No matter how you slice and dice it, the exact secrets to Amazon’s algorithms will generally remain, well, secret!

One that concerns sellers is that of Best Sellers Rank (BSR). We’re competing to improve that number and to get our products into the buy box, but what does all of this really mean? Should we be worried about it?

Most importantly for sellers, it’s about your bottom line. Will BSR impact how many sales you make and your success overall? Let’s take a look:

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What is Best Sellers Rank?

Best Sellers Rank (BSR) is a ranking of how an individual product is doing against other similar items. These rankings form best seller lists for categories and subcategories which give buyers a clearer idea of popularity outside the main Amazon Best Sellers List.

The BSR of a product in its applicable subcategories can be found under “product details” on the product page, as seen below:

How is BSR calculated?

BSR is calculated based on number of sales of the product over a given period of time, as compared to other products in the category or subcategory. Amazon updates rankings hourly as a reflection both of recent and historic sales of the product.

That’s really it.

There seem to be all sorts of myths floating about, suggesting that things like price, reviews or keywords are taken into account with BSR. That’s simply not true, BUT those are all factors which can impact the number of sales you make, therefore they do indirectly affect BSR.

Is BSR really important?

There are a few ways to approach this question. First of all, let’s start with the customer: will the customer make a purchasing decision based on the BSR of your product? Honestly, it’s unlikely that they’ll even take that into account – would you be focusing on that “product detail” box as a customer? Perhaps they’ll notice if the product is in the high thousands for BSR, but it’s more likely that’s something another seller would notice.

We know that customers will place heavy importance on the reviews for the product, as more than 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision. This means they’re probably scrolling right past that BSR and down to the review section.

One thing to also note is that BSR includes all sales, which means that even “free” sales of Kindle books count. Authors commonly use the giveaway tactic to boost their profiles, but that BSR boost in itself certainly isn’t improving their financial gains.

The same could be said for an increase in sales if you run some kind of promotional discount. Your run of extra sales might help to boost that BSR, but the discount may mean that it’s not doing a lot for your bottom line.

BSR might be an indicator of the health of your product, particularly if you see it improve over time. This will usually go along with more reviews, competitive pricing and maintaining an account status in good standing with Amazon, all of which play a role in winning that Buy Box (something important in order to be visible to the customer).

Another thing BSR can be good for is when you’re trying to make decisions about stocking new products. Looking at the BSR of similar products can help give you an indication of how many units they are selling each month, a factor that is used in Jungle Scout’s sales estimator. In this case, though, it’s other people’s sales rank that is of value to you, rather than your own.

What about those offers to improve BSR?

Sometimes we’ll see sellers getting excited about the idea of improving BSR, having received an offer of promotional services for that purpose. If improving BSR is the sole purpose of the promotion, you’re probably wasting your money.

The crux of the deal is usually to run a promotion offering heavy discounts on your product. Of course your BSR should improve by drawing more sales, however, you just offered that product at a discount – you’ve probably made a very small margin, if any at all.

Once the promotion is over, you’ve got a higher BSR, but that in itself is not going to drive future sales.

When might these promotional services be valid? One good reason would be if you want to drive more reviews for your product to improve against competitors. Overall, your sales depend on good reviews and visibility to customers (that is, ranking well in search and/or winning the buy box), neither of which are impacted by BSR.

What is important for sellers?

You could look at BSR as a symptom rather than a cure. It can be a good marker to let you know how you’re doing over time, but what really matters is that you’re improving your overall sales and hitting your financial targets.

BSR is mainly a vanity metric – you might be #1 in a subcategory, but what if it’s a tiny category with very few sales?

An important point for sellers is not to get too caught up in BSR because there are other, better metrics that are more important. For example:

  • Your organic ranking for keyword searches on Amazon. There are more product searches starting on Amazon than on Google, so it’s important for you to rank well for relevant keywords.
  • Your success rate holding the buy box (buy box percentage). This is important because 82% of sales on Amazon.com go through the buy box, while this figure is even higher on the mobile app.
  • The number and quality of product reviews you are getting. As stated earlier, reviews are important because customers use them to make buying decisions. On Amazon, there’s another good reason that they’re vital and that’s because they help inform the A9 algorithm that is responsible for search results. In other words, positive signs of customer satisfaction help to improve your search ranking.
  • Your performance metrics. These help influence whether or not you hold the buy box. You might be an FBA seller with the cheapest price, but it’s possible for your overall performance to keep you out of the buy box.
  • Your pricing. It’s important to have a handle on your pricing strategy because this is also a known factor in holding the buy box. This means monitoring and adjusting as necessary, possibly using an automated repricing solution if needed.
  • Your financial metrics. Reaching your financial goals and maintaining healthy metrics will be the bottom line that says whether or not you stay in business. Your BSR could be 10,000 or more, but will that really matter if you’re nailing your financial targets?

As you can see, there is plenty of work to be done in managing metrics that matter more than BSR!

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Final thoughts

To get back to those questions we asked at the beginning:

  • What does BSR mean? It’s a measure of your sales velocity compared to others in the same category.
  • Will a boost in BSR also increase your future sales? No.
  • Should we be worried about BSR? Not really!

While BSR is a nice, vanity metric to have (it’s kind of cool to see your product suddenly jump to a much lower number!), it doesn’t give a good indication of overall performance and it certainly doesn’t impact your bottom line.

You might use other seller’s BSR while researching the possibilities of a new product, but this is just a tool to give you an indication of their monthly sales.

Make sure you’re monitoring metrics that really matter to your overall performance and don’t get too caught up in BSR!

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