Amazon Sales Rank Explained

Amazon Sales Rank ExplainedLet’s talk for a second about Amazon Sales Rank. If you are learning how to sell on Amazon you will very quickly start paying attention to the Amazon Sales Rank of the products you are considering. I have been dabbling as an FBA seller for quite a while and know about sales ranks and pay attention to them, but when my husband asked me last week to explain what it means, I realized I couldn’t explain it. Which really means, I didn’t understand.

So, I did some asking and some digging and I think I “get it” now. Sales rank is a proprietary algorithm of Amazon’s. They rank every product that sells based on how often it sells in its category.  If something is ranked 1 or 100 or 200, that item is an extremely popular item that sells often. Those low numbers are great numbers. If something is ranked 12 million (or some other extremely high number,) in its category, that product sells much less frequently. An item without a rank has not yet sold.  A recent sale on an item will move its rank upward, so if you happen to look at a product right after a shopper purchases it, you would see a lower (remember, lower means better) rank. If you look at a product that hasn’t sold for a while you would see a higher (higher means worse) rank.  Some people explain sales rank as a measure of how long it has been since a product last sold.  Amazon throws some magic in, and out comes the rank.

So, in determining how popular a product is, and whether it makes sense for you to buy it, you will look at rank. Keep in mind, though, that rank is a very fluid thing and that you could be seeing an artificially high or low rank based on how long it has been since the product last sold.

Lucky for us, companies have sprung up that track rank and sales on Amazon. You can look at how often a particular item has sold and at what price and make a more informed sourcing decision. The two sites I use are CamelCamelCamel and Keepa.

Also keep in mind that different categories on Amazon have different amounts of products.  Books, for example, has right around 57 million listings.  Yes, you could find a book with a sales rank in the 50 millions.  Pet supplies, however, have under 1 million products.  You also want to remember that different product categories have different amounts of volume.  Amazon may sell books way more often that they sell pet supplies (I don’t know this, but certain categories are obviously better sellers.)

I made a quick cheat sheet that you are welcome to copy and paste.  The basic categories are included and I broke out the top 1%, 5%, 10% and 15%.

Amazon Sales Rank Cheat Sheet

You can easily make your own cheat sheet.  To find out the total number of products in any category, simply go to the top search bar in Amazon while you have a category selected.  Then type in a dash (-) plus anything senseless, like -9xxxifo. Amazon will then display the total number of items in that category for you.  Here is a picture–

Finding sales rank in amazon


The advice I read on ranks and what counts as a good rank versus a not so good rank definitely varies.  Especially in the category of books.  Some sellers stick to buying books with only ranks under 1 million, some to under 5 million and others look at a variety of factors including price and competition.  I am still figuring it out—currently, I stick to under 5 million plus an estimated selling price of $11.00 or better.  I glance at competition, especially at the higher ranked books.  If a book is a high rank plus there are a lot of offers plus it is near the $11.00 mark, often I pass.  Sometimes I buy based on “gut.”  Used books are cheap, so I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about using my “gut.”  As I move into other categories, though, my “gut” will need to be sharper and I will be paying more attention.  I will keep my learning open and share here often.  Stay tuned.

Tomorrow is a big day for us sellers, let me be the first to say, HAPPY FOURTH QUARTER!


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