When a buyer performs a product search on Amazon and clicks on a product link, the page that comes up is called the buy box. Most products on Amazon are offered by several sellers. The featured seller in the buy box is typically the one with the lowest price offer. Getting the buy box is important because Amazon says that over 75% of non-media sales come from items featured in the buy box.
Note that when Amazon compares pricing between sellers it uses a plus or minus 2% factor. Any price including shipping that is within that range is considered to be the same price.
So, one way to win the buy box is to be the lowest price seller, but that is my least favorite way. The other way to win the buy box is to be the only seller of an item. If you are the only seller, then you win the buy box every time.
There are two ways to be the only seller. You can find a product no one else has and negotiate an arrangement with the supplier whereby you are the exclusive seller on Amazon. I have done this with three different products I currently sell. The other way is to create a unique product bundle. Here is an example:
I noticed that canned Octopus was a pretty good seller on Amazon, and that different sellers were selling it for approximately $12 a can including shipping (yes - people do buy, and eat, canned Octopus). So all I did was create a 2-Pack and sell them for $24.99.
That is probably the simplest strategy - just change the quantity. I do this with a number of products including hot sauce:
Another way, and probably the best way, to create unique items are to bundle related items together. Here is an example of a Brie Baker bundled with a wire rack and a package of Brie Topping:
Here is another example. I was selling these automatic salt and pepper mills separately and was competing with Amazon, which buys them from the same company I did. At first, I combined them into a set. That worked for quite a while and then Amazon saw what I was doing, copied my set, and started under pricing me.
"OK," I thought. "What goes with a salt mill and a pepper mill? Well, salt and pepper, of course."
So I simple added a jar of Brazilian sea salt and Tellicherry pepper to the set and bingo - I once again had a unique item. I have been selling this set for over a year now and so far Amazon has not copied me. (I sold three-dozen sets over the Christmas selling season and have more on order).
A very simple way to bundle items is to put a book or DVD with an item. For example, let's say you were selling a pasta machine. Just create a bundle of a book about making pasta with the machine.
Note: Amazon has a policy about bundling media products. You can bundle a book or DVD to a physical product and list it in the proper category of the main product, but you may not bundle two media products or list bundled products in any media category. So if you added a book about making pasta to the pasta machine, you can only list it in the Home and Kitchen category - not the books category. Also, it must be an actual book or DVD. Amazon does not permit you to bundle eBooks, including Kindle versions of a book.
Packaging Bundled Items
If you are merchant-fulfilling, you can simply combine the bundled items in the shipping box when you ship. But if you use Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), then you need to pre-bundle the products together so they are handled as one product. Here are a couple of images that show how we do this. The first image is two bottles of hot sauce and the bottom one is our Brie Baker with the wire rack and topping.
As you can see, this is not very attractive, but it does work. You could of course invest in a properly sized box, and I would do that for large quantities, but we tend to ship items like this to Amazon in lots of about a dozen - not hundreds. With glass products like the hot sauce, we use plenty of bubble pak, since not all warehouse workers handle items like this carefully.
Here is a photo of our Salt & Pepper mill sets before and after we package them up:
Bundling for Profits
Besides winning the buy box, which will increase your sales, there is also a profit advantage to bundling if you are using Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA). Bundling increases the price of a product. Amazon sells one individual salt mill for $22.95. If I want to win the buy box, I would have to sell at that price. Some of the FBA Fees such as the pick & pack fee and the order-handling fee are fixed fees of $1.00 each. With FBA and selling fees your total is $6.71. The net on the single mill is $16.24, which means your fees are 29% of your selling price.
Now let's look at our bundled set. I sell the bundled set for $89.95. Amazon selling fees and FBA fees come to $16.68. When you do the math your selling and FBA fees are only 18.5% of your selling price versus the 29% on the lower priced item. Not only are your profits larger in dollars, they are also larger as a percent of your selling price.
So give bundling a try. Yes, it's a bit more work, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how profitable this can be.