It’s no secret that Amazon represents a massive opportunity for brands, both in the UK and internationally to build online sales. Amazon commands a ready-made audience of trusting online shoppers, first-class customer service and a fine-tuned user experience to boot.
For many, the journey starts with Amazon Seller Central. But for established brands, there’s a better, and more exclusive option which can take your brand to a whole new dimension: Amazon Vendor Central.
What is Amazon Vendor Central?
Amazon Vendor Central is an invite-only way to sell your products through Amazon. The critical feature of Vendor Central, is that Amazon will purchase your product from you, and from there, Amazon take control of the bulk of the sales process.
Despite this, there are certain areas which you are still responsible for managing.
For example, as a Vendor, you must still manage:
- Terms negotiations
- Agreeing the price Amazon will purchase the product for
- Product page content
- PPC & other advertising activity
Amazon will set to match the lowest price in the market to provide shoppers with the most competitive price available.
How does Amazon Vendor Central Differ to Seller Central?
Amazon Seller Central is open to everyone – with no real barrier to entry aside from monthly selling fees and associated costs. Given this, Amazon Seller Central is often the most common and suitable way for SME to sell.
As a Seller, you’re responsible for everything from fulfilment, stock issues & returns, and ensuring you’re applying your country’s tax laws correctly. As a Vendor, you’re entering into an agreement with Amazon to fulfil their purchase orders so they can sell your products directly to the shopper.
A key difference is how logistics (deliveries) are handled. Seller Central puts you in full control, leaving you to choose couriers and pricing structure. Vendor Central takes that largely out of your hands. Your job is to fulfil Amazon’s purchase orders – after all, you’re selling to Amazon and not the shopper.
What are Amazon Vendor Advertising Options?
Firstly, through Amazon Advertising Console, Vendors will have access to a variety of advertising opportunities using a Pay Per Click (PPC) model. PPC is an advertising format where you incur a fee (often a nominal amount) every time someone clicks on your ad.
Often, a bidding system means that those willing to pay more for clicks
, will appear more prominently. During peak times, for instance Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the run-up to Christmas, Amazon PPC gets far more competitive, and costs per click (CPCs) increase. For Vendors and Sellers, this can be offset by volume sales and high conversion rates, so doesn’t always impact margins.
What are Amazon Sponsored Brands?
Amazon Sponsored Brands were formally called Amazon Headline Search Ads. Sponsored Brand Ads appear either above (one advertiser) or below (up to three advertisers) product search results. You can choose the destination URL of your ad to point to either your Storefront or a product page. To run Amazon Sponsored Brands, you must be Amazon brand-registered, you must also conform to a few basic guidelines, and your product(s) must be within eligible categories.
What are Amazon Sponsored Products?
For any single product (providing you’ve already won the Vendor Buy Box) you can set up Amazon Sponsors Products. These ads appear in either product search results or below product detail pages.
They are featured more prominently than organic results. There are two targeting options – Automatic and Manual. Using Automatic Targeting takes care of keyword and bidding choices for you, conversely Manual Targeting puts you in the driver’s seat. Either way, you don’t need to create any additional collateral or assets.
As with Sponsored Brands, your products must fall into certain categories and tick a few guideline boxes.
How do I get invited to Amazon Vendor Central?
There’s no guaranteed way to be invited. However, the most common ways include:
- Exhibiting at Trade Fairs where Amazon scouts notice your business
- Demonstrating that you are a brand focused business through Amazon Marketplace as a Seller with your own branded products
- Being a brand where Amazon can see evidence of strong demand
- Speak with your Amazon agency for a referral
Can I refuse to join Amazon Vendor Central?
You can absolutely refuse to join Amazon Vendor Central, and continue to use Amazon Seller Central.
In the vast majority of cases, this will not affect your relationship with Amazon. However, one exception applies when you meet the following criteria:
- You are a manufacturer
- You sell through the Amazon marketplace (Seller Central)
- You sell to other retailers or distributors
Does Amazon Vendor Central have an API?
Sadly, no. Amazon Vendor Central does not have an API, so working with large amounts of data can be tricky. There are other technologies that Vendor Central is compatible with, and some work-arounds…but you’ll most likely need agency support to implement this.
When do Amazon Vendors get Paid?
Amazon pays Vendors with payment term ranging normally from 30 to 90 days.
With most Vendors on the longer two payment terms, cash flow can be problematic, so working with an agency that can help streamline your operations to avoid supply chain issues – as early in the process as possible
What does a Vendor Central Agency do?
Often, it’s most efficient and cost-effective to hire an agency to handle one, or all aspects of your relationship between you as a Vendor, and Amazon.
That said, there’s no set formula for how a Vendor Central Agency like Arthia, can help you, and it may be that you take on a unique mix of consultancy and management services across different areas:
- Logistics, including fulfilment
- Reporting & Forecasting
- Customer Service
- Marketing, content writing and design
- Advertising, including Amazon PPC and SEO
- Market Research
How can I find a Vendor Central Agency?