Our latest innovation to win you more Buy Box is the xSellco Buy Box Predictor, available in the Plus and Ultimate repricer packages.
The xSellco Buy Box Predictor is our own proprietary algorithm which aims to reverse engineer how the Amazon Buy Box works. You can read another help centre article with details on how the Buy Box works.
How it works
We analyse every single price change and competitor across all your inventory. Every change is analysed INSTANTLY and we assess how likely you are to win the Buy Box compared to your competitors.
The following are the factors we assess in our algorithm for assessing your likelihood of winning the Buy Box:
What we compare
Why we analyse it
Larger sellers who are well established (and therefore have a large feedback score) will be favoured in winning the buy box
Giving good customer care will give a higher feedback percentage. The closer you are to 100% (the score Amazon give themselves!) the more likely you are to win the buy box.
The Buy Box favours Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) over Fulfilled By Merchant (FBM). This typically results in FBA listings being able to maintain the Buy Box with significantly higher pricing
If the listing is Fulfilled by Merchant and you offer expedited shipping as an option, it increases the likelihood of you winning the Buy Box
Time to Despatch
The length of time you or your competitor take to despatch an item. The quicker the despatch the more favourable in helping you win the Buy Box
Where the item is despatched from influenced the winning of the Buy Box. For example a seller located in Italy shipping to the UK has a slight disadvantage in winning the Buy Box
Each of these is scored in our algorithm, and is given a weighting which helps decide the probability of you winning the Buy Box.
For example, the FBA weighting has the affect of reducing the price against a Merchant Fulfilled listing, making them more likely to win the buy box even with a higher price. We are processing millions of data points every day in deciding these probabilities and we will be continuing to refine and improve this tool. Our goal is that it helps you focus on the products where you can change your strategy and win more buy box.
It should be used with a range of other tools such as our historical Buy Box trending tool to assess the effectiveness of your pricing strategy. One caveat to note for our book seller customers, this feature does display for products in the book category even though only Amazon can win the buy box.
When it comes to retail, the customer calls the shots. In 2018, they decide where the sale takes place. The modern consumer wants it all; convenience, choice and a low price. One of the ways sellers can try to meet these expectations is by offering their products across multiple channels and marketplaces. Multi-channel retail can be difficult to get right, but it pays off big time when you succeed.
Here’s a stat for you; businesses with a presence on two marketplaces have 190% more revenue than those selling on only one. That tells its own story, doesn’t it? It makes sense; more markets mean more customers, more customers mean more conversions and more conversions… You see the simple point being made. There’s a lot more to it than that, however.
There’s plenty to consider before you commit to new channels. Should you dive in and list all of your products on every single channel or are you best to show caution and trial one or two first? Are you better keeping your prices fixed across the entire network or is it wise to offer a discount on your own website? Is your business ready to scale up and fulfill all of these additional orders?
We talked to 3 e-commerce experts to get their thoughts on what goes into a successful multi-channel strategy.
“The path to purchase for consumers is no longer linear and consists of many twists and turns. As a result, retailers need to adjust their strategies in how the both capture customer attention and keep customer attention. This includes gaining customer attention once it may be distracted as today’s consumers often are. Because of the various avenues customers take that ultimately lead them to their final purchase decisions, merchants need to be visible in as many touchpoints as possible allowing them to consistently stay in touch with their customers. This includes via social media, marketplaces, branded e-commerce sites, email marketing, online review sites such as Yelp and more.”
Nicole’s point about the circuitous route that consumers often take towards purchase is well-made. You have an obligation to get your brand on as many platforms as possible (whether that’s e-commerce sites, social media networks or dedicated review channels) to keep your message alive. Marketing your business in 2018 is about making sure that the consumer feels they have found you, rather the traditional method of you finding them (via tv, radio, print etc). If they believe they’ve stumbled upon you then the more organic and authentic their purchase will feel.
In your business’ eco-system, your credibility carries over from one channel to another. You need to be confident that you can deliver the same level of experience across each of them. Yes, the nature of the experience may vary but the quality must be consistent. A poor product or seller review on Amazon will show up when someone googles you, and that will matter to the customer, no matter where they were of thinking of making the purchase.
