In Online Retail’s Fight for Amazon’s Buy Box, the Weapon is Data


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Many companies enter the fray for possession of the coveted default seller position on Amazon pages — the seller you end up choosing when you click the big orange “buy” button — but only one can win. Since an estimated 85 to 90 percent of the sales for a given product page go to the winner, it’s a consequential choice. In Buzzfeed, Leticia Miranda lays out how this struggle has evolved, and what criteria Amazon uses to resolve it.

The answers are to some extent opaque: Amazon won’t detail its formula for fear it will get gamed, but says companies can win by “keeping prices low, updating their inventory, and offering multiple shipping methods and fast, reliable service.” Also, it helps if they are Amazon Marketplace veterans and if they ship from Amazon warehouses.

Price is important but not determinative. Amazon also has a lot invested in keeping up customer service standards. In the end, the system’s greatest impact may be on the retailers themselves, who must become obsessive data optimizers to compete. As one purveyor of equine supplies says to Buzzfeed, “We’re really a data company.”

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