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The basics of Amazon sales rank

Whether you sell books, jewelry, cleaning products, or candy, Amazon sales rank is something you should know a bit about. Like most of Amazon’s inner workings, the algorithm that determines sales rank is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Though sellers are usually aware that a bestselling product can equal success on Amazon, the methods for determining sales rank are not so simple. As such, we’ve broken down some information on Amazon sales rank and included some basics for businesses interested in climbing higher to reach their full potential.

What is Amazon’s sales rank?

Browsing Amazon through the search function or on product detail pages is a quick way to discover how Amazon displays sales rank.

Amazon Best Sellers Page

Within each category, you can even have a look at the current best sellers, or sort by these best sellers in browse. Amazon states that these rankings are, “Our most popular products based on sales. Updated hourly.”

While we don’t know all of the specifics of how Amazon calculates this, we can assume a few things. Amazon’s A9 algorithm takes care of creating these rankings, with a complex function that pulls data from Amazon’s catalogue and ranks them based on relevancy. As Amazon always puts the customer first, it’s no surprise this feature tries to maximize revenue from each customer by showing them exactly what they might want and actually buy. High-ranking items will be relevant, have a high conversion rate, and a high level of customer satisfaction.

Amazon Product Information Best Sellers Rank

Products are ranked within the browse structure within each category as far down as they go. For instance, the game of Monopoly (classic) was #98 in Toys & Games overall, but ranking #11 in Board Games (this is a subcategory of Toys & Games) when this screenshot was taken.

What this means:

  • #1 in Category: Means Amazon sells more of this product than anything else.
  • #2 in Category: Means only one product sells better than this product in this category.
  • #50 in Category: Means this product is the 50th best-selling item in this category, with 49 items selling better.
  • And on and on…

Given these examples, sales rank is all about perspective and is all relative depending on your category and how granular you get. Whereas a huge category like Books might have 30 million ASINs in it, a small or more granular category like Cat Flea and Tick Control may only have a hundred items competing for the top spot. As such, being #5 in Books is a lot different than being #5 in Cat Flea and Tick Control. It’s not easy to say what a “good” sales ranking is for any particular product, but businesses can gauge the competition and category size, for a start.

Tips for improving Amazon sales rank

As of 2020, it’s estimated that there are more than 12 million products in Amazon’s own catalog and more than 350 million products for sale on Amazon, including third-party. As of Q4 2019, third-party sales accounted for 53% of paid units sold. Suffice to say, that’s a whole lot of competition. On the most basic level, it’s tough to achieve good results if customers cannot find your products. Some basic steps, planning, and attention can help your products be the best they can be.

Select the correct product category

Amazon bases the sales rank on product category. If customers are browsing and your product is not categorised correctly, it’s not going to surface correctly. As shown in our above screenshot, your product should be in the most granular level possible, which will filter up the browse tree to all applicable levels (Board Games > Games > Toys). The less competitive and smaller the category, the better your rank will be.

Optimise your listings

In order to achieve sales, you should have the best detail pages possible. The basics of SEO-optimized titles, description, and features all apply. A+ Content to pre-empt customer questions, optimised product images, hidden keywords, and good reviews can also all contribute to your conversion rates. Thus, a well optimised and accurate detail page can affect your sales ranking.

Focus on sales

Achieving sales requires competitive pricing and in-stock products. Obviously, you can’t rank #1 in your category if your product is never in stock, and obviously you will not rank high if your competition is priced cheaper at all times. Use FBA to ensure your product is in-stock, and consider things like ads, discounts, and stellar customer service. Your sales history and recency can affect your sales rank and prevent huge fluctuations. For instance, a product you just started advertising externally may receive a boost, but it may not hold that ranking without continued Amazon Advertising investment. Plan accordingly and aim for consistent sales to achieve a stable sales ranking.

Pay attention to promotions and seasonality

Some products will naturally do better in certain seasons. If you sell back-to-school supplies, such as pencils, your sales rank may actually drop during peak periods as the competition (pricing and availability) increases in your category. However, it may be higher in periods where everyone is selling less, if you have planned for long-term consistency and stable sales.

Promotions and deals can also affect your ranking. For example, if you run a  Lightning Deal during Q4 on a pre-lit Christmas tree, your ranking may receive a temporary boost that adjusts as you run out of product or as you reach the end of your peak period.

Keep track of your rankings over time and discern what drives them. Aim for daily sales goals to continually boost your ranking over time.

Get professional help

With so many factors influencing sales rank, it may seem overwhelming to determine a plan to improve yours. eCommerce Nurse is well suited to handle it for you or help with details you might not even know you should be looking after. With proven results from a range of products in many locales, we can assist you with a plan tailored for your business. Whether you need the basics of SEO sorted out, or a full advertising solution to boost sales, contact us to see how we can help.

Katy Luxem

Katy Luxem

Katy Luxem is the content manager for eCommerce Nurse. She has worked for Amazon in both Seattle and London, delivering results for multiple different teams and product lines across the U.S. and Europe. Katy's experience is focused on making sure customers have a best-in-class experience. She enjoys helping businesses and brands succeed and grow with next-level content.

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