“My clients are finding opportunities in multichannel selling by offering their catalog where the customer is (increasing brand awareness) but allowing the purchase to occur where the customer is most comfortable. For example, a customer may go to a brick and mortar store to learn about a product, but then pull up the Amazon.com app and purchase the product at a better price.
My client wins because the customer became aware of the product at the brick and mortar store, but made the purchase on Amazon where, although the product may be cheaper, their credit card is stored and has free 2-day Prime shipping.
A challenge with multichannel selling is pricing. Manufacturers who choose to sell at bulk discounts to distributors give up the right to end-retail pricing. For a company like Amazon, where profitability is not a short-term goal, they are able to sell at incredibly low prices which may be unattainable for other channels to compete with – driving out a channel of awareness for a customer to learn about the product.
In the coming years, I see a shift in 2 directions; new brands selling directly to consumers and manufacturers relying more on Amazon.com. Brands are able to reach their end customer much easier today with everyone having a smartphone. In years past, they would need to go through a distributor that had access to a large customer base.
Manufacturers that sell to distributors will see Amazon cannibalize a greater portion of other sales channels as they have a longer-term view on scale vs profitability and a large and growing customer base. That allows them to dictate the best terms with vendors to provide the lowest retail price, on and offline, to the end customer”.
Reed makes a great point here about seeing certain channels as marketing opportunities, whilst focusing your conversion efforts elsewhere. It’s a sentiment that many experts share. Multichannel selling does not necessarily mean that all channels fulfill the same role (or are going to have the same ROI) in your business. Some of them may actually be more useful to you in terms of increasing your brand’s visibility, whilst others offer a better margin or more favorable selling conditions.
Working out how each channel fits into your overall strategy will reap rewards down the line.
His comment regarding pricing is right on the money (pardon the pun). Very few things in e-commerce (and especially on Amazon) are as important. It’s why we developed our cutting-edge repricing tool, designed to help sellers make the most money on every product and win the Amazon Buy Box. We’re so confident in our software that we offer new clients a free trial, with no strings attached.
“E-commerce sellers should take particular care to ensure that they are not only selling across multiple channels but also looking for international avenues to expand sales and increase the value of their business. This might entail setting up separate stores for Amazon US and Amazon UK, for example, as Amazon has different rules and fees for selling in each location.
While Amazon sellers will have payment processing taken care of, tools like Payoneer enable international payment processing in countries unsupported by the big names like Stripe, for those running their own store. Other tools such as L10n can help with translation and localization of your site to cater to international audiences and capture revenue by speaking directly to those customers.
As customer reviews are such a powerful conversion tool, it will be key to ensure that good reviews on one platform (e.g. your Amazon site) are translated over to other potential points of sale, like social media pages and the store’s native website. Finally, another way to optimize efforts across channels is to build promotions and ad campaigns which can be run on multiple sites to reduce the efforts spent on building out separate campaigns.
E-commerce store owners should be aware of challenges with inventory optimization, but temper this with one of the numerous tools, like Cin7, built to resolve this issue. The other hurdle e-commerce business owners often encounter is aggregating analytics for tracking marketing efforts and lead acquisition across stores and points of sale.
Finding the appropriate SaaS tool to track multiple analytics channels–like Salesforce Marketing Cloud–is the best way to create a holistic picture of your marketing strategy, which you can then analyze and use to identify where the highest returns are, and thus where your efforts should be.
If you are currently selling across multiple channels or are thinking about making the plunge, then you should consider getting a helpdesk. Our purpose-built platform allows you to pull all of your marketplace queries and customer support into one single dashboard. This has been shown to dramatically increase your response times and help you consistently meet your SLAs.
With more than 171 million active buyers, it’s clear that eBay is still a popular destination for online shoppers. But this popularity comes with extremely high demands for faster, cheaper shipping options—especially considering the same-day delivery service offered by Amazon, arguably eBay’s biggest competitor.
While eBay sellers should focus on upping their shipping game, there’s more to it than getting from A to B as quickly as possible. It’s worth remembering that two of the four suggested ways to get buyers to leave a detailed rating on eBay concern shipping, dispatching and packing—and successful ratings make for successful sellers.
