Amazon push you to pay more for products

Amazon’s Buy Box policy has come in for some close scrutiny by public interest journalist site ProPublica. The organisation have published research into the behaviour of the marketplace giant when it comes to Buy Box ownership.

For Amazon third party retailers the idiosyncrasies’ around the Buy Box are well known, and all too often it’s a frustration when a competitor, or Amazon themselves, own it. We all know about the need to have a great star rating, a great history and the need in many cases to be using FBA – for Amazon retailers there is no shock there.

However, ProPublica are coming at it from the public’s point of view – fair play given that is their particular interest. So what have the US based non-profit newsroom found out?

Well they tracked a couple of hundred products over several weeks and found that around three quarters of the time it was Amazon or retailers using FBA that were the Buy Box owners. And they also pin pointed a few examples of where Amazon items were top despite being more expensive when postage was included.

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You can view the full ProPublica report on their website as well as download their survey data which shows the item details together with the seller and the fulfilment method.

Alex Ogilvie at Seller Dynamics said “always fascinating to see other people’s research on this, we know the Buy Box comes in for a bit of stick from some quarters, it’s the fulfilment element that’s key – if Amazon know for sure it can get shipped they will favour that. Just how they decide to put their own stuff above that of a retailer from time to time – I have no idea. The whole buy box thing is a big Amazon secret – but in the end comes down to price, trading history, customer satisfaction and Fulfillment – for retailers that’s all the stuff you are concentrating on anyway. It’s dead hard – but that’s the deal.”

For the public, buying on Amazon, it’s an interesting education piece, retailers know that the Buy Box isn’t always the best price, so it’s good that this can shared more widely. The Buy Box is using a combination of price and other quality metrics – if that message can be publicised so much the better for all the third party retailers and for Amazon.