Hello Robert & Michelle,
Welcome to the world of selling on Amazon! What you’ve encountered is a reason that so many sellers opt for private labeling on Amazon, so they can control their own branded listings and not compete with Amazon in the buy box. What you need to remember is that many sellers do sell what Amazon also lists because Amazon often runs out of stock and drops/adds products. When they do, your listing can take over the buy box. Seller tools that help you track top sellers and Buy Box placements can help with this, too. Sellics, Seller Labs, AMZ Insight, and even product scouting tools like Profit Bandit, Amazon Seller App, and Scoutify can tell you if Amazon has the Buy Box with a quick UPS lookup. This takes some time and, of course, the info can change, but it’s a start.
Also, talk to your vendors. They may be able to reveal what is and isn’t sold directly to Amazon and help you weed out the items you don’t want to compete on. That’s what I did and it helped tremendously. Hope this helps you develop a plan. Good luck!