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6 steps to improve your Amazon sales rank in 2021

Amazon's Best Seller Rank (BSR) is a complex algorithm which means there is no single thing you can do to influence it. Here's our multi-faceted approach.
Rael Cline
Last updated:
December 2, 2021

Amazon sales rank, or Best Seller Rank (BSR), shows the relative sales performance of products within a category. Sales rank can be found within the product details section of most (but not all) Amazon product pages. Sellers use sales rank differently to how Buyers use it. Sellers look at it to see how quickly an item will sell on Amazon — the lower the number, the quicker it will sell. 

During economic uncertainty, looking to double-down on high performing products might be a critical step in short-term planning. However, sales rank is a great overall metric for gauging how your product is performing against competitors. It provides a measure of performance independent of search volume. BSR is only dependent on how your sales compare to others in your product category. 

For example, if you have a decrease in sales but maintain or improve your BSR, it indicates that the problem may be a market trend, not your product or ad strategy — another critical piece of context in the current economic climate.  

As with many of Amazon’s algorithm-driven metrics, there is no silver bullet to increase BSR. In general, products that rate highly give shoppers what Amazon demands: detailed product descriptions, high-quality images and videos, competitive pricing and flawless customer service. If you want to improve your BSR, you are going to need to take a multi-pronged approach. But first, let's look at how it’s calculated.  

  • How it’s calculated: The calculation is based on Amazon sales and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item in categories sold on Amazon. Amazon also shows a few of the most popular subcategories in which the item has a high ranking in relation to other items in that subcategory.

So how can you improve your BSR? The first one is obvious, but has to be said.

1. Increase sales

The more you sell, the higher you rank, and also the more likely you are to win the Buy Box — another important step. The key is maximizing your product’s visibility. There are so many products on the marketplace, and buyers don’t have the time to scrutinize every single one. The aim is to make it easy for buyers to find your products.

Here are two specific things you can do to help your case:

  1. Make your products unique: If fewer merchants are selling the same products as you, the competition decreases and it becomes easier to rank well in searches. Bundling products is a creative way to help you do just that. 
  2. Lower your prices briefly: To sell a lot of products quickly, lower your price dramatically for a brief period. Keep monitoring your ACoS and ROI, and make sure you can sustain the price drop.

A word of caution: Amazon may not reflect sales due to promotional giveaways to stop suppliers from creating bogus sales velocity by gaming the system.

2. Win the Buy Box

Getting your products into the Buy Box on the product detail page is the goal of every supplier. If you don’t win the Buy Box, you have the scenario of customers finding your product in a search, and then having to seek out your particular offer. This will not result in as many click-throughs and sales — and your BSR will suffer.

Large brand owners typically don’t have trouble winning the Buy Box for their particular well-known products, but this is a major issue for smaller retailers. 

We have a detailed guide on winning the Buy Box that you should check out. But here are few steps to help:

Price competitively

You have to be, by a margin of 2%, the cheapest listing of your product to be in competition for the Buy Box. Your product “price” includes shipping, so avoid reducing the price of a product and increasing the shipping to make it seem like the lowest offer — it won’t fool Amazon. 

Hone your product information

When all other factors are the same, the product listing with the most complete product information wins out. One of the most important attributes is your title. Use all available space to include the full detail: Product Type/Brand and Description/Product line/Material/Key ingredients.

Work on your product categorization

You may have a low ranking in a broad category, but a higher ranking in a more specific category. You can use this to your advantage. 

Use your five keywords field

Avoid words already in the title. Incorporate other spellings, synonyms, nicknames and related search terms.

Target your ad spend

Being Buy Box ‘eligible’ for your ads doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a Buy Box win when someone clicks on your sponsored post. This means that you can win the bid for the sponsored ad and actually funnel buyers to a listing in which one of your competitors has the Buy Box. If you know the products for which you are already winning the Buy Box, you can target your ad spend specifically on those products and ensure that you get a better ACoS and BSR as a result.

Consider FBA, but ensure fulfillment  

Using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) has been correlated with increased Buy Box wins. This has even been part of ongoing anti-competitive lawsuits against Amazon. With that said, Amazon has consistently said that this is a coincidence, and a byproduct of higher standards of services. The Buy Box algorithm openly favors products with cheaper and faster shipping times, and a history of successful fulfillment. 