In this blog, we’ll look at three rock-solid points to keep in mind when shipping on eBay, no matter what size seller you are:
EBay stores come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s no one-size-fits-all framework when it comes to the best shipping option for buyers. That said, eBay offers sellers a “Shipping for me” resource where you can get shipping guidance based on the experience of similar items previously sold in your same category.
If you are new to eBay, this is valuable information to kickstart your own store.
Within this, there are a variety of options that eBay sellers use. The key is here to put yourself in the shoes of the buyer to fully understand what will work as the best option for your store:
Flat-fee shipping: Sellers decide to set one fee for buyers. This type of shipping requires research into similar items shipping cost.
Calculated shipping: Requires sellers to use eBay’s shipping calculator to determine a shipping rate based on the dimensions and weight of package while also taking into account the location of the customer. This way a seller can view each item on a case by case basis.
Local pickup: Perfect for eBay buyers and sellers who live near each other and especially for online stores selling large or fragile items, such as furniture or machinery.
Check out this video which goes through the shipping options for eBay:
Selling on eBay: How to select the right shipping option - YouTube
#2. Don’t overcharge
Each marketplace comes with different regulations and restrictions for shipping and delivery—including eBay. Online sellers will find that extra charges will damage the amount of sales they get. This is due to the psychology behind free shipping and online shoppers’ expectations. Here are a couple of points to remember for shipping fees:
No matter the age or target audience of your online store, everyone loves cheap shipping. Free? Even better. Try and keep it as transparent as possible and don’t surprise your customers with hidden costs.
E-commerce expert Marsha Collier discusses the simplest way to work out your eBay shipping so as to be fair to buyers. It’s important to consider that buyers on eBay are usually categorized as people who like a bargain. This is something we touched on when we compared selling on Amazon vs eBay and Marsha reiterates it in her article. However, if the customer wants it faster, that calls for a higher shipping fee.
The best way to avoid overcharging on eBay shipping is to map out the fees of each product you have. Although this may be a tedious process, the cost of packaging and the location of the customer will be different depending on the case at hand.
#3. Consider packaging, personalization and tracking
Online buyers will analyze every part of a transaction down to the packaging. So don’t just stop making an effort once you receive payment.
Whether you’re a big or small online seller, you must make sure you treat each individual purchase as a separate case. You never know when a particular buyer could be the one person to give you negative feedback—and for something as small as packaging. Here are a few ways to package your products thoroughly:
Don’t overfill a small package: Take a flat mailer for example. They’re made to fit a certain amount of clothing or small items but other than that it would appear to a buyer like you are trying to cut costs by squeezing items into it.
Use eBay branding if possible: If a customer receives a package with branding it will always look more professional than just a plain box.
Include a package slip in the package: If you want to personalize it for your buyers, make the extra effort to include a packing slip to give the reassurance of an exchange or refund. Making the process as easy as possible for the customer will have an impact on their view of the service.
The main point to remember with shipping on eBay is to know who the target audience is. Once you have this information and you follow through on every step of the process, right through to when the package is delivered, you will be guaranteed a satisfied customer.
To keep up with the likes of Amazon, eBay sellers must be clear, thorough and personal to ensure every customer has a great shipping experience.
Leverage a great experience and increase positive feedback on eBay
We have gathered together all of the eye-popping statistics, including our own internal metrics here at xSellco, to bring you a comprehensive overview of the 36-hour sales bonanza.
Now in its fourth year, the event got off to a difficult start. Internet watchdog downdetector.com reported that Amazon’s U.S. site crashed within minutes of its kickoff at 3 pm Eastern Time, likely due to the massive surge in traffic.
Several news sites covered the blip and Bloomberg estimated that the 75 minutes of disrupted service may have cost Amazon $99 million in lost sales.
An image that greeted consumers while Amazon.com was down.
So, how did Amazon actually do? The retail giant is notoriously tight-lipped about exact figures but revealed that Prime Day 2018 beat Cyber Monday and Black Friday to become its biggest ever shopping day.
In fact, CNBC reported that sales for the first 10 hours were up 89 percent over the same period last year, smashing industry predictions of 67 percent, thanks to a larger number of Amazon Prime members (undeterred by the annual fee’s recent increase from $99 to $119), a longer sales window (up six hours from 2017) and four additional countries taking part (making it 17 in total).
