In the world of Amazon sellers, two little words can make all the difference between a customer scrolling away to a new product or clicking that “Buy Now” button. Yes, “Best Seller” tags play a big role in the Amazon marketplace.
But how does Amazon determine which seller should earn the coveted orange banner? Enter the BSR scoring system, otherwise known as Best Sellers Rank.
While this metric can be an important factor in advancing click-through, seller reputation, and, ultimately, conversion, the BSR grading system is a touch more complicated than you might think. In this guide, we’ll crack the BSR code and outline the best strategy for keeping your sales rank steady, while also seeing big improvements in your standing as an Amazon seller.
What Is BSR?
In its most distilled essence, BSR (also referred to as “Amazon sales rank”) is a way of organizing and assessing how well a product is selling compared to others in the same categories and sub-categories.
Different from Amazon IPI, you should understand that with BSR, a lower score is always better. A product may receive a BSR anywhere between 1 (the best possible BSR) and 1,000,000 (the grimmest).
Because BSR is largely an organizing mechanism geared towards users, even products that get a single sale will get a score. So, if only one person bought the Snoopy nutcracker from your holiday store’s Peanuts Christmas range, Snoopy will still receive a BSR (as he should).
BSR vs Organic Ranking: What’s The Difference?
BSR is a relative metric—it compares a single product to other items in the same product category.
By contrast, “organic ranking” refers to where a given listing appears during the user’s search process. Organic ranking is influenced by:
- Your product’s price compared with competing products,
- Whether your product is in-stock,
- The findability of your product title and product description,
- And the rate at which the product is selling (or sales velocity).
As a result, your BSR can influence your product’s organic ranking on the Amazon marketplace.
Where To Find Your BSR
There are three places where sellers can view a product’s BSR:
- On the product listing,
- On Seller Central,
- And on Amazon’s Best Sellers page, by navigating to the product’s subcategory.
You’ll quickly discover that there is a huge selection of sub-categories on Amazon. Amazon also refers to these as “child” categories to the broader “parent” categories. For instance, the child category “Snow Globes” would belong to the parent category “Home & Kitchen.”
This is important because the family of products your goods belong to can act as a huge factor in determining the item’s BSR. How? Think of it like a cookie-decorating competition. If it’s just you competing against a few contestants, you’ll have a better shot at the trophy. But, if it’s a nationwide contest? You’ll have a tougher time battling your way to the top.
To put it simply: the smaller the pool of competitors, the likelier you are to earn a better spot as an Amazon seller.
How BSR Is Determined
On the surface, BSR seems relatively straightforward: the more people who purchase your snow globe to cultivate a child-like sense of wonder, the lower your snow globe’s BSR will be. Right?
Like so much else about selling on Amazon, it tends to be a little more complicated than that. To demystify how products are ranked, let’s break down the two main components of Amazon BSR, then dig into a few other elements that factor in.
#1 Recent Sales
Recent conversions are the most decisive factor in measuring BSR.
Recent sales indicate a products’ sales momentum or sales velocity. This means that while Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe’s tree toppers may have a solid standing in the Christmas Ornaments subcategory, you can still outshine it with your own explosively popular line of newly minted cat-themed ornaments, even if you’ve just broken into the business.
This is because Amazon tends to assume that the rate at which a product is being purchased is a rich indicator of its sales potential. Popular products get a BSR boost to:
- Communicate the popularity of the item to customers,
- Increase the item’s visibility and discoverability in a given category,
- And ultimately drive more sales.
So, if you listed a Christmas-themed flatware collection in your holiday décor store a few years back, you may see a significant improvement in that product’s BSR every December. Bear in mind that if you’re an international FBA seller, you’ll receive a separate ranking for each country you do business in.1 So, even if your cat ornaments are selling like hotcakes in the U.S., their BSR may not be as robust on Amazon Japan.
#2 Past Sales
While recent sales matter the most, BSR is ultimately a combination of recent and historical sales data.
BSR is the most temperamental when it comes to products that have just been released, while mainstays in the Amazon marketplace may have a mid-tier BSR if their sales remain solid, steady, and reliable. This is why BSR isn’t necessarily the most accurate reflection of your business’s overall health and potential longevity.
While BSR is primarily a descriptive metric, it can also act as a self-fulfilling prophecy for businesses: since best-selling products get the most visibility in the Amazon marketplace, an impressive BSR can also accelerate (or depress) your sales. As such, it’s a metric you’ll want to pay attention to if you want to maintain and grow your FBA business.
BSR: Things To Know, And Some Caveats
The main reason BSR is important for Amazon FBA sellers is that it can be a major determinant in how visible your product is to online users.
However, there are some elements of BSR that are misleading:
BSR does not reflect total sales – BSR is a kind of popularity contest: it portrays the number of orders a product achieves, not how much of the product was actually sold. That means that 100 people buying a single set of rainbow string lights will factor more into your BSR than one wealthy Christmas enthusiast who buys 100 units to set their mansion aglow.
Algorithms play a role, too – Amazon has stayed mum about the details, but we do know that at least part of BSRs is artificial. In some measure, Amazon algorithmically predicts the products it expects to do the best to drive customers to newer products. 2So, if a product sold extraordinarily well in its lifetime, it won’t always compete with a newer model in terms of BSR. This is an important factor to consider when determining what products to sell on Amazon FBA.
Labels matter – If two products share a BSR but exist in two entirely different subcategories, you won’t be able to tell much about how many orders they actually drew. That means that while your chihuahua caplet is in position #11 in the subcategory “Dog Cold Weather Coats,” it may have actually converted more customers than the #1 best-seller in Gerbil Mittens & Gloves.
The last important thing to note is that BSR has a remarkably quick turnaround—both a blessing and a curse. Amazon recalculates the rankings every hour, so it’s normal to see marked fluctuations in your score. This volatility is partly why BSR is known as a “vanity metric,” and one of the reasons why it’s not necessarily the best gauge of your business’s vitality.
On the whole, keeping up your BSR score requires a combination of a steady influx of new sales and a solid foundation of prior ones. Consistency, as usual, is key.
How To Boost Your Amazon BSR
Any FBA seller would quickly go stir crazy hitting the refresh button on Seller Central trying to monitor their BSRs in real-time—and over-privileging BSR is neither sustainable nor the key to profits.
Instead, the best approach for cultivating consistent sales (and BSR boosts) is to hone your long-term strategy in three steps.
Step 1: Know Your Algorithm
Amazon recently upgraded its A9 search algorithm to A10, switching the dice on some sellers’ visibility in the marketplace.
With this new formula, the following are factors are privileged in matching users to the item they’re looking for:
Customer search history – While A9 drew shoppers to items predicted to make major sales, A10 is more interested in anticipating and meeting customer demand. Shoppers’ previous searches play more heavily into A10 than former iterations.3
Seller authority – Reputation matters more with A10. This may be reflected in a strong sales history, but seller authority is also a matter of positive customer reviews.
Product versatility – Amazon now accounts for how many potential needs your product listing can meet across categories, and not just in a single department.
Though you can’t control everything about the traffic your listings attract, making your product more discoverable is foundational to boosting BSR. If you haven’t already incorporated keywords and SEO into your selling strategy to improve search results, now is the time to start.
Step 2: Cultivate seller authority
Seller authority is predominantly a matter of five elements:
- How long your business has operated on Amazon
- Feedback rating
- Customer and product reviews
- Current and historical sales performance
- Breadth of listings
Along those lines, A10 is more favorable to consistent, reliable sellers rather than those with heady, meteoric popularity with a short lifespan. Because of this, building a relationship with customers is one of the most important factors in seeing an advancement in your BSR.
The more you demonstrate an ability to fulfill their needs—which includes your product itself and their experience of delivery—the better your standing in Amazon’s book.
Step 3: Streamline Customer Experience
As the transition to A10 proves, customer experience is at the heart of Amazon’s business model. In fact, customer need is one of the main reasons BSR exists—not so much as an assessment tool for Sellers, but as an assist to shoppers.4
Along those lines, your priority as an FBA business should be to create the conditions for the most successful customer experience as possible. This means:
- Keeping prices competitive, since Amazon’s algorithm tends to phase out high prices if their competitors’ are lower,
- Maintaining a balanced, Goldilocks-style inventory that can meet demand without absorbing too much space in Amazon’s warehouse,
- And ensuring that your customers receive their orders with speed, care, and unblemished consistency.
Improve Your BSR With Zee
While shipping isn’t the most glamorous aspect of getting a gold-star BSR, it is unequivocally one of the most foundational factors to ensuring customer satisfaction and shoring up your rankings.
To ensure a smooth transit from your hands to your international buyers’, you’ll need a shipping partner that covers all the bases for you. Zee is an Importer Of Record with uncompromising dedication to:
#2 Responding promptly to stuck shipments, customs clearance, or any shipping headaches as they arise,
#3 And trimming your margins on the shipping process so that you don’t waste profits—and can earn back on your tax returns—with the expertise to save you money from the get-go.
Working with the e-commerce megalith on fulfillment, you’re already positioned to yield a 30-40% booster in sales—but even so, the competition is fierce.5 To succeed, you’ll need a shipping partner that can lay the groundwork for a BSR that withstands the fluctuations of Amazon marketplace. For the right shipping sidekick, look no further than Zee.
- Linnworks. Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR): Definition & Tips For Improvement. https://www.linnworks.com/blog/amazon-best-sellers-rank-bsr
- Tinuiti. What You Should Know About Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR). https://tinuiti.com/blog/amazon/amazon-best-sellers-rank/
- Repricer. Amazon A10 Algorithm: Everything You Wanted to Know (2021). https://blog.repricer.com/resources/amazon-a10-algorithm/
- Seller Central. Sales Rank FAQ. https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/G202059240?language=en_US
- Big Commerce. 10 Fascinating Amazon Statistics Sellers Need To Know in 2020. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/amazon-statistics/#10-fascinating-amazon-statistics-sellers-need-to-know-in-2020