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How to win the marketplace buy box in 2022

Seasoned e-commerce retailers are probably familiar with the buy box, where it is believed that best offers lie. This little mechanism is popular among marketplace giants like Amazon, Bol.com, Google Shopping, Fnac, eBay, Walmart, and more. It’s essentially the holy grail for sellers, with the potential for an astounding increase in visibility and sales. Amazon reported that 82% of sales go through the buy box. [1]

As more vendors are entering the e-commerce space, competition can get a little heavy. Millions of sellers are now competing for a piece of the consumer attention pie. Amazon sees 2.7 billion visits a month, eBay sees over 107 million visitors, and AliExpress has 528 million. [2] [3] The need for differentiation is especially pertinent in today’s e-commerce industry, where many stores offer similar goods. E-retailers must do more to make their brand stand out amidst the fierce competition. This is where the coveted buy box comes in.

What is a buy box?

The buy box is essentially an algorithm-calculated feature that pops up every time a visitor types in a search term. The featured product will come along with an “Add to cart” option, along with product specifics and seller details. On e-commerce marketplaces, the buy box is precious real estate that allows products to be shown first for their relevant searches. Other similar products will only be shown at the sidebar or below the buy box. The algorithm is essentially recommending a “best fit” for the buyer’s needs.

It’s also important to note that buy box products will rotate monthly or yearly, giving other sellers a chance to be shown.

Why your e-commerce business needs a marketplace

Before you gun for the buy box, it’s essential to understand why you need to start selling on an e-commerce marketplace. Besides potentially welcoming huge audiences to your listing, engaging with marketplaces can bring a myriad of benefits to your online business:

  • Tap into marketplace visitor traffic to expand business on a global scale
  • Leverage marketplace features, such as visual search and shipping service to enhance customer experience
  • Expand brand reach and accessibility through multiple sale channels
  • Conduct safe new product demand testing
  • Compete with other sellers by optimizing product listings
  • Cut down on time-consuming business processes through automation of transactions, invoicing, order management, and more
  • It helps boost sales and increase sales opportunities when customers land on products they did not intentionally search for.

Now that we have the basics right, it’s time to learn how to excel in your marketplace by winning the buy box.

Why winning the buy box is essential for business success

Let’s take a moment to think from a buyer perspective: how often do you click on the first result you find or scroll past the first page?

If you’re looking to push large volumes of products, your best bet to increase visibility and credibility comes from securing the buy box spot.  70% of shoppers on Amazon do not scroll past the first page of search results. [4] Similarly, a quarter of searches on Google click on the first result. [5] As mobile shopping increases in popularity, these numbers will only continue to surge. 

Of course, there are instances where searchers will scroll past the buy box to select other options manually. But you have to consider the chances of that happening. Consumers nowadays not only expect but demand convenience. Buy box purchases are mostly a result of convenience and ease of purchase since they can select the product type and quantity and immediately add to the cart.

The challenges with market potential mean that more sellers will continue to vie for consumers’ attention – some with little to no differentiation except for the price. Even then, out of millions of listings, it can be hard to communicate to prospects and say, “Hey, it’s us – we’re the best!” The buy box then gives sellers enough market share on digital sale channels, providing organic traffic boost and conversions to drive revenue.

For a feature that accounts for over 80% of Amazon’s sales (we’re talking billions of dollars here) and even higher on mobile purchases, winning the buy box is one of the surefire ways to guarantee that your brand achieves success in 2021.

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How to win the buy box

Listing optimization on Amazon and other marketplaces work on the same principles of search engine optimization, where sellers can provide as much relevant and accurate information to rank higher on the results page. However, the buy box takes it a step further by having a specific set of requirements that sellers have to fulfill.

The thing about most marketplaces is that they aren’t just going to let anyone and everyone get a buy box spot. Out of millions of sellers, third-party and internal, the algorithm captures a few metrics to see if they qualify for the buy box. Across multiple marketplaces, each one has a unique calculation for their buy box winners. 

Let’s take a look at some e-commerce marketplaces.

