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Dec 01, 2020
Superlatives just feel good. The best seller, the most popular, the newest model — whatever it is you’re “best at”, rest in the sweet satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made it to the top.
The Amazon Best Seller Badge, that orange ribbon-like icon in the top left of a product’s picture, not only makes you feel good, but it also helps you sell better. Shoppers love it and Amazon will reward you with better rankings when you’ve got it.
Oooooh. It’s so shiny. Want to see it in action?
Wow, that’s nice. Now let’s work on getting you that coveted “best” label.
In order to become the top seller, you need to understand what the Amazon Best Seller is, and what I call the Amazon Best Seller Badge 3Cs:
The way to get an Amazon Best Seller badge is by selling the most products within your category over time.
The Amazon Best Seller badge is precisely that: an icon displayed in the search results and on the product detail pages for items that are the best sellers in a category. Originally, Amazon displayed the badge only for the #1 best seller in a category, but now several products in a single category can carry the badge simultaneously.
In general, there are 100 best sellers in any category. The broader a category (e.g., a category such as “Pet Supplies”), the more competition is in the 100 bestsellers. The more specific the sub-category (e.g., “Knots, Macrame & Rope Work Craft Books), the less diversity and competition.
In some sub-categories, there may not even be 100 bestsellers because the category is so slender. Needless to say, getting your product to be a best seller in “Toys and Games” is a different endeavor (and achievement) than getting your product to be a best seller in “Traditional British & Celtic Digital Folk Songs.” However, being amongst the top sellers in either category will get you the same Amazon Best Seller badge.
By Amazon’s own definition, the best seller badge seems pretty straight forward. Unlike most Amazon explanations, the definition of Amazon Best Sellers is clear. However, like most things on Amazon, even the clearest explanation can have multiple implications.
Our most popular products based on sales. Updated hourly.
Notice that bestsellers are updated hourly (sometimes there’s a lag of an hour or two), which means that the badge is up for grabs 24 times a day. It also means that if you have the badge for one hour, you can lose it the next hour. When a product loses best-seller status, be it after one hour or one month, the Amazon Best Seller badge is gone unless the product regains the spot.
By now, all sellers know that they are likely to sell more — and to sell more at a faster pace — by being 1P wholesale vendors who sell large quantities directly to Amazon. With vendors, Amazon is able to sell to consumers at low prices. You can also sell tons as a 3P brand-registered seller if you use FBA.
Basically, Amazon rewards sellers when they do all of the things that make business on Amazon easier and more profitable. You can read all about how to turn the gears of the Amazon flywheel, in our updated guide, How to Sell on Amazon. In a nutshell, you scratch Amazon’s back, they scratch yours.
If you are a 1P wholesale vendor or a 3P brand-registered seller with FBA, that you are in good shape. Now, you’ve got to consider the three Cs of being a top-notch seller: Competition, Calculation, and Category.
You can’t beat Amazon at their own game.
If your numbers (prices, account health, shipping speed, ratings, etc.) are in good shape and your Amazon listings are optimized, you are well-positioned to compete. Lower prices and “Sold by Amazon” or “Fulfilled by Amazon” are all green lights and confidence boosters for buyers, and all increase your chances of winning the Buy Box as well as ranking higher in search results.
But remember: there is one seller with whom you cannot really compete and win: Amazon itself.
If Amazon has a private label offering, that product will naturally be “Amazon’s Choice” in the category. It will also likely be low priced and it will certainly be fulfilled by Amazon.
Amazon’s Choice + low prices + FBA = Amazon Best Seller Badge.
You can’t win in a category where Amazon’s products have the trifecta of low prices, FBA, and Amazon’s choice.
If Amazon doesn’t own the category (like they do with many categories), competing hard can win good rankings and even (gasp) the best seller badge.
If you do win the badge, congratulations! Do take notice (and perhaps a screenshot) because the best-sellers are updated hourly. Once another product sells better than yours, the badge goes away and another product in the category beats yours.
In short, yes, you can have a best seller badge for an hour and then lose it — all without even knowing that it happened. And once the badge is gone, it’s gone. Unless your product reclaims the position from square one. Sadly, there is no badge for “Once was a Best Seller”.
So there’s getting it and there’s keeping it, which, much like the getting and keeping the Buy Box, are entirely different things.
Amazon Best Seller Badge = Amazon’s Choice + low prices + FBA
Amazon’s criteria for determining a best seller is based on sales, but what does that really mean?
Not all categories are created equal.
There’s definitely more prestige, placement, and sales power in having the best seller in “Books” versus having the best seller in “Industrial & Scientific Lab Autoradiography Supplies.” Clearly, there is more competition for “Book” than “Industrial & Scientific Lab Autoradiography Supplies.”
It is infinitely easier to achieve best-seller status in a small-niche super-specific subcategory such as “Cat Leashes” than it is to achieve such in a larger subcategory of “Cat Collars, Harnesses & Leashes” or the even-larger category “Cats” or the much-larger (and infinitely more competitive) category of “Pet Supplies.”
So in this case (as in all product listings), if you are the purveyor of a cat leash and you are pursuing that best-seller spot, you would definitely want to list your product in “Cat Leashes.” “Cat Leashes” is the most-targeted category because shoppers looking for cat leashes who ended up here would be more likely to convert than other shoppers. “Cat Leashes” is also the least-populated category.
You would also want to list in more-general categories so that your product might be found more easily by someone browsing at a higher level of the category tree (rather, the CAT-egory tree).
Since most shoppers do not browse by category but instead search by inputting keywords, it behooves sellers to get granular with their categories. If you want to achieve best-seller status, but not necessarily if you wish to be found by browsers, then get as specific as possible. But as with everything on Amazon, it’s a delicate balancing act.
Don’t list a product in a vaguely connected category.
Knowing how Amazon categories work will tempt you to pursue best-seller status by listing in a vaguely connected small category.
For example, COVID-19 created stunning demand for face masks of all sorts. The seller of the product shown below has listed a face mask in the category of “Tools & Home Improvement.” While one might wear a face mask while sawing new boards for a DIY deck project, it’s a stretch to say that the product is a right fit in the “Tools & Home Improvement” category.
However, the seller put it there and got the top spot and the badge in that category — but not by selling to browsers of that category, rather by selling a relatively inexpensive pandemic-related necessity in a category where there are expensive power tools. The item would be a truer fit in “Medical Supplies & Equipment,” but it faces much more competition there.
And the strategy worked, for a moment. But category stretching is not a solid tactic for the following reasons.
There is no doubt that the Amazon Best Seller badge has visual appeal and carries weight with customers. Now that it appears in search results as well as on detail pages, it is an even more coveted pledge. However, the badge can last for just a single hour, so the Amazon Best Seller badge may appeal more to seller ego than it does to buyers.
Don’t be distracted by shiny objects. You’re not a raccoon, you’re an Amazon seller trying to run a successful business. Work on doing the things that make your product a legitimate sustainable top-ranking best seller in its legitimate category. Don’t sweat getting the badge or holding onto it. That will happen when you really are #1.
Keep your eyes on the real prizes: sales, ranking, rating, brand recognition, and customer satisfaction and loyalty. If the badge follows, all the better, but it’s not what really matters.
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