It’s difficult to find a consensus among analysts as to the actual amount Amazon made. Some are saying it will have been in the region of $4.2 billion, while others have low-balled it at $2 billion.
Whatever about the massive profits, Prime Day’s primary purpose is to grow membership numbers (which CEO Jeff Bezos revealed back in April were over 100 million strong) and this year’s event was no different, with Amazon claiming that it welcomed more new members on July 16 than on any previous day.
To that end, small and medium-sized businesses made out very well this year. Early estimates put their sales figures well in excess of $1 billion after the first 24 hours, up 28 percent from 2017.
The top-selling non-Amazon products in each of the participating regions are listed below (originally reported here). The expansion into four new countries proved fruitful and it will be interesting to see where Amazon rolls out Prime membership in 2019.
We can see that kitchenware was the big winner across North America, while there was a huge demand for gaming and other technology products elsewhere. The popularity of personal hygiene products and detergents also shows that consumers aren’t only interested in discounted luxury goods.
It was certainly a successful 36 hours for xSellco’s clients, who took advantage of our Repricer to maximize their profit margins and win the Buy Box throughout the event. Unsurprisingly, the most lucrative hours were between 7 pm and 9 pm local time on both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, with consumers clearly waiting until after work to do their shopping.
In terms of support tickets, the most common questions customers had for our clients during Prime Day were in relation to shipping. Shoppers were obviously eager to know when their bargain would arrive. Using our Helpdesk, xSellco’s clients will have been able to answer these queries in a fraction of the time it might otherwise have taken.
How did your business perform during Prime Day 2018? Did the early technical issues affect you? Let us know in the comments.
Amazon uses Prime Day to grow its customer base. For professional sellers who do business on Amazon, the best way to increase your revenue is to consistently get your products in the Buy Box, where over 80 percent of sales happen.
Online merchants have a problem: less than 5 percent of buyers leave Amazon seller feedback after a purchase.
More often than not, it has nothing to do with the quality of customer service received, the condition of the goods they bought or the delivery. The honest truth is that they simply don’t feel strongly enough about the vendors to leave feedback.
It’s been said the Buy Box is responsible for 82 percent of all Amazon sales. The sellers who get that coveted spot are chosen by an algorithm programmed to pick those it believes will offer the best shopping experience—and seller feedback plays a big part in that.
Amazon seller FreestyleXtreme has received 97 percent positive feedback over the past 12 months
As an Amazon seller, a feedback score above 97 percent is essential when competing for the Buy Box, while a poor rating will significantly hurt your chances.
The best way to promote positive feedback—and encourage more of it—is to establish a personal connection with your buyers. According to the Harvard Business Review, the power of engaging with your customers on an emotional level cannot be underestimated:
Emotionally connected customers are worth 52 percent more than those who are “highly satisfied.”
A sense of community and self-discovery are two of the biggest drivers of emotion among millennials.
Customers with an emotional attachment spend up to 200 percent more than others, with a far greater lifetime value.
Here are three ideas that could help you connect with your customers on an emotional level offline so they will ultimately leave feedback that will boost your Amazon seller rating.
#1. Make your packages stand out
Packaging is one area where you have an opportunity to trump your online rivals.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes: honestly, how would you feel opening one of your own packages? If it wouldn’t inspire you to go online and leave stellar feedback then it’s unreasonable to expect a different response from your customer.
Reimagining your packaging doesn’t need to be expensive. You might decide simply to arrange the goods in a more interesting way or place individual items on a bed of fabric that makes them stand out and improves the overall aesthetic. There are plenty of great examples online to inspire you.
If you can create that elusive “wow” moment during the unboxing, then you’ve just taken a massive step toward a more enthusiastic feedback rating. Taking the time to sit down with your team and brainstorm a couple of packaging ideas could have real benefits down the line.
Another factor to take into account is whether your choice of packaging material echoes your company’s core values. Would an eco-friendly delivery box be well-received by your customers? Could your packaging be repurposed instead of thrown away?
