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Marketplaces: how to get the coveted Buy Box?

Marketplaces: how to get the coveted Buy Box?

Why do marketplaces choose to highlight one e-merchant rather than another in their "Buy Box" when both sellers offer the same product? This situation is often experienced as an injustice by e-merchants who sell products that are also distributed by other companies.

Marketplaces do not randomly promote a brand for the sake of it. Moreover, the Buy Box cannot be bought: it can be won! So how do you get the Buy Box? What are the subtleties between the Amazon and the FNAC, Rakuten, and Back Market Buy Boxes? Before answering these questions, let's first go back to the concept of the Buy Box.

What is a Buy Box?

On the marketplaces, the Buy Box simply corresponds to the "add to cart" button proposed to the Internet user on a product page. When several e-merchants offer the same product in the marketplace, the product page becomes common to all sellers. Only one of them is associated with the "add to cart" CTA. The other sellers are relegated to the background.  For a better understanding, here is a example from Amazon:

Here, in the Buy Box at the top right of the page, only one seller is associated with the "add to cart" CTA and "buy this item". This is the seller who has won the Buy Box among all the competing sellers. Below the Buy Box is a clickable list of 52 sellers for the same product, but this is not highlighted. It's followed by three other vendor recommendations associated with an 'add to basket' CTA that is smaller than the Buy Box.

The role of the Buy Box is crucial for several reasons. When browsing the site, the Internet user will favor the CTA, which is highlighted. In the case of Amazon, this is the "add to cart" button on the Buy Box, which is highly visible due to its size and position on the page.

Getting the Buy Box is therefore a guarantee that visitors interested in the product will favor you as a buyer over your competitors. And that your turnover takes off on the platform. But to get the Buy Box, the competition is tough. So how do marketplaces award the Buy Box to sellers?

How do you get the Buy Box?

Each marketplace uses an algorithm to determine which e-merchant will get the Buy Box. This algorithm is based on different criteria, which vary for each platform. In this article, we will look at the Buy Boxes of four major marketplaces: Amazon, FNAC, Rakuten, and Back Market.

1. The Amazon Buy Box

The Amazon Buy Box accounts for 82% of sales on the platform. The algorithm offers the Buy Box to the seller who offers the best buying experience. On Amazon, this algorithm is based on several criteria: the selling price, the rate of satisfaction (ratio between the number of notifications received VS the percentage of the rating) as well as customer service or delivery performance. In addition to the price offered, Amazon therefore relies on your seller metrics.

To be eligible for the Buy Box, it is imperative to have a professional account on the platform. To make it easier for e-merchants to understand the algorithm, Amazon has disclosed a minimum level of the following metrics:

  • Percentage of perfect orders: 95%

  • On-time delivery: 97%

  • Percentage of order traceability: 95%

  • Late delivery rate: <4%

  • Cancellation rate: <2.5%

  • Delivery time: <14 days

  • Customer response time: 90% of responses within 24 hours

On mobile, the Buy Box is even more important. Note that 5 of the 7 factors are impacted by delivery. In this way, Amazon controls a great deal of the shopping experience for its customers.

2. The FNAC Buy Box

On the FNAC site, sales are conducted differently. First, FNAC itself can offer the product for sale, in which case the brand will be highlighted in a dedicated Buy Box with the brand's colors. The other sellers will compete for a second Buy Box. Here's an example:

To choose between the other sellers, FNAC imposes an evaluation higher than 4 out of 5 and a claim rate lower than 5%. If several e-merchants remain in the competition, the platform will by default choose the one offering the best price to Internet users.

3. The Rakuten Buy Box:

The example of Rakuten is interesting because it shows that some platforms remain quite secret about the algorithms used to allocate their Buy Box. Indeed, there is no official communication on the criteria for awarding the Rakuten Buy Box to its sellers.

Nevertheless, it is easy to imagine that the opinions of Internet users, the rate of complaints, or delivery time could be criteria taken into account by the platform. One blog also cites unsourced information that the shopping cart abandonment rate should not exceed 5% of total sales.

In any case, this unknown quality indicator has the merit of encouraging e-merchants to offer the best possible shopping experience to Internet users instead of focusing on specific metrics.

4. The Back Market Buy Box

The Back Market marketplace, which specializes in refurbished products, offers a Buy Box system that is different from other platforms. When a merchant wins the Buy Box, other sellers do not appear on the product page. In other words, winning the Buy Box on Back Market for a product means winning 100% of the sales for this product on the platform.

The "quality score" set up by Back Market takes into account:

  • Order cancellations,

  • Late deliveries,

  • Defective rate (a very important criterion in the reconditioned products market)

  • Accessory or aesthetic problems (also important for reconditioned products)

  • Contact rate

  • Response time to customer inquiries

  • Client satisfaction survey

Beyond the proposed buying experience, product quality and smooth delivery are therefore central elements of the Back Market algorithm.

In conclusion

Responsible for 82% of Amazon sales, and 100% of Back Market sales, the Buy Box must be central to your marketplace strategy. While each platform uses different indicators to determine which seller will win the Buy Box, they all take into account the proposed buying experience and customer satisfaction.

Delivery remains a key element in obtaining the Buy Box. That's why outsourcing your logistics to a specialized company with a native connection to marketplaces can be a winning strategy to get the Buy Box!

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