"War is ninety percent information."
Understanding BSR (also called sales rank) will make or break your Amazon business. Failure to understand sales rank means:
- You'll tie up money in products that won’t sell but incur storage fees.
- You'll lose money by pricing products incorrectly.
- You'll miss out on opportunities to buy the right amounts of products.
- You'll waste time on products you should have passed.
This article will go over the most important aspects of sales rank and will save you money, make you more money and save you a lot of headaches. And yes, that is a promise. These principles are that important.
What Is Amazon Sales Rank / Amazon BSR?
First, please note that the terms, "Amazon sales rank," AND "Amazon BSR" are interchangeable. BSR stands for "Best Sellers Rank." They both refer to the same thing.
Amazon BSR (Sales Rank) is a number assigned to each product in a given category that ranks the items sales relative
BSR weighs sales recency and historical sales information. It is calculated hourly and there is a 1-3 hour lag time between sales and their impact on BSR.
We don't have the exact formula for how BSR is calculated and that's fine. You just understand that a lower BSR (closer to 1) means a product is selling faster at that exact moment than products with a higher BSR (further from 1).
The BSR only considers sales. The number of reviews, average customer rating or price do not factor into BSR.
Here is BSR in Amazon's words.
The Amazon Best Sellers calculation is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on Amazon.com."
BSR refers to "sales" and not "units."
This is because a sale (one order) of 20 units will have the same impact on BSR as a sale of 1 unit. This is something few sellers realize.
It's important to note that sales rank is not a reflection of lifetime sales and historical popularity.
For example, The Easy Bake Oven has sold over 30 million units since its release in 1963, but you won’t find it in the top 10 sales ranks in the Amazon toys and games category.
At the time of this post, a card game called Skyjo owns the #1 spot. It hasn't sold 30 million units like the Easy Bake Oven, but it holds the #1 spot in the Toys & Games category because it is selling more units more recently.
Here's another example.
The first generation iPad has sold many more times in its lifetime than the latest model, but that doesn't mean that you're more likely to buy the first generation. If you're looking for an iPad on Amazon, you'll see the one most people are buying right now which is usually the latest model.
The BSR of the 1st generation iPad will be much higher (worse) than the latest generation thanks to Amazon's BSR algorithm.
Where Do You Find Sales Rank
A product's BSR is shown on the product details page.
Navigate about halfway down a product page and you'll see a section that looks like this...
You'll see the product's rank in the main category as well as its rank in sub categories.
There are a number of free and paid Chrome extensions that will show you the sales rank of a product on the page.
The example above is a popular tool called RevSeller. The CamelCamelCamel and Keepa extensions are also extremely popular among sellers.
Amazon Sale Rank vs. Amazon Page Rank
Sales rank and page rank are often confused with one another.
While sales rank refers to sales relative to a product category, page rank refers to where Amazon is showing a product on various search terms. This is decided based on many variables such as CTR, bounce rate, conversion rate, reviews and more.
A page rank therefore, is how the product is shown when a certain keyword is entered.
Using BSR to Esimate Units Sold (Sales Velocity)
Thanks to a lot of collected data over the years, BSR (sales rank) can be used by sellers to estimate future sales (sales velocity).
Many sellers create rules of thumb for themselves such as, "if it's under (x rank) in (x category) it sells (x) amount/month." This is fine, but it's important to take several things into consideration.
1. Estimating units sold for a given BSR varies by category
This is pretty simple. A BSR of 1 in toys may sell 10,000 units a month while a BSR of 1 in Grocery may sell 100,000+ units per month.
2. Estimating Sales based on BSR depends on marketplace
A sales rank of 1 in toys & games in the Amazon.Com marketplace will sell almost 10x more units than a sales rank of 1 in toys & games in the Amazon.Ca marketplace.
3. Estimated Sales Is the Total for All Sellers
Don't fall into the mistake of thinking like this: "this product sells 1 per day, so if I buy 10, it will take 10 days to sell."
For this to be true, you will need to own the buy box for all 10 days. If there are a lot of sellers on the listing, you need to understand that that isn't going to be the case most of the time.