If you can turn the unboxing into an enjoyable experience with added value then you also open yourself up to new marketing opportunities. Just search for “unboxing” on Youtube and you’ll find countless channels devoted to the best and worst experiences. On occasion, these videos can even go viral.
#2. Create a real-world experience to engage with your customers
Your sales may come entirely from online channels but that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce an offline element to your customer engagement strategy.
Pop-up shops have become somewhat ubiquitous in recent years. At face-value, they present online retailers with another revenue stream, albeit on a short-term basis, but can also boost brand awareness.
They also offer an opportunity to put a human face to your company and for shoppers to learn about your products firsthand. If you have some room in the budget then there are limitless possibilities for the type of experiences you can create. Shopify has put together an excellent in-depth guide to the whole process, from concept to execution.
Don’t feel that you have to focus solely on a retail venture either. Depending on what you sell, it may feel appropriate to offer your customers a service. Let’s say you specialize in grooming products for men. A pop-up barbershop offering customers a free haircut or shave, with your pomade or skin-care range prominently displayed, could make more sense than a straightforward retail outlet.
Dollar Shave Club recently celebrated its UK launch by giving out free shaves at a pop-up barbershop in London
Or it could be an event that has nothing at all to do with your core products. For example, when U.S. beauty brand Glossier launched in Ireland in May, it invited a limited number of its first Dublin-based customers to a secret dinner to say thanks. This wasn’t a promotion; in fact, customers had no idea about the event until after they made a launch-day purchase.
While it might be unrealistic to invest so heavily in an event that targets so few of your customers, you can still apply the underlying philosophy of it. A larger event, with a much lower cost-per-head, could be just as impactful and still create a sense of exclusivity. You might target cities or regions where sales have been particularly strong, or focus on new markets entirely.
From a marketing point of view, events like these are also incredible opportunities to make a splash on social media, with people only too happy to share their experience with their followers and friends. Beyond that, when these experiences are executed in a genuine spirit of engagement they can have a lasting effect on your customers’ loyalty.
Most shoppers simply don’t understand the realities of operating as an online seller and the unique challenges you face. This includes the Amazon seller feedback system.
Your buyers may not be aware of how vital that feedback is to your future sales. So let them know. Amazon is very upfront about its policy on the solicitation of feedback and actively encourages you to reach out to your customers.
There’s software out there to help automate and optimize this process online, but why not reinforce those efforts offline as well? Of course, you can’t pick up the phone and call the buyers, but you can leave a note inside the package thanking them for their custom and explaining how much a positive rating would mean to you and your business.
Waldo sends a Thank You note and stickers to all its new customers
The immediacy of a written note, or at least a printed message with a handwritten signature, can be hugely impactful. Combined with a better unboxing experience, this could be a powerful one-two combination that inspires your customer to log on and boost your reputation.
Combining your offline efforts with online action
These strategies are best paired with a solid online plan geared toward harvesting more positive feedback. If you can impact your customers offline and make a personal connection, they are going to be more receptive when you reach out to them via email.
But remember, you can’t please everyone. That’s why you should only request feedback on the right products, from the right customers, at the right time—and that’s where xSellco Feedback comes in. Our automated feedback software helps increase your seller rating by sending smart, selective requests that improve your reputation and grow your sales.
When you first start selling online, receiving negative customer feedback can feel like a real kick in the teeth. You’ve put in all the hard work to get the order out but have fallen short of your customer’s expectations and are now worried about your reputation, not to mention how it might affect your metrics.
With experience though, you start to realize that negative customer feedback is just part of selling online and shouldn’t be taken to heart. In fact, if you use it creatively, it can even present you with an opportunity to shine.
#1. Ask your staff for suggestions
When you receive negative customer feedback, your goal should always be to make improvements so that you avoid receiving the same criticism again in the future. Sometimes though, it can be difficult to come up with a solution and you may need to think outside of the box.
Some companies have come up with more creative ideas for asking their staff for suggestions. For example, Amazon has a virtual suggestion box where its staff can submit ideas, while the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK created a gamified app called Idea Street where its staff could leave their suggestions.
