Amazon Vendor: all you need to know

Let’s talk about Amazon Vendor, something is not much talked and people is wondering about how it is and how does it work. You should not be surprised to know that Amazon thinks about manufacturers and providers, in fact the middle and bigger accounts are more interesting for them than the plain sellers that do sell on FBA.

Not pretty much ago I did say something about it on the Digital1to1 #AMAZONBATTLE – AMAZON life or death, Amazon can be a blessing but also a curse when it comes to find the true meaning of the numbers of your business.

On 2018, the battle has moved to Amazon Seller or Amazon Vendor. The fight is between selling to Amazon or manufacture for Amazon

The selling regimes on Amazon are, mayorly, two: Seller Central and Vendor each one of them with their own characteristics, let’s see their differences.

What is Amazon Vendor Central?

Amazon Vendor Central is oriented to providers and manufacturers. To sum it all up here the client is Amazon not the final consumer, what makes it to act as the traditional wholesaler.

Being on Vendor Central is being way too cool, just as much that is even nixed to those that do not have the specified invitation.

Here you can access to an advertisement platform that even is something else, it does have many more formats and advanced options encompassed inside the AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) or, even, you can access to the Amazon Media Group (AMG)’s campaigns that, for example, allow you to do remarketing to Amazon’s clients using Display campaigns on really accurated platforms and media such as online newspaper. You can also access to reports of advanced analytics.

The price that you pay for having your products sold on Amazon instead on a third-party marketplace means having the control (and you depend on them to the 100%). Forget about basic stuff such as defining how much money you want to receive for your product: you sell to Amazon, you ship it to their warehouse and they would decide on it, but not going to take into consideration your opinion.

You are going to sell much more, that is true, but under their conditions.

Well, I am going to repeat this fact in case it did not get clear:

On the Vendor mode you do not control the price of the selling. Amazon has the stock, it is theirs, you have sold it to them and they put the price that their algorithm determines (the cheapest of the whole market)

I would emphasize the previous said because getting started onto the Vendor mode could carry you some problems with the distribution channel. Let’s be clear, you are going to cannibale your sells, but also the ones from all your dealers and they, obviously, are not going to be very fond of it.

Seller Central vs Vendor Central

Amazon Seller Central is the ideal version for those that do want to sell as a third-party to the Bezos’ clients. Those that are under this regime are the sellers “marketplace” and at the same time they are different from those that do control all the management of orders and shipping, and those that do choose to use FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) letting Amazon to take care of the little inconvenients and paying a quote for all of that.

The ones from Seller Central are the infantry, the ones that let themselves to be kicked on the mud in order to win the Buy Box, they confront a selling process pretty uncomfortable, they have limited advertisement options… On the other side, they have a certain level of control over their product, reporting, direct feedback with the client, price and selling strategy, which is not a kids game.

How do I get into Amazon Vendor?

You do not get in. They let you in. Before we could access to Vendor Express, which was open to everybody all around the World, but recently they closed it.

There are normally 4 ways that you can get into Amazon Vendor:

  1. When you are on Seller mode using marketplace or retail and, from them, when you are on the top of sellings, Amazon would call you and offer you to go to a Vendor account
  2. You might be a renowned brand and they call you off directly to be a Vendor
  3. You may be a dealer that they may have known about doing an investigation under all the Sellers’ data (yes, do not upload that data if you do not want AZ to see them), and after they would call you to get in as a Vendor
  4. They could call you to be a Vendor Manufacturer (compatible with normal Vendor) what means, make products for Amazon putting on them their brand: Amazon Basics, Wickedly Prime, HabitDesign…

How much does it cost to sell on Amazon Vendor?

It does not cost anything, it is Amazon who do buy from you.

But do not be worry, afterly you will pay the price

You will pay when they offer you:

  • Doing campaigns on AMS
  • Doing campaigns on AMG
  • To forward a stock and that they would pay in between 60/90 days
  • To pay for having an internal support on Amazon (somebody “x” hours per day, with annual fees which are of 5 or 6 figures with a full-stop in the middle).
  • Accessing to Amazon Premium Vendor Services (from $30.000/year).

Accessing to the premium reporting of Analytics (ARA: Amazon Retail Analytics).As so you see, you will see much more, but everything costs more money, also.

Does it interest me to sell on Amazon Vendor?

I may say the same as always: it depends.
It does pay the price in some cases and not that much in others.
Before making the big step think about one of these scenarios:

You know that Amazon is or will be one of those channels where you should be selling

The consumers go there each time more and more, this is just like that. Or your competitors are already selling there. Or both.

