By Lauren Carter
Understanding Sales Rank
A Google search for “Amazon Sales Rank” returns very little from Amazon itself. It’s not surprising that the algorithm for the Amazon Sales Rank (sometimes called Bestsellers Rank) is a well kept secret. This can, understandably, lead to a lot of confusion about what Sales Rank is, and how to use it to decide which products to sell on Amazon – especially if you’re just getting started. So let us help you figure out what Sales Rank means.
What is Sales Rank?
Every product listed on Amazon has a Sales Rank – a number which gives some indication as to how well that product is selling in its category at that moment in time. It’s a snapshot of sales performance, that’s updated hourly. To really simplify it: a higher Sales Rank (smaller number) should indicate a product is selling well at that moment in time.
Our favourite description of what Sales Rank means comes from Amazon powerseller Peter Valley:
“The period of time since an item last sold. That’s it.”
When a product is sold its Sales Rank increases (the number becomes smaller). The Sales Rank will then steadily drop (the number becomes larger) until the item sells again. This is why a product’s Sales Rank can jump up or drop down dramatically in just a few hours.
If a product consistently has a high Sales Rank, you can be fairly certain that it’s selling lots of units every hour. This becomes an even more attractive product to sell if its high Sales Rank lasts across weeks, months, or even years.
When you look at a product listing and check out the Sales Rank, what you’re seeing is the product’s ranking at that moment. It could change (for better or worse…!) over the course of the next hour, so bear that in mind!
Some products won’t appear to have a Sales Rank at all. This is because it’s performing so poorly that Amazon doesn’t display the Sales Rank. These products are very slow sellers, and are generally best avoided.
What’s a good Sales Rank number?
The unsatisfying but only answer is: it depends. Sales Rank is relative to each category. If a product is selling better than other products in that category, then its Sales Rank will be higher. The more products in the category and the better products in that category sell as a whole, the broader the range of a “good” sales rank number.
So for example: a Sales Rank of 50,000 in the Baby category (which currently has around 1,331,000 products in it) is more impressive than a Sales Rank of 50,000 in the Large Appliances category (which has around 246,000 products in it).
A sales rank of 50,000 might not sound impressive at all, but when you consider this relative to the size of the category it can actually be a good selling product. At this point, it’s worth emphasising that Sales Rank alone is not enough to make a purchasing decision from.
Instead, a good rule of thumb is to work out where the Sales Rank falls in relation to the category. Let’s use the Baby category again as an example.
At the time of writing, there are around 1,331,000 products in Baby on Amazon.co.uk (we’ve rounded the number to make the maths easier). The Sales Rank numbers that fall within the top 1% (i.e. the very best sellers) are anything from 1 – 13,310. Products within this top 1% are a pretty safe bet that they’ll sell well.
Products in the top 10% would have a Sales Rank between 1 & 133,100 – so even a Sales Rank of 100,000 is still a good performer within this category.
However, the Large Appliances category has around 246,000 products in it. The top 1% Sales Ranks in this category from 1 – 2460. The top 10% Sales Ranks would be 1 – 24,600.
So in the Large Appliances category, a Sales Rank of 100,000 is nowhere near as good as in the Baby category – in fact, you would likely sell very few of such a product.
It’s up to you to decide what you’re comfortable with as a minimum threshold – whether you only want to deal in products in the top 1%, 5%, 15% etc., and how much risk you’re willing to take with lower ranked products.
Remember Sales Rank is just a snapshot.
It’s important to do some research into whether the Sales Rank you’re seeing on the product listing is representative of how well that product has really been doing, so you know it’s not just that it’s sold an unusually high number and will drop back down in Sales Rank soon. Seasonal trends can affect Sales Rank – for example, Christmas decorations will shoot up the rankings in the build up to December, but will drop off again pretty quickly. Use a historical product tracker like CamelCamelCamel to see how a product has performed over time, to see whether it’s a good long term seller, or something that will only sell fast now.
So I should always choose products with a high Sales Rank?
Ultimately, it’s up to you. Higher Sales Rank will mean that product is selling well right now, but isn’t a certainty that it will sell well consistently. It might be a smart idea to have some products that might be lower in Sales Rank but sell a few units a week consistently. These products can form the basis of your income from Amazon that will then allow you to invest in quicker selling products that have a higher Sales Rank right now, but aren’t such long term performers.
Sales Rank isn’t the only factor you should consider.
This is probably the most important thing to remember. There are all sorts of other influencing factors to consider when selecting products to sell on Amazon, such as profit margin, historical price performance, and customer reviews. We’ll be taking a closer look at these in future blog posts.
How ProfitSourcery can help you:
Our users only see products within the top 20% of their category, which means they should all sell relatively quickly. For every product in the dashboard, you can see the sales rank and what percentage that falls within. There’s also a link to check out the historical performance of the product, as well as all of the fees broken down to show a clear profit margin. We’ve even developed our own special algorithm to bring you a ProfitSourcery Rating for each opportunity, to let you see at a quick glance just how good a product opportunity is.
Get started with a free 7 day trial of ProfitSourcery today.