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Have Amazon changed the Buy Box formula?

By Chris Dawson October 20, 2014 - 8:51 am

SalesTamebay reader Bernard has noticed some of his listings which previously performed well on Amazon are no longer winning the Buy Box.

Some early investigation appears to suggest that Amazon UK listings are now losing the Buy Box when competing other fulfilled by merchant listings offering Free Delivery. It seems the ranking of a fulfilled by merchant listing with FREE Delivery is greater than that without.

Previously an FBM listing with delivery extra only had to be 1p cheaper than the competing listing with FREE Delivery to win the Buy Box. Testing on a listing, Bernard says that “Changing prices manually in increments, the price (of listing charging delivery) difference now needs to be approx 2% (1.96%) lower than listing with Free delivery, to win Buy Box”.

This could be a one off or it could be a policy change that reflects a marketplace preference for Free delivery – similar to FBA products beating FBM products by 5% or so.

Have you noticed any difference with price and winning the buy box on Amazon? We’ve been unable to speak to any of the repricing services over the weekend, but if they’re reading we’d love to hear their insights.

  • Phil Davies
    3 years ago

    This is a good thing and can only make prices more transparent. There is no such thing as free delivery, it is incorporated into the price. I don’t understand why sellers don’t move onto this model and then just have a premium option for express delivery. It is irritating as a buyer seeing a small postage charge in tiny grey font and i personally usually avoid such sellers.

    What you really should be reporting on here Chris is the preference and market manipulation Amazon have toward FBA listings. This in my view is unacceptable and a complete abuse of their power and what a fair marketplace should involve. Amazon have rigged FBA to have a 10-15% Buy Box price premium over competing merchants. As a seller, you have little choice but you use the FBA system or face almost no sales. Also in my view, unless the customer is subscribed to Prime, the speed of processing and delivery is much slower than our own internal performance.

    • Tim
      3 years ago

      Having items at “Free Postage” usually ends up more expensive for customers if they purchase multiple items. If you’re buying a DVD and postage is £1.50, most sellers will be able to offer additional items at an extra 50p to postage to accommodate the increase in weight.

      If postage is included into the item price, then each item will have the £1.50 postage added to the item price so you’re paying that each time no matter how many DVDs you purchase are placed into one parcel.

      I personally wouldn’t dismiss a seller if they’re trying to be upfront with their postage costs. It sounds more that you’re not happy with how postage costs are displayed?

  • fusion
    3 years ago

    Yeah, I feel the FBA can be unfair to sellers not using it. When I stated with Amazon Spain, we got a few negative feedback due to Airmail post being really bad when sending to Spain. When Amazon suspended us they said we use FBA or we can’t have the account back. They did not accept were could try another postage method. Granted it was our responsibility with getting the order to the customer but all the other countries were fine so we though Airmail would be fine to Spain. But that’s just another aspect of the FBA

  • hereford united fan
    3 years ago

    My biggest issue is competing with US sellers. I sell computer games and they are sending the NTSC version instead on the PAL version.

    They only do it where the game will work but it is still against Amazon rules.

    My biggest issue is that it is not made clear to the customer that they are buying from the US and they may have to pay import duties and will certainly have to wait quite a long time.

    At least ebay makes it clear if you are buying froma non UK seller.

    Amazon should give more weight to the domestic sellers.

    • Bunchy
      3 years ago

      That’s my big problem on Amazon, overseas sellers pihhybacking on the listings I created and uploaded to the site years ago.

      I price my items accordingly and charge for p&p, then some China based seller comes along with free postage and the item for £’s less.
      Poor customer doesn’t really have much clue that the tem is going to take between 15 and 30 days to arrive (and sometimes not arrive at all) until it’s too late.

      I’ve suggested to Amazon that they should have some kind of clear indication of delivery time from each seller on the item page and the location of the seller. Amazon are bamboozling their own customers with this and they won’t accept or acknowlege that it is a problem and putting buyers off.

      I was looking for a hat the other day and it took me a long time to find a UK based seller. I did complain to Amazon as a buyer but they weren’t intereted that I’d found what I wanted on ebay instead. They were only interested in pushing Amazon Prime becuase then I could see fast deliverers on one place.

  • Glenn
    3 years ago

    I have been selling FBA for the last couple of years and without doubt I have gained an advantage in wining the buy box. However the advantage of the blue buy box very quickly disappears once Amazon starts messing around with your stock and listings. My moans and groans about Amazon and FBA could go on and on and when I have a bit more time I will seek to submit separate articles detailing each issue. At this time of year Amazon are encouraging sellers to prepare for Christmas by using FBA, well all I can say is that I am returning to fulfilling many of my products because I’m sick to death of the grief I encounter practically every day.

    When FBA works it works great, but when it goes wrong it goes wrong in ways you couldn’t imagine.

  • thomas
    3 years ago

    i can also confirm that this to be the case
    glad to hear i was not the only seller
    the date when the algorithm changed was 26th september 2014
    my buy box percentage before was 15% now since 26th sept it is 7%
    now i am planning to include free postage on amazon from today

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