Amazon best seller rank

December 11

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What You Need to Know about Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR)

By Carol J. Dunlop

Last Updated December 11, 2019



"War is ninety percent information."

-Napoleon Bonaparte

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If you sell on Amazon, understanding how Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR) works is critical to your success. Whether you buy other people's products to sell or manufacture your own, you need to understand BSR inside and out.

  • 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.

  • In this post, I’ll explain what Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR) is, how it’s calculated, and how it figures into getting more sales.

    What is Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR)?

    The BSR, also known as “sales rank,” is a number assigned to each product in Amazon’s database. The ranking represents recent sales volume for the product. Each department, as well as each category, have their own best seller ranking system. The BSR is given to each product based on the product’s orders compared to other products in the same category, within a specific amount of time.

    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.

    Amazon logo

    "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.

    Premier model easy bake oven

    Easy Bake oven may be the most popular selling toy of all time, but you won't find it at the top of Amazon categories right now.

    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...

    where to find sales rank

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank is found on the product details section of the products page.

    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.

    There are a number of free and paid Chrome extensions that will show you the sales rank of a product on the page. 

    3rd party tools like RevSeller can make the sales rank more prominent on any Amazon page.

    The example above is a popular tool called RevSeller. The CamelCamelCamel and Keepa extensions are also extremely popular among sellers.

    What is Amazon Best Sellars Rank

    You can see the BSR of a product in the product details section. The lower your BSR number, the higher your rank. A BSR rank of #1 means that the product has sold more units than any other product in that category in that time period

    Finding the Amazon Best Sellers Rank

    How is Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR) Calculated?

    BSR is a snapshot in time, one hour of time, to be exact.

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank 24 hour span

    The BSR is calculated based on the sale of a particular product in one hour. The ranking also takes into consideration the current sales of that product, along with the sales history. A #1 ranking means that product has sold more units than any other product, in that same category, within that hour.

    The ranking of a product can be different in different Amazon marketplaces. A BSR of #5 on Amazon.com might be #50 in Amazon.ca.

    Amazon Best Seller Rank in different marketplaces

    The BSR only takes recent sales into account, nothing else like; product reviews or rating, price or total cart size. BSR is based only on the number of units recently

    It is NOT an indicator of the total number that have sold all time. Amazon relies on recency because it's a much better indicator of what you'll buy right now. 

    Amazon Sales Rank

    The first generation iPad has sold many more units in its lifetime than the latest model has, but that doesn't mean that you're more likely to buy the first generation. If you're looking for an iPad, you will see the one most people are buying right now which is usually the latest model.

    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. 

    Tools like Helium10Viral Launch and JungleScout work to help sellers understand page rank and boost their products for the most profitable search terms.

    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.

    Amazon.com vs Amazon.ca

    Different marketplaces will sell different amounts of units for the same BSR. Canada's top toy product sells almost 1/10th of the amount of the US marketplaces top toy.

    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!

    Amazon sub-category sales rank

    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.

    BSR is based on relativity to other products in the same category. 

    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

    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.

    How to read keepa graph

    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.

     Sales per category Amazon

    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.

    FBA Toolkit

    FBA Toolkit is far from perfect, but worth checking.

    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.

    2016-12-16_16-59-19

    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. 

    Tactical Arbitrage Product Analysis

    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!

    How to Improve Your BSR and Sales

    Now that you know the truth about BSR, using these strategies will increase your BSR and sales.

    If you want to learn EVERYTHING about sales rank, pricing strategy and demand forecasting, I highly recommend Stephen Smotherman’s book/web course “How to Keepa Camel."

    About the author

    Carol J. Dunlop is an Amazon #1 International Best-selling author for her book, UN-Market Your Business; 10 Ways for Savvy Entrepreneurs to Stand Out, Stop Struggling, and Start Profiting. Carol is known as “The Online WOW! Strategist.” She teaches entrepreneurs to convert marketing into money so they can find and perfect the marketing strategy they love to get more clients and live the life they want. Carol’s clients hail from cities across the U.S.A., the U.K., and Australia.

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