Canadian sales on Amazon.ca have exploded in recent years and sellers are taking notice. It’s hard to ignore over a billion dollars in Canadian third-party seller sales in this country alone (more than $2 billion globally). An impressive growth rate of 40 percent YOY confirms that selling on the marketplace is a sound decision.
“30,000 Canada-based third-party sellers from all 13 provinces and territories – many of which are small and medium-sized businesses – grossed more than $1 billion on Amazon.ca in 2019, growing 40% year-over-year, and more than in $2 billion on Amazon stores around the world,” states the 2020 Amazon Canada SMB Impact Report. “45% of SMB sellers use Amazon to sell their products to customers outside of Canada.”
Canadian small-medium businesses (SMBs) averaged $110,000/year in sales on the Amazon.ca marketplace, and the number that surpassed a million dollars grew by an astounding 80 percent!
One of the first challenges Canadian merchants face on the marketplace, is trying to win the Buy Box.
We’ve all used the Amazon Buy Box (previously known as the Featured Offer/Merchant section) to make a purchase. It’s the box on the right of the Product Details page, where you can add the item to your cart. It includes fulfillment information, such as “Sold by _____ and fulfilled by Amazon”.
It’s estimated that over 80% of Amazon sales go through the Buy Box. My experience over the last year or so is closer to 90%. Not all products are eligible for the Buy Box, but if yours is eligible you have to do everything you can to be featured there. Most Amazon.ca sellers are aware of the Buy Box and that they want to be there, but many don’t know how to make it happen.
The good news is, there’s less competition on Amazon.ca. That means you have a better chance of winning the coveted feature placement.
Get Your Product Into the Amazon.ca Buy Box
Amazon does provide Buy Box eligibility information for sellers and hints at their algorithms, but some of the most valuable tips will come from experienced merchants who sell on the marketplace.
The first thing you have to do is be eligible for the Buy Box. Only new products are eligible, and new offers from Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sellers are automatically eligible.
If you don’t use FBA, you must:
- Have a Professional Selling Account.
- Have stellar performance metrics, including a low Order Defect Rate (ODR) and cancellation rate, as well as shipments that arrive on time.
- Have enough orders in that specific category.
- Sell a product that’s eligible for the Buy Box. To check for product eligibility, go to your Manage Inventory page >> Preferences >> Buy Box Eligible >> Save Changes. The items that are eligible will be indicated.
Getting In and Staying In
Being eligible for the Amazon Canada Buy Box is the easy part, especially if you use FBA. You’ll have to work harder and incessantly to increase your chance of winning the Buy Box and staying there.
“The Buy Box winner is selected from the pool of eligible sellers based on, among other things, price, availability and the customer’s shipping address,” states Amazon.
Note that the following tips may help you on other marketplaces as well.
1. Competitive pricing may seem like a normal sales strategy, but on Amazon that number is a moving target. It’s also one of the most important factors in winning the Buy Box.
That’s why most successful sellers use a repricing tool, which automatically uses pricing strategies to keep you competitive 24/7. Make sure the repricer tool you choose will work on the Amazon.ca marketplace, like Seller Republic. It provides continuous & instant repricing, a profit calculator, stock forecasting and analytics for all regional marketplaces on either Amazon or eBay.
That said, don’t lower your prices so much you become unprofitable unless you’re trying to clear out some inventory that isn’t selling. FBA fees can cost more in the long run in that situation. It isn’t always the lowest price that wins the Buy Box.
2. Fulfillment is neck & neck with price in importance, especially for merchants who fulfill their own orders (FBM). The faster you get orders into the hands of your customers, the better. Free shipping will help. Always use Valid Tracking!
3. Make sure you have plenty of inventory of your best selling products. Amazon needs to be sure you’re a reliable source before featuring you. You can use an inventory manager tool to help you create efficient restock plans and streamline your inventory process to avoid selling out.
4. The order defect rate (ODR) factors in a combination of your A-Z Guarantee claims, negative feedback, and service chargebacks. Amazon penalizes sellers with an ODR over 1 percent. If you want to get anywhere in online retail, you have to offer quality products.
5. You’ll need as many great customer ratings as possible. This isn’t easy to do because most people don’t take the time to add a review or rating, and when they do it’s often because they have a complaint. In the beginning, you’ll probably only receive about one rating for every 200 sales.
A bad rating can be changed. If you’re fulfilling orders yourself, try to make it right with the customer and ask them to change their rating. You could replace the product or offer a refund. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who complain in order to get a refund. You have to weigh the cost of refunding or replacing the product against the cost of losing the Buy Box.
6. Offer unique products with little or no competition. The Canadian selection from third-party sellers on Amazon.ca has dwindled and it never was very good. If you can offer something unique to the Canadian marketplace, you’ll consistently find yourself in the Buy Box.
7. Amazon’s products frequently win the battle for the Buy Box, so you should probably avoid specific products that Amazon.ca already sells. You can always sell some products on other online marketplaces if there’s enough demand and less competition.
8. Study sellers in your niche who are in the buy box. You can check out their store and feedback scores to find out what they’re doing right, and scour their reviews for new product ideas. Try global markets too. If they can grab the Buy Box in a more competitive market like the US, they must be doing something right.
9. Some things may be beyond your control, such as the maturity of your store. The fastest way to compensate for being a new seller is to use FBA. It provides enough assurance of your reliability to override algorithms that may count against you at first. FBA also provides a workaround for customer proximity, since the location of the merchant doesn’t impact delivery.
10. It’s getting more and more difficult for Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) sellers to get into the Buy Box. In my opinion, it’s only going to get more difficult. If you can make FBA work for your products, it’s something you should seriously consider. Another option, Seller-Fulfilled Prime, may open up to Canadians again eventually but they’re not enrolling new sellers at the time of this writing.
11. Staying in the Buy Box is a never-ending challenge that can take a lot of time and effort. Tools that automate any part of the repricing or inventory process will pay for themselves many times over.
12. Amazon is constantly evolving and the resulting changes can have a major impact on your sales, be they from the Buy Box or otherwise. Follow them closely and always read their emails!
Winning the Amazon.ca Buy Box can certainly be intimidating and sometimes frustrating. However, your chances are better on the Amazon Canada marketplace…at least for now.
You may also be interested in reading:
Most Amazon Sellers Enjoying Higher Sales in 2021
Do You Have Enough Time and Money to Start Selling on Amazon?
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In 25 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available on Amazon.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.