Amazon

Amazon’s buy box strategy is one of the more complex ones among other marketplaces. Users are subject to frequent algorithm changes, which can lead to confusion or outdated practices. However, when it boils down to winning the buy box, it can be helpful to optimize listings as much as possible through:

  • Offering low or competitive pricing on products and shipping costs
  • Frequently updating inventory levels and keeping a proper stock availability at all times
  • Offering fast shipping options and minimizing delivery times
  • Keeping an impeccable record of order fulfillment
  • Maintaining a high customer experience score
  • Using of Amazon’s FBA services and warehouse infrastructure to fulfill orders (optional)

While most retailers have a misconception that pricing is high-priority in the buy box game, that isn’t always the case. For instance, sellers that offer other benefits such as fast shipping tags can reprice their products slightly higher and still qualify for the buy box. Quick delivery times can also help you score more sales outside of the buy box, and 61.8% of shoppers consider shipping costs above other factors. [6]

Bol.com (Netherlands)

Bol.com consistently tracks seller and product performance every week to ensure that they meet the service standards for winning the buy box. Sellers will have access to their performance rating based on Bol.com’s metrics [7], such as:

  • Rating grade of 8 or higher
  • 98% timely delivery rate
  • 2% cap on canceled orders
  • 5% inquiry rate for completed orders
  • 90% call response rate
  • Tracking number on 100% of all package shipments

By checking all the boxes off this rubric, sellers will qualify to win the buy box. A higher performance score means higher chances of winning. Especially during periods of increased shopping activity, consistently meeting the service standards will put sellers in the running for the buy box spot. On the flip side, failure to meet these requirements will subject stores to an assessment that decides whether they can continue to sell on the marketplace.

Walmart

You may be thinking of groceries right now, but Walmart has a marketplace where third-party sellers can list items for sale. Luckily, Walmart’s marketplace is not as saturated as its competitors, which means that retailers can have a higher chance of winning the buy box if they play their cards right. Walmart’s buy box strategy is relatively straightforward, often awarding the treasured spot to the lowest-priced listing. However, there are still several factors to consider:

  • Competitive pricing point among other similar product listings
  • A proper stock inventory
  • No shipping costs or a meager shipping cost
  • Timely deliveries and order fulfillment rate
  • Number of positive reviews

Remember that even if you’re not competing for the buy box for some reason, these aspects should still be a focal point of your e-commerce selling strategy.

Winning the buy box with e-commerce tools

Successfully capturing the buy box on various marketplaces can be challenging, but it is not impossible. With the help of e-tailize platform, sellers can now master the modern marketplace with the complete e-commerce toolset.

Set competitive pricing with repricer features

Many marketplaces prioritize pricing when it comes to buy box ownership. With a repricing automation tool, you will be able to mirror competitors’ price changes and adjust to fit so that you will always keep the market’s desired price.

Automate transactions, shipping, and delivery processes

Going beyond affordable pricing, winning the buy box requires sellers to deliver efficient and speedy shipments. By automating the order process, from transactions, invoicing to shipping, sellers will be able to fulfill orders quickly and offer shorter estimated delivery times to win customers over. In addition, e-tailize helps to ensure order fulfillment that can meet growing consumer expectations and lead to positive reviews.

Real-time data transfer to ensure efficiency

e-tailize’s market integrator allows sellers to take on an omnichannel approach, syncing all product data across multiple sale channels to ensure that product information is always updated in real-time. Sellers are able to access data that reflect actual inventory levels and replenish their stock when it’s due time, view high-performing listings and shipping details all in a centralized dashboard. With access to top marketplaces, e-retailers can duplicate high-performing listings across all websites and optimize listing based on best practices.

Master modern marketplace management with e-tailize

Winning the buy box in a saturated e-commerce industry is no easy task, but the rewards will certainly pay off! Marketplaces utilize a powerful feature to help sellers get to the top and achieve revenue growth success. The bottom line is: it’s always important to think from the buyer’s perspective and optimize your product listings based on what sells. With e-tailize’s scientific and research-backed approach, sellers will make data-driven decisions and find the best methods for success in the e-commerce world.

Sources

  1. https://www.selleractive.com/e-commerce-blog/how-the-amazon-buy-box-works
  2. https://www.fundera.com/resources/ebay-statistics
  3. https://techjury.net/blog/aliexpress-market-share/
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/07/15/amazon-listing-optimization-send-your-product-to-the-top/?sh=1a8ec32b12a2
  5. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-first-page-clicks/374516/
  6. https://www.emarketer.com/content/online-shoppers-want-more-control-over-deliveries
  7. https://www.channelengine.com/marketplace-blog/win-the-buy-box-by-optimizing-performance-on-bol-com/
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