You do not want to invest money and sources on selling on Amazon

This could not be easier: here you are the wholesaler that does serve to Amazon. This means that you do not have the need to fight with the logistics any more that in those specific moments where you do have to make something get to an specific order to their warehouse.

You may be forgetting about the returns, delivery problems, struggles with the final client… all of this is more efficient without the need of getting excessively involved in all of that.

You do want to reach a good selling volume

A part from the evidently advantages of costs and resources that we have just talked about, now Amazon does want to get involved into that management and does want to prioritize the rotation of your products in order to avoid having them stored forever.

They are not losers. They are going to sell first “their articles” before those that are sold on the marketplace through the Seller Central.

  • You do have more probabilities of winning the Buy Box and this does mean that you are going to selling a lot more (even though the Vendor mode is famously known because Amazon does go without stock for some weeks and they do not make any order from you).
  • They apply the Prime program which you already know that it is one of the differential competitive advantages of buying on Amazon and a weight factor on Amazon’s SEO.
  • You can also choose some other services like Pantry which is really quite good thought for those products with a lower price and a highly rotation (hygiene, food, beauty, home…) or what is even more surprising: the program of Subscribe & Save, which allows the users to subscribe to a certain product and receive it in the quantity and periodicity that they do choose automatically (hi, parents, here you have some dippers on subscription).
  • Sold and send by Amazon, this simply sentence dynamites many of the fears of some clients. For the rest of the plain people, Amazon rules. Another weight factor of Amazon’s SEO.

You are concerned on protecting your brand

Really, it is not that Jeff Bezos is going to go out there on sweats with the Godfather’ squad to offer you “protection” in exchange of a fee of your business (they do that without needing to call the racketeering).

Amazon is going to take care of your intellectual property/industrial much more that the one of other products that they do not sell directly. They are not interested in allowing the selling of illegitimate products, as for the user experience as well as for their business.

Be careful with the overtone: they do protect your brand, not the one of your PVPs or PVPR.

Visibility on pages with the A+ product

This thing is the shit. You already know that the product sheets have some limited snippets inside the marketplace, they are quite spartan, severes,… with less details that the cell where Saint Teresa had to levitate in because there was not even a chair.

For those who are plugged inside Vendor Central they have reserved the suites of the Four Seasons 5 Stars Superior Grand Luxe of Idaho.

Well, not just for those of the Vendor, they have just opened the Seller also and without the need to pay for it. Why? Because some Mister Vendor (or Seller) did pay for having an A+ and, any other one selling the same product with the same EAN, did have access to that A+ for free, and they did compete for the Buy Box.

Let’s go further.

The A+ Detail Pages, are the f*ing Rolls Royce of the Amazon’s content. They allow:

  • Select a totally different layout from the standard pages.
  • Have a pretty more large text.
  • Insert photographies and videos in the different sections.

You are basically creating a landing page inside Amazon and it does shows on the conversions.

An A+ page can augment the conversion between a 3% and a 10%, according to Amazon

From 2018’s January the basic version of this enhanced content is free for the Vendor Seller Central’s clients and you also have access for the Premium modules which are better than a free In ‘n Out order, they have bigger pictures, videos, graphics, and some other interactive stuff…

Examples of A+ pages

You do want advanced marketing services

The set of initials AMS do respond to Amazon Marketing Services (talked previously). Here again is where the difference is made. While in Central you can use the Amazon’s PPC (and I would dare to say that you should do it), the options that you acquire are unlimited. Basically to promote products, that’s all.

The Vendor again, do have more and better selling toolslike the Display Ads which are banners that do appear in certain pages and Premium places like the top headers for the promoted products.

Much better, because the advertisement tool of Seller Central is pretty much, much, much (yes, I have written it 3 times) basic.

You want to access the Amazon Vine program

We could even include here the program Vine which is not that platform osf short videos that was about to take over the world and the other that took over was Lele Pons career. It is a service that allows sending products to a chosen group of reviewers renown for their neutrality and bla, bla, bla in order to write their reviews.

The reviews are basically the best way to improve the conversion and the SEO on Amazon but the platform do not allow to do shippings in any other way that is not through Vine, which is followed up and sanctionable.