4. Free Estimators Aren't Perfect
I'm going to share some free tools for estimating units sold based on sales rank, but you need to understand that they are never going to be perfect. Use them as a reference but always adapt based on your real world experiences.
5. BSR Sub Categories Are Different Than Main Categories
When using any of the free sales estimators, be sure to use the sales rank of the main category and not any of the the sub categories. In the example below, the book is ranked 1,000 BSR but is #1 in a subcategory Language Experience Approach to Teaching. Don't accidentally estimate the sales velocity based on that #1 sub category ranking!
6. Pricing, Seasonality and Supply Influence Sales
Your estimated sales are based on "all things being equal." Therefore, drastic changes can have drastic impacts. If has a BSR of 1 but has been selling at $20, raising the price to $30 will (almost always) lower the total sales. Also, many products see dramatic seasonal trends. The 4th quarter of Amazon impacts almost every category for instance. This is an other reason why these estimators will never be perfect.
Do More Sales Equal a Lower (Better) BSR Ranking?
This is going to sound weird, but no, not necessarily.
Again, BSR is based on relativity to other products in the same category so the BSR changes only if our sales are m .
Think of BSR like a 100 m race and the time you run only matters when compared to your opponents.
You could win the race by running it in 14 seconds if all of your opponents finish in <15 seconds or you could come in last if all of your opponents finished in >14 seconds.
Here's an example in Amazon terms.
You have a product and sell 100 units in one week. Let's say that the BSR (in this example) is now 10.
The next week you sell just 90 units but your BSR goes down (which is an improvement) to 5.
You sold fewer units but improved your sales rank. How?
This just means that the product above you also took dips in sales, but they resulted in them selling less units this week than you did. They sold below 90 so you are relatively selling more at that point in time.
This can go the other direction as well. You could increase sales by 20% and still see a dip in your BSR if your competitors increased sales as well.
Amazon Sales Estimator [Tools for Estimating Sales Rank]
Keepa.com (Website and extension)
Keepa has a massive amount of Amazon sales data. They recently realized they were giving too much for free and started charging a small monthly fee.
CamelCamelCamel (website and extension)
Similar to Keepa, CamelCamelCamel (just “camel” or “CCC” for short) is another free web based and chrome tool that lets your track price and sales history.
Jungle Scout Estimator (web tool)
To use this you need to enter an email address, but it is well worth it.
It is not a perfect tool (like I said, sales rank is not perfect and is relevant to many factors) but it does provide the most accurate estimates I have found.
FBAtoolkit.com (web tool)
When I started selling, I used this a lot. Word started to spread that it was garbage and couldn’t be trusted. You can be the judge. I found it helpful, but like the estimator, it is far from perfect.
Jungle Scout (web app and extension)
The extension is going to allow you to see estimated sales per month, average price and other valuable data from the Amazon website.
The web app doesn’t require you to run from within the Amazon website and can provide you with valuable insight into products and estimated sales.
Tactical Arbitrage Variation Analyzer (paid web tool)
Tactical Arbitrage is a premium tool ($99/month, get a free 10 day trial with code ER10 at checkout) and all uses get access to the product variation analyzer.
This is great because it lets you analyze sales for products with variations (which can be more difficult to understand). The tool uses the number of reviews left for different sizes to show you what sizes and colors people are actually buying of certain items.
While this was once a standalone extension, the feature has been added directly to Tactical Arbitrage. You can now paste an ASIN and see which variations are actually selling. The data isn't perfect since it is based on product reviews, but it is still very helpful. On products with hundreds of reviews, the data is very reliable.
In the example above, the size 11D(M) US shoes are selling the most (according to reviews) and 38.9% of all shoes sold under this ASIN are Black/Onyx/Charcoal.
You must approach products with variations carefully!
More on Sales Rank...
If you want to earn EVERYTHING about sales rank, pricing strategy and demand forecasting, I highly recommend Stephen Smotherman’s book/web course “How to Keepa Camel."