However, it can be even easier than that. One idea could be as simple as taking a screenshot of the negative feedback and attaching it to an email asking your staff for their suggestions. Take this feedback for example:
Specifically, with this example, you can discuss with your employees what has been happening in the process to make this customer unhappy again. By doing this, you can choose from a diverse range of ideas, some of which you may never have thought of. You could even make it incentivized and offer a prize for the most actionable suggestion to make sure your team gives it some proper thought.
The best thing about this solution is that it applies to all marketplaces. So, whether you sell on Amazon, eBay or another channel, you can put this method into action.
#2. Create a focus group
When private labelers create a new product, they tend to develop it in phases. They release the first product, gauge the reception and then make changes accordingly.
One creative way to make sure that your second version really is an improvement is to ask the customers that previously left negative feedback to test out the latest iteration. This way, you can be sure that their criticisms have been addressed. For example, you could target an email to the chosen list of customers like this:
In the example above, this is a targeted email using xSellco Feedback. Not only does it show that you’re attentive, but it also appears extremely personal to your customers.
To build your focus group of suitable customers, you need to look at any negative product reviews you received and also check your seller feedback, as product-related comments can often be left there. You’re ideally looking for customers that have left constructive reviews that suggest a way to improve your product. These are some good examples from Amazon and eBay.
Once you’ve found the negative comments and identified who left them, you can then use buyer-seller messaging to ask if they’d be interested in trying your improved product.
As a general best practice, you should make sure to respond to all reviews negative and positive prior to asking for a favor. In particular for negative reviews, write the message from an after-care perspective, apologizing again for their bad experience and explaining that you’ve taken their feedback so seriously that you’ve altered your product. It’s a great way to get them onboard!
#3. Reply to negative customer feedback using videos
When you receive negative customer feedback on Amazon and eBay one of the options you have is to respond to it. Traditionally, this is done with a short, apologetic paragraph that addresses the customer’s complaints and details how they plan to improve.
But, as almost every merchant on Amazon and eBay does this, it can start to sound predictable. Your customers may even become less receptive to it, especially if you’ve made similar replies to negative feedback in the past.
So, how can you make your customer service stand out from the crowd? One option is to respond to negative customer feedback using a short video. In the same way that people say “a picture paints a thousand words” you can imagine that a video goes further beyond this. It allows the customer to see the face behind the business, which can often be hidden in the world of e-commerce.
A study carried out by HubSpot discovered that 72 percent of consumers prefer videos to text marketing. If this is how consumers engage before purchasing, this is definitely the approach to take throughout the support process.
Bear in mind that the video doesn’t have to be too fancy or rehearsed. Just grab your phone, find a suitable place to film it and say all the things that you would have included in a written reply. The only difference is that you’re talking to your customer instead.
When your video is done, upload it to YouTube and then send the link to the customer in question. This may need to be done through buyer-seller messaging on Amazon, as you can only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon. If you need inspiration, then check out this chef who used YouTube videos to respond to bad reviews that his restaurant received on Yelp.
Let's See if we Can't Fix that Experience For Her - YouTube
#4. Look at your competitors’ negative feedback and reviews!
If you’re an eBay or Amazon seller that owns their listing, then your competitors’ negative reviews could be a potential gold mine. Why? Because you can take advantage of their weaknesses and potentially steal their customers.
So, for example, if we look at apple slicers, one product received this negative review:
You could then react by adding bullet points to your product description that address your competitor’s flaws. For example, another apple slicer’s product description reads:
By doing this, you’re going to attract all the customers that left the first listing and are now hunting for a good quality slicer that’s easy to use. You could well get more sales without making radical changes. Just remember, it’s distasteful to completely disregard your competitors, so just use it as a way to boost your own marketplace profile as opposed to publicly shaming them.
The important thing to remember about negative customer feedback is that it is not always a reflection of you as a seller. It could be that the customer has simply had a bad day, or that the delivery man was rude, and the customer has taken it out on you. In these cases, very little can be done to prevent similar feedback being left in the future. But your job is to perfect the touchpoints of the journey that are within your control.
It is also important that you generate as many positive reviews as you can because these will lessen the impact of any negative ones. A nice fit is to use software like xSellco Feedback in tandem with some of the methods in this article. That way, you’re leveraging your positive and negative customer feedback, while also giving your customers a realistic outlook on your online store.