Lost Buy Box vs. Buy Box Suppression on Amazon
For brands that sell on Amazon, owning the Buy Box is a driving factor of success. After all, the Buy Box accounts for 85% of sales on the channel.
The designation of the Buy Box is processed through an algorithm that considers several factors. A product's Buy Box or 'Add to Cart' status can change throughout a single day.
When the Buy Box is either lost or suppressed, brands may suffer from an array of consequences. For example, the absence of a Buy Box results in a loss of sales, causing Amazon’s flywheel and organic rank to slow. Additionally, if a listing doesn’t own the Buy Box, any Sponsored Product ads will pause.
With this in mind, paying attention to your products’ Buy Box status is key to running a successful presence on Amazon. It’s also important to know the difference between a lost Buy Box and Buy Box suppression. Here we explain in more detail and share considerations for brands that find themselves in this position.
The Case of a Missing or Suppressed Buy Box
Brands that experience a missing or suppressed Buy Box can have several variables at play. And depending on the unique situation, the outcome can also vary.
Here we share the most common circumstances:
- A Buy Box can also be removed from a brand’s listing entirely even when there are offers available. Instead, a product is able to be purchased in the “Available from these sellers” section on the product detail page. This is caused when Amazon’s algorithm doesn’t identify a single seller with the best possible offer. As a result, a brand could be listed among the additional sellers also selling your product on Amazon. This can also occur when Amazon recognizes your product is being sold for less on another marketplace, such as Walmart.com.
- Finally, a Buy Box can go missing when an entire listing is suppressed or taken down. This is usually the result of a product being completely out of stock with no sellers having an active offer. When this happens, the Buy Box is suppressed, the listing is removed from search results, and shoppers can only find your listing through a direct link or variation. But it can also be due to something more complicated. For example, Amazon’s andon cord team will raise a ticket to promptly remove your listing if something is incorrect or in violation of the channel’s guidelines. An instance like this can occur for a number of reasons but is often triggered by a negative customer review.
Some of the most common causes for a missing or suppressed Buy Box include:
- Product Detail Page Discrepancies: When a product advertises a different pack size than what a customer receives.
- Hazmat or Safety Concerns: This flag is associated with a product that isn’t in line with Amazon’s safety standards or is considered a dangerous good.
- Catalog Data Attributes in Violation of Amazon’s Guidelines: For example, this can happen when a product’s title character count is too long.
Regardless of the cause, your brand will be responsible for identifying and resolving a Buy Box suppression. In our experience, at this point clients have typically been notified by an andon cord team or Amazon vendor manager. But that’s not always the case. When not sent a formal notification, Marketplace Strategy’s proprietary software, MPS Intelligence, alerts us when a client’s Buy Box is suppressed. From there, we work with Amazon support to get to the root of the issue.
When a Product Loses the Buy Box
Losing the Buy Box is different than when it goes missing or has been suppressed. When a product loses the Buy Box, the brand is actually losing it to another seller that has a better offer, as determined by Amazon’s algorithm.
First and most simply, if a product is out of stock, it won’t be eligible to win the Buy Box. But if this isn’t an issue and a product is still losing the Buy Box, price is likely the culprit. The product with the best price is typically awarded this designation. But other factors considered are Prime eligibility, shipment times, positive or negative feedback, and defect rate. If another seller on the channel ranks better in one or more of these areas, a product may lose the Buy Box.
Brands that sell on Vendor Central cannot make adjustments to retail price or determine purchase order size. As a result, they have less control over whether either of these issues affects their products.
Seller Central brands have the power to establish a competitive price point, become Prime eligible by selling through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), and to more actively control inventory and potential stockouts.
The Bottom Line
Every brand can work to prevent Buy Box complications. Above all, proactive catalog management is key. Brands need to be aware of whether their products own the Buy Box and what’s going on behind the scenes. This includes essential preventative measures like inventory management. Having a constant understanding of inventory levels allows brands (at least those on Seller Central) to adjust before there is a problem.
We also suggest becoming familiar with Amazon's guidelines. Make sure a listing's back end attributes, creative, and content assets are clean and accurate. Otherwise, Amazon's algorithm could pick up a discrepancy and suppress the Buy Box.
Finally, be sure to pay attention to a product’s price and how it compares to the competition on Amazon and elsewhere. If Amazon notices a product is offered for a more competitive price on another site, it could remove the listing entirely. Failure to be proactive and understand how to reinstate the Buy Box will result in your brand losing sales, slowing down Amazon’s flywheel, and stagnating organic ranking.
Throughout your brand’s Amazon strategy the Buy Box should be a common theme and focus. Remember what matters to Amazon’s algorithm and be aware of the issues that could contribute to its suppression or removal. A strong understanding will help you steer your brand in the direction of a resolution when necessary.
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