This piece of advice, however, may be temporarily outdated in the current climate. There has been significant strain on FBA logistics, and a high percentage of merchant fulfilled orders are currently providing faster delivery times, and winning a higher percentage of the Buy Box. Either way, make sure you keep items in stock, promise quick delivery times, and always follow through on fulfillment promises.  

3. Use third party tools

Amazon isn’t very good at providing historical data to Sellers. Metrics like BSR can provide some great trends if your data goes back far enough. Fortunately, using third-party tools can capture and track improvements and changes. Trends will come to light more easily and you can take a longer-term view on the cause and effects of any changes you make.

Over the long-term, what analytics tools can do is provide in-depth insights that are cross-referenced with persona data and PPC data. By providing an increasingly detailed estimate of what and how many products different buyer personas are likely to buy, machine learning and AI analytics can then be brought to bear to increase your sales by:

  • improving your keyword search term selection
  • increasing your listing’s visibility via solid keyword research
  • optimizing your bids and PPC campaigns on a regular basis
  • enabling you to bid smarter by calculating Customer Lifetime Value 

4. Maintain a positive selling history

Your selling history impacts your search rank and your ability to win the Buy Box. This means delivering quality products on time and keeping customers happy. Here are a few tips to make that happen:

  • Provide efficient, speedy shipping — consider Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
  • Maintain accurate inventory — stock outages are a massive failing as far as Amazon is concerned.
  • Keep your order defect rate, pre-fulfillment cancel rate, and late ship rate low. 
  • Be attentive — respond quickly to customer queries and quickly resolve problems.

5. Get more customer reviews

The more sales you achieve, the more reviews you are likely to get — but the trends compound on itself, and can be challenging to get started. It’s also important to note that customer reviews have to give customers genuine product feedback from fellow shoppers. Amazon has a zero-tolerance policy for any review designed to mislead or manipulate customers. You must ensure that you are staying on the right side of Amazon’s rules. The best thing you can do is to get really familiar with them (check out this link) and not step over the line. Then, take a look at Amazon’s own review offering — Amazon Vine.

Investigate Amazon Vine

According to Amazon, Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers (Vine Voices) on Amazon to post opinions about new products to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. 

Participating Sellers can provide free units of their products to this select group of Vine Voices who will post customer reviews for the products they submit. To participate in Vine, you must be a Professional Seller, have registered a brand in Amazon Brand Registry, and have eligible FBA offers. Once your enrollment is complete, Vine Voices will have the opportunity to request your enrolled products to review. 

You should research what kind of review volume you need in order to rank on the first page — you're looking at around $500 per ASIN to use Vine. Also, Amazon limits the number of ASINs that can be active at one time to five. Each product can receive up to 30 reviews per ASIN. 

Spread Awareness

Although Vine is useful, you should do everything you can to spread the word about why people should be buying from you and not your competitors within Amazon’s ecosystem. Try offering coupons/discounts or running promotions, as this will strengthen your chances of more sales. Encourage people to review your products through your own social media accounts, product listings and follow up emails. 

6. Offer Prime

This one is pretty simple. When 63 million Prime members can filter out non-Prime items, those products won’t have a chance to show up in results. If you are looking to maintain or improve your BSR, that is an audience you simply can’t afford to ignore. To qualify to sell your products under the Prime label, you must be using Amazon FBA and you will need strong Seller Metrics. For anyone looking to succeed on Amazon, becoming Prime eligible should be on your priority list. 

Keep your sales rank in context

Remember, a good sales rank doesn’t guarantee the product will sell in the future, and a bad sales rank doesn’t mean the product will never sell again. Sales rank is an important metric, but it’s one of many. Using analytics tools to monitor both BSR and keyword positions, for example, can show where your keywords are performing well over time and what impact that is having on your sales rank. This won’t, in and of itself, directly lead to more sales. But these are very important KPIs when looked at together. 

Sellers who succeed on Amazon are the ones who become skilled at navigating Amazon's very specific rules and exploiting the data that Amazon provides. If you can play by their "best practice" requirements, then you can look forward to more visibility for your products and the prospect of improved and improving sales ranking. Although short-term wins are fun, ecommerce (like business) is a long-game. Better understand your customers, competitively price quality products and provide real value — and your sales rank will grow over time.

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