Amazon Seller Central and Vendor Central – Does It Really Matter to Sellers in 2022?
Plus, 3 New Tools That Will Help Give You the Upper Hand on Amazon's Increasingly Sophisticated AND Competitive Marketplace
In 2022, Amazon has continued to add to its ever-expanding ecommerce tool box. These new additions, made possible in part by innovations in artificial intelligence, data modeling, and machine learning have