You do want advanced reports of your sellings

As we have said before, ARA: Amazon Retail Analytics, do allow you to see interesting stuff like:

  • Customer behaviour
  • Sellings
  • Geographic performance
  • Stocks tendencies
  • Clients reviews

Or even more, if we are using the Premium.

What does Amazon Retail Analytics Premium include?

Their reportings are set by:

  • Sellings
  • Marketing
  • Customer behaviour
  • Transactions
  • Tendencies
  • Sales
  • Inventory

You do have more than 20 reportings pre-designed to know stuff like:

  • Top 100 keywords used on your category Worldwide
  • Identify keyword opportunities
  • Evaluate keywords seasonally
  • Evaluate the effectivity of your keywords by geographic area
  • Downloads of the sellings reports to insert them into your CRM
  • Sellings performance by category
  • % performance of your products vs. those that do compite in your category
  • Page views and its conversions
  • % of conversion per product (sweet as gold)
  • Comparing the sells of 2 products
  • Reports of what other products are your clients buying linked to your products and identifying opportunities of cross-selling
  • Reporting of bought products together frequently on your category
  • Etc

You are worried about the support as a client

Vendor also stands out here. The work it out much more than Seller. You have direct contact with the so-called VM (Vendor Managers) which perform a follow-up much more personalized, offer solutions and add the precise documentation and templates for the upload of listings. Be careful, you should have to previously pay those 5/6 annually numbers.

Keep in mind that these people have many accounts what makes me recommend you to have patience with them and, if you do not want to have beef with them:

  • Get good advice of their recommendations even though that would mean paying a little bit more.
  • Propose adding all the products that you can to your listings (to them it is really important selling so much)
  • Be specific in your communications with them. I insist on the fact that they do have a lot of work and they are going to thank you for a really direct message, it is better sending various short e-mails than a big one of the size of Oscar Wilde’s Complete Works. (And, please, just the important things).

You want to access to special promotion programs

You do not have to go far, the Deal of the day, the Gold Box

Am I not interested in selling on Amazon Vendor Central?

Said it all, I am really interested in selling on Amazon, isn’t it? It depends, there are some negative things that you should know and that are not that fun.

They do not let you in with sneakers

It is a simile but I think that it is really clear. If you do want to be a Vendor you need to have an Amazon invitation. In order to get one of those you have to wait until they send them to you and the best way is by selling lots as a seller in the marketplace or by being a manufacturer or a dealer.

Until now there was a possibility to access to a decaffeinated version without an invitation (we have talked about it previously): the program called Vendor Express, what happens is that they are going to close it definitely in the nearly months, so…

You do want to keep the control over the price

As I said previously: the price depends on Amazon (of their algorithm). Also it does not admit any kind of negotiation because it is made based on the calculus of an algorithm base, so that is what they pay you for.

On the other hand there is the selling price to the public that, surprisingly, is also decided by Amazon. Imagine how fun it is when you have other selling channels on what you are fixing the highest price (for example on your own eCommerce).

This also has a direct reverberation on your fringes but remember that the objective is to sell over a volume.

At last, I may say that they

pay late, but in general to 60 days (also talked previously, but I would emphasize it again, but it is not a silliness) and if they do it before (for example to 30 days), keep in mind that they are going to put you a deduction over the 2% more or less. You should keep this point really into account.

You are not controlling the stock

Here are them and anyone else the ones who decide the quantity that they need, it is not on your hand doing the shipping if they do not ask for it.

Imagine that your product becomes the next big thing: a fidget spinner with the face of Drake and, by some kind of fate, you are selling it through Amazon Vendor. Therefore you are going to go out of stock and there is nothing you can do about it before you see how a boomerang with the face of Cara Delevingne becomes the next big thing.

On the other hand, if Amazon is not able to sell your licensed merchandising of Drake or it is not selling at the rhythm that their consider, Amazon can charge you with a tax by storage.

What? But they have bought the products to me!
Boy, you should have chosen trick.

You cannot change the listing

This is the real big problem many times: you cannot modify your own listing of products. Even the minimum change goes through the fact of opening a ticket to the specific bureau.

This may surprise you, especially if you come from Seller Central where you can always access to your listings and edit them to your will.

Do you want to keep in contact with the client?

It is written “keep the contact with the client” but it is read “searching the recurrent buy”.

If it is always complicated, whatever you sell, in this case it is directly impossible. The clients are Amazon’s 100%, you just keep the role of dealer so you could not have access to the orders or the IDs.

But, ISN’T IT WORTH IT AMAZON VENDOR CENTRAL?!
… it depends.

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