With so many sellers competing for shoppers’ attention, it can be difficult to know where your product stands within the vast Amazon Marketplace. One way many sellers help determine how they’re measuring up to the competition is to assess their Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR). Throughout this blog, we’ll discuss whether or not this is the best metric to consider when evaluating your Amazon performance and sales.
What is Amazon Best Sellers Rank?
Amazon ranks products every hour based on the amount of time that has passed since the last sale. Essentially, the products that have made the most recent sales have the highest Amazon BSR, while those whose sales are lagging have a lower ranking. That’s really it, the more recent a sale, the better the BSR.
Many sellers have a misconception that things like reviews, keywords or pricing play a role in calculating BSR. While these factors may impact a shopper’s decision to purchase, and therefore whether or a not a sale is made, they are not directly assessed by Amazon when calculating BSR.
Understanding Category Rankings
Visit the Product Details section of any listing and you can view that product’s current BSR within certain categories and subcategories. BSR ranks products only in relation to other products within that same category and subcategory. Therefore, the BSR is only useful for apple to apple comparisons. If your product ranks 1,000 in Home & Kitchen, this means nothing in comparison to a product that ranks 1,000 in Pet Supplies.
An important thing to note is that Amazon created category and subcategory lists to highlight an item’s ranking in the categories and subcategories in which it is performing well. This means that the BSR on a product’s listing is reflective of just a handful of the most popular subcategories where the product is selling well. As a result, a product’s BSR is a good reflection of the categories and subcategories in which the product is selling well overall, but not a good indicator of how the product is selling in comparison to other similar products.
Be Conscious of Lag Time
While a product’s BSR is updated every hour, its current ranking may not be reflective of the sales made over the past hour. This is because there is a little bit of lag time (an estimated 2-3 hours) between when a sale is made and when it is analyzed by Amazon’s algorithm and reflected in the product’s BSR. This does not have a large impact on how sellers can utilize their BSR, but it is important to keep in mind, especially if you’ve just made a large sale and are eager to see the impact on your Amazon Best Sellers Rank.
Know the Role of Historical Data
At the end of each hour, Amazon doesn’t simply hit the refresh button on your BSR. Instead, it tracks your BSR throughout the lifetime of your listing. The data is then analyzed by Amazon’s predictive algorithm and used to predict and impact your future BSR. This means that recent sales are not all Amazon takes into account when determining your ranking. Your entire sales history is just as, if not more important, to Amazon when calculating your BSR.
Why does this matter? Well, it means that newer products are more likely to fluctuate in their BSR than older, more established listings. The longer your product has been on Amazon, the greater the impact of historical data on your BSR and the harder it becomes to affect your BSR – for better or worse.
If you notice your BSR changing less and less dramatically over time – don’t worry. This is a natural part of Amazon’s predictive algorithm and happens to all products as their sales history increases. While it may make it more difficult for you to improve your ranking more quickly, it also protects established products that have slowly built up their Amazon Best Sellers Rank over time.
Should I Really Care About BSR?
Well, it all depends on how you define the importance of the Amazon Best Sellers Rank. If you’re assessing its value based on its importance to the average Amazon shopper, then it’s value is low – if not non-existent. That’s because few if any Amazon shoppers actually consult the BSR when making a purchase decision. They are much more likely to consider things like reviews, product bullet points and listing imagery.
BSR becomes much more valuable when used as a general indicator of your product’s overall health. When taken into account with your product reviews, account status and pricing in relation to your competitors, it can help give you a 360-degree view of how your product is performing – especially when assessed over a long period of time.
It is also a good thing to consider when stocking new products. Doing a little bit of research on the BSR of similar products can give you a general idea of how much product they are moving each month – and as a result, how much of your own product you should consider stocking.
Defining a “Good” BSR
Remember, Amazon Best Sellers Rank changes hourly, so assessing your ranking based on a single BSR number will do you no good. To get an accurate sense of your average BSR, record your ranking over a matter of weeks or months.
Once you have a large sample of data, calculate the average of all your BSR standings and use this to determine within what top percentage of your category your product falls. To do so, divide your average BSR by the total number of products within your category and multiply by 100. As a general rule of thumb, you’re shooting for a BSR with the top 15%. Therefore a “Good” BSR isn’t a specific number, but a range based on the number of products within your category.
Best Seller Rank v. Organic Search Rankings
There are several variables contributing to your BSR that also impact your organic search rankings. These include factors like your sales history, advertising, pricing, etc. Because of this overlap, many sellers incorrectly believe that there is a correlation between their BSR and organic search rankings.
In reality, your product could have a high BSR and be hidden behind pages and pages of listings in the organic search results. There are a few reasons for this, the first being that factors like price and sales history only indirectly affect your BSR. As we’ve already mentioned, the length of time since your last sale is the only true variable used to calculate your BSR – everything else simply plays a role in the shopper purchase decision.
The second is that BSR is an ever-changing metric, meaning that it could fluctuate quite a bit throughout the day, week or month. At the same time, your organic ranking for the same listing might not have changed at all. This is because greater variables go into impacting your search rankings, making them less volatile than your BSR.
When it’s all said and done, your BSR and organic search results are two distinct metrics and should be treated as such. If you are going to focus your time and energy on one over the other, we’d advise concentrating on your organic search results every time.
It’s Not a Perfect System
While your Amazon Best Sellers Rank can give you a general sense of how your product is performing within a certain category or subcategory, it’s not without its flaws. Consider e-books, for example. Amazon does not differentiate between free e-books and those consumers have to pay for. As a result, this inflates the BSR of free e-books – not because these products are making greater profits, but simply because the product is free and consumers are more willing to “buy.”
Product promotions can also temporarily inflate a listing’s BSR. If you offer a discount on a product, you will almost certainly see a spike in your BSR, but that doesn’t mean you’re seeing any improvement in your bottom line.
These kinds of loopholes and cheats within the algorithm are exactly why you shouldn’t rely on BSR alone to compare the success of your listing to that of your competitors. BSR only starts to tell a story when it is analyzed alongside other factors (i.e. price, reviews, etc.) over a long period of time.
Don’t Get Caught Up in BSR
At the end of the day, there are other, stronger metrics you can use to assess the health and growth of your product. It might be nice to see your BSR climb, and, yes, it can be useful when considered with other factors, but when it comes down to it – BSR is primarily a vanity metric.
What matters more is how you are working to improve your sales over time to hit your financial goals. Other metrics we recommend using to assess your growth and standing in the Amazon Marketplace are: