s buy box shows more information from the top alternatives. Once you click through, the page is almost the same as Amazon’s comparison.
eBay’s buy box functions in a similar way, but eBay chooses to call it “Product Pages.” While eBay has long touted their 1 billion + products metric, the marketplace has a massive problem with duplicate listings, and Product Pages are one way to combat this. Like the buy box, Product Pages work by stacking duplicate listings. Unlike Amazon and Walmart, eBay shows some alternatives in search.
Once you click on the product, it takes you to the top seller, or the buy box winner.
eBay has also incorporated a search feature called “Group Similar Listings” wherein shoppers can opt to combine similar listings.
Each of these buy box options uses its own algorithm, but most also highlight sellers for the same general reasons.
Factors that consistently contribute to landing the buy box across marketplaces
Depending on the marketplace, you may have to meet specific seller requirements, such as having sold 100+ items, having a rating over a certain point (typically 4+ stars or 95% + positive customer reviews) or have a certain type of account. However, there are factors that will contribute to landing the buy box no matter which account you’re on.
Pricing is the most important metric in any buy box algorithm. Here, you have to consider your Landed Cost, or the total cost of the product with the price, shipping, and any taxes that might be included.
Every eCommerce marketplace is committing to shipping products as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Your fulfillment option will dramatically impact your ability to compete, even if you don’t win the buy box.
Keeping your fulfillment metrics high and using a reliable fulfillment method will help you land coveted top spots on every marketplace. Why? Optimizing your fulfillment will help you to reduce costs, lowering your total product price.
Strong fulfillment solutions will result in positive reviews across marketplaces, which also factors into buy box metrics. Good fulfillment contributes to account health metrics such as orders shipped on time, orders shipped with valid tracking, orders arrived on time and customer satisfaction, which are present in various formats on nearly every marketplace. You’ll also be able to deliver more quickly, which we cover in our next factor.
While it’s very much related to fulfillment, taking part in fast shipping programs or offering fast shipping on your own will greatly benefit your ability to win the buy box.
Amazon kickstarted a demand for faster shipping, and many customers now expect or even demand products within a few days. Walmart and eBay are both working to capture the same audience, and both have integrated different fast shipping programs to try to keep up.
Walmart Free 2-Day Shipping offers free shipping on eligible products for orders over $35. eBay Guaranteed Delivery assures delivery within a certain number of days. Both require you to have strong fulfillment solutions in place.
Amazon, eBay, and Walmart reward sellers for taking part in fast shipping programs by featuring those products around their site, including in the buy box. For example, Walmart sellers can land the buy box by simply participating in 2-Day Free Shipping, without making any other changes.
Seller reviews and account health are taken into consideration on every platform with a buy box algorithm. It’s important to be conscientious of your total account reviews on every platform. Here, your goal should be to consistently ship products quickly, to process orders quickly, and to offer quality customer service.
Tip: Learn the best tactics for getting reviews on different marketplaces. For example, Walmart can syndicate reviews.
Every marketplace takes your total inventory into account, because winning the buy box will impact sales velocity. However, each marketplace uses different ratios, and you can still win the buy box with just a few products in stock, providing your nearest competitors have low stock as well.
Here, your best option is to manage total inventory on products, so that you have enough to meet a sales spike in case you do win the buy box. At the same time, you don’t want to stock too much because it could increase storage costs or incur additional costs.
The higher your sales velocity, the better your chances of winning the buy box. The most popular marketplaces use your performance metrics to calculate whether you can meet sales if your product owns the buy box. Most platforms utilize either 100 total sales over the duration of the product or 100 total sales within the past 3 months as a minimum, unless no competitors with more sales are available.
Buy Box Alternatives
While winning the buy box is the most important way to make sales on any given platform, it’s often not the only option. Most platforms allow you to supplement sales with some form of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads or deals and discounts for that same product.
Note: Amazon Sponsored Products are not on this list because you cannot run a sponsored product ad without also owning the buy box.
eBay Deals are a promotional offering available to Top Rated Sellers. Here, your account manager will invite you to the program if you have an in-demand product, a high sales velocity, and are willing to discount anywhere from 20% or more.
While you can’t actively opt into eBay Deals, you can work to increase sales velocity while keeping your metrics up. In most cases, this means having a DSR of <4.6 in each category and having a total feedback score of 98% or higher.
Walmart Performance Ads
Walmart Performance Ads are PPC ads (you pay when someone clicks) allowing you to market your products to sellers directly through “Sponsored Product” banners across the site. These banners are displayed based on search keywords (similarly to Amazon’s Sponsored Products) and allow you to cap cost per click, total products sold, and the ad run duration. You must opt into Walmart’s 2-Day Free Shipping to qualify.
eBay Promoted Listings
eBay Sponsored Products or Promoted Listings are another PPC ad option, with one caveat. eBay doesn’t actually charge per click or per listing, instead, they charge a higher percentage of the total sale.
To qualify, you’ll have to pay for a Store Subscription (Starter works as well), become a Top-Rated Seller, and meet specific metrics including having had an active account for 90+ days, have sold at least $1000 of products over a minimum of 100 transactions, a transaction defect rate of <0.3%, a late shipment rate of <3%, and a closed sales rate of <0.3%. Promoted Listings are promoted on search engine results pages just like Amazon and Walmart sponsored products.
Landing the buy box is the most important way to drive sales across online marketplaces. With so many sales going through the buy box on most platforms, not owning it will cost you most of your sales potential.
Winning the buy box is mostly a combination of a high seller rating, consistent customer service and fulfillment quality, and the lowest (total) price for product and shipping. Knowing this should help equip and prepare you to boost your chances of winning those buy boxes.
This is a guest post from Michael Krakaris of Deliverr. Deliverr provides fast and affordable fulfillment for your eBay, Walmart and Shopify stores, helping to boost sales through programs like Walmart Free 2-Day Shipping and eBay Guaranteed Delivery.
Deliverr’s FBA-like multi-channel fulfillment comes with clear pricing, easy onboarding and a hassle-free experience so you can focus on growing your eCommerce business.