Amazon product ranking Everything you need to know about BSR
One of the main metrics to identify the top selling items on Amazon is Best Sellers Rank, which is better known by its abbreviation, BSR.
As we described in this article, there is no such thing as “best selling items on Amazon” and more often than not, emotion or personal values tends to cloud one’s judgement whether any given product is good to resell or not.
Just for clarity’s sake;
Best seller rank is a number which Amazon uses to rate the popularity of individual listings/ASIN’s and just like with Google page rank the lower the number the better.
We advocate that you follow the numbers and BSR is definitely a good metric to go by.
However what people tend to forget, is that BSR is not a fixed number but rather a fluctuating index of the Amazon total stock.
To state it more plainly I will use the following example to illustrate what I mean:
When you are an icecream vendor you’ll sell a lot of your products during the summer and spring, but much less or maybe even nothing during winter and autumn.
So when you translate this back onto Amazon, this means that during summer, the best seller rank will be low ( again with BSR the lower the number, the better), but during winter the BSR will most likely skyrocket.
What you have to understand is that in some way, although less obvious than the above example, almost every product you see on Amazon is a seasonal product.
Meaning that most products have a peak in sales during a certain period and a slump in other periods.
And once you realize this, you will see that it is not so much about what the top selling items on Amazon are, but more about understanding the market these products are catering too.
So BSR represents a decent approximation of best selling items on Amazon, but it only represents how things are now, not how they are in the future.
Now all things considered BSR is still a good number to base your purchasing decision on to identify best selling items on Amazon for doing online arbitrage.
With private label and wholesale for instance BSR, at least on the short term, becomes less important and it becomes more important to understand the market and how stable the BSR number stays over a longer period in time.
But because online arbitrage is a relative fast way of selling items online, where you don’t have much stock the BSR should have a more prominent place in your decision whether or not you are going to sell a certain item or not.
Another point I would like to address, is the fact that the BSR number doesn’t have the same impact or relevance in all categories or indeed with all items.
As there are many categories on Amazon I will use these 3 categories as an example: Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry, Industrial & Scientific and Sports and Outdoors.
Now if I take a BSR rank of 25000 as an example, with:
Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry it means an estimated 290 sales per month.
For Industrial & Scientific it means an estimated 40 sales per month.
And for Sports & Outdoors, it means an estimated 126 sale per month.
On a first glance most people immediately disregard the item which is being sold in the Industrial and Scientific category.
However if you take into account how many variations each listing potentially holds it might be the best item you could pick.
You see when it comes to things like clothing and sports items, you often have a lot more different colors and sizes, compared to an item in the Industrial & Scientific category.
So if you have 15 different sizes and 4 different colours on a clothing listing, but only 3 variations on an industrial listing, the first mentioned will have an individual estimated sales of 15 each month, while the other approximately sells 13 items on each variation per month.
The last point I would like to make regarding BSR, is that most companies that either offer training or leads like us, tell you to go as low as possible when it comes to BSR ranking and sourcing items to resell on Amazon.
And although I agree with that on principle, they forget a major aspect in this equation: Competition.
With a lower BSR ranking you tend to have a lot more competition and this also affects how well you sell an item and also how much profit you make.
For example let’s just say you have 2 identical toys represented in the same category, one listing has a BSR rank of 1000 and the other listing has a BSR of 15000.
The listing with the BSR of a 1000 sells approximately 1900 items each month and the one with the BSR of 15000 sells about 240 each month.
Now let’s say the listing with a BSR rank of 1000 has 60 sellers and the one with a BSR of 15000 has 15 sellers, this means that:
The listing with BSR of a 1000 will yield an individual seller 32 sales per month and the listing with a BSR of 15000 will yield each individual seller 16 sales per month.
Most would choose to list their item on the listing with the lowest rank at this point, mainly because they fail to see or understand another mechanic that is at play:
Market elasticity and a supply & demand mechanic.
You see, when you sell a generic item a lot of people can and do sell and there is a strong demand for it, more often than not it drives down the price and this will cut into your profit.
What also often happens when a product is in demand, is that a wholesaler or Amazon themselves jump on the listing and selling an item for a very low price and with generic products this often means the market for said item grows ( this is market elasticity).
In the above ( albeit fictional) example, it often means you can sell the same exact product and earn more money by choosing to add your inventory to the list with the higher BSR.
So to recap all of the above: Follow the numbers and let yourself be guided by the BSR ranking, but don’t be blinded by it.