Selling on Amazon has many moving parts. There are dozens of metrics to consider and even more mechanisms at your disposal to monitor, interpret, and improve them.
One of the most important, and often misunderstood, metrics is Best Sellers Rank (BSR) – also referred to as the Amazon Sales Rank. Understanding what this statistic means for you as a seller and how you can use it to boost your sales is critical to maximizing your revenue.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of Amazon’s BSR. Our goal is to demystify it, providing some insight into how it’s calculated and what you can do to improve it.
What is Amazon Sales Rank (BSR)?
Firstly, BSR is a product-level metric; it conveys no information to shoppers about you, the seller. In a nutshell, BSR is an indicator of how well one of your products is performing against other products in the same category.
It’s a popularity metric that’s expressed as a number, with a lower value being better than a higher one. Here’s an example: within the category “Sports & Outdoors,” a certain baseball glove may attain a BSR of #19. This means that it is 19th in the Amazon best sellers list for its product category; there are only 18 products within this sub category selling better than it at the time the calculation was made.
However, that same product may have a different BSR within its subcategories. These values are totally unrelated to the main category’s value. As subcategories get more granular, the same product’s BSR can be higher or lower than in the primary category.
On the topic of “time of calculation,” it’s important to note that BSR for all categories and subcategories is calculated and updated every single hour. We’ll discuss this in greater detail later, but it speaks volumes for the importance that Amazon places on the metric that they would dedicate so much processing resources to BSR. This goes a long way to dispelling the idea that BSR is a meaningless “vanity metric.”
For a buyer, this is very important information because of the social proof it provides. Customers like seeing that a product they’re interested in is popular among other shoppers. It’s also used as a navigational tool so that shoppers can find alternative products within a particular category that is more popular, should that be something that drives their decisions.
Amazon also made the decision not to apply BSR values globally. The site’s various territorial domains each use independent BSR data. So, a product that is the #1 seller on Amazon.com could be #125 on Amazon.co.jp.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that there is no relationship between Amazon Sales Rank and Amazon’s search algorithms. The latter is dependent on keywords, product description content, internal and external traffic, and other factors that are still somewhat hidden from users. Where your product appears in search results is not influenced by its Sales Rank, and vice versa.
How Can I See A Product’s Amazon Sales Rank?
There are a couple of ways you can view sales rank for Amazon products. First, if you go to the Amazon product listing, scroll down to the “Product Information” section, where you’ll see the Best Sellers Rank on Amazon for its main product category, as well as subcategories.
If you want to see which product ranks at the top for certain categories or subcategories, you can go to the “Amazon’s Best Sellers” page. Here you can choose a category and see which product is selling #1, #2, #3 etc in this category.
How is Amazon Sales Rank Calculated?
That’s the million-dollar question – one that is the topic of a vast amount of research and speculation by the Amazon seller community. Unsurprisingly, the exact formula is something that Amazon does their best to keep secret, since a bunch of sellers reverse-engineering it would be seriously harmful to the metric’s integrity.
What’s known for sure is that it’s entirely based on sales figures, both historical and current. If your product sells more than a product in a similar category within an hour, does that mean your product will leapfrog the competing product to achieve a better BSR? Not necessarily. The weight that’s assigned to historical sales figures may prevent this from happening. But it’s still unclear how far back the algorithm goes when looking at past sales and how changes in product prices may influence the change.
What is known, however, is that more recent sales do carry more weight than historical sales. If product A makes 100 more sales than product B in the preceding 24 hours, its BSR will likely be better even if product B made 100 more sales a week earlier.
Understandably, what Amazon is trying to avoid is a scenario where there are drastic and frequent fluctuations in the BSR relationships between competing products. Again, the integrity of the metric is clearly important to them. Having a product go from #133 to #2 simply because an influencer tweeted a link to that seller’s product an hour earlier wouldn’t be good for BSR’s credibility.
Another aspect to bear in mind is that it’s the number of orders that affect the Sales Rank, not the number of units in the order. In a recent test, Jungle Scout found that one order of 30 units had the same impact on the BSR than an order of a single unit.
Amazon wants to see sales figures that consistently show growth over a long period. If this growth outmatches that of products in the same category, expect the BSR to improve.
Why is BSR an Important Metric for Sellers?
Undoubtedly, this is the most important question we’re going to answer in this article. Firstly, as we said earlier, the BSR value conveys a very important message to the customer and definitely improves the product’s chances of being found while browsing the site. The correlation between having a good BSR and better visibility is obvious.
However, sellers often overlook other ways to parse this information into useful knowledge. Let’s take a look at two of these.
1. Expand Your Inventory with the Best Products
As an Amazon seller, it’s likely that you’ll continuously want to expand the items you offer for sale. It makes sense to invest in products that have a higher chance of selling. This also applies if you’re a new seller and you’re looking for your first product to offer. BSR comparisons will help you ensure that you invest in a product that has a high demand.
Amazon’s Best Sellers page offers you the chance to see all the top-selling products in each “department” (as Amazon now calls their top-level categories). Alternatively, Junglescout’s Product Database has a very handy feature that allows you to find products within a specific BSR range.
As a general guideline, sellers tend to pick new products with a Sales Rank below 5000. Some sellers won’t even consider one that has a BSR higher than 2000. The theory being, if a product is already a best seller on Amazon, it will be harder to compete with existing products.
2. Scope Out Your Competitors
If your product is underperforming in the BSR area when compared to other products in very similar categories, it’s fair to say that you may need to look at your listing. Your competition’s better Sales Rank is an indicator that they’re doing something right that you’re overlooking.
Study their listing page, look at their prices, analyze their external link sources. Somehow, they’re positioning their product in a way that has resulted in greater sales velocity and volume than yours. Find out what that is and either emulate it or improve on it.
How to Boost Your Amazon Sales Rank
Improving your Amazon Sales Rank is pretty simple when you think about it – there’s no complicated formula, you just need to sell more products.
That’s easier said than done, however. If selling products online was that easy, we’d all be millionaires already.
Here are a few tips to help you boost your sales rank on Amazon.
1. Follow Listing Best Practices
This may seem obvious, since optimizing your listing page should already be one of your main focuses if you want to generate sales. Nevertheless, since sustainable sales play such an important role in BSR, it bears repeating some of these:
- Make sure your product title is optimized. Include the brand name, the product name, and its features.
- Write a clear and engaging product description. Use HTML formatting to make your content pop.
- Use bullet points for key product features. Online shoppers don’t like wading through oceans of text.
2. Use High-Quality Imagery
Your product gallery takes up a large area of your listing page, and for a good reason. It’s critical that you showcase images that show the product from all angles in a very attractive and enticing way.
This is one of the best opportunities to differentiate your product from your competitors. Using only stock photos provided by the manufacturer is the easy way out, and it won’t help you stand out. Of course, you should adhere to Amazon’s image requirements, but feel free to get creative here. Place the product in a context where it’s being used or certain hidden components of it have been deployed.
When it comes to Amazon product photography, variety plays an essential part, too. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes when creating your product gallery. Ask yourself, “what would they want to see” and provide them with it.
3. Drive External Traffic to Your Listing Page
Zoma Sleep is a great example of a company with a thriving trade on its own digital storefront, but lagging a little behind its competitors in terms of Amazon Sales Rank. Creating blog posts or online advertising campaigns that drive traffic to their Amazon listing as well as their own storefront is an excellent idea.
image source: amazon.com
This tactic is dependent on quite a bit of effort and may not be suitable for products that rank as #1 in a specific category. Take Somnifix as an example. They’re already ranking at #1 for the “Sore reducing aids” sub category. In this case, the company may find that the overhead in driving external traffic to their Amazon listing may not be as valuable as spending time and money on campaigns driving traffic to their own storefront.
image source: amazon.com
4. Ensure Your Pricing is Competitive
This is one of the areas where comparing your listing page against competitors with lower Sales Rank is most helpful. One of your primary goals as an Amazon seller must be to strike a balance between profit and offering competitive prices.
Understand the two different types of pricing on Amazon: the Item Price and the Landed Price. The former is the price that’s shown on your listing page – essentially, the cost of the item itself. The Landing Price refers to the cost of the item, handling, discounts, shipping, and low-price guarantees.
The key to offering the lowest possible price lies in employing a tactic called repricing. This involves undercutting the comparison by the smallest margin possible, usually $0.01. This can be done either manually or using repricing tools like Aura.
Novice Amazon sellers can easily be fooled into thinking that Amazon Sales Rank is a metric used purely for optics. They don’t understand that there are ways to interpret and use Sales Rank data to gain a competitive edge in literally the most competitive online marketplace.
Pay attention to your product’s BSR. Spend time researching your competitors’ Sales Rank and employ tactics that improve it. The higher visibility and credibility it buys you in the eyes of potential customers could be a game-changer for your Amazon sales, and land you on a lucrative Amazon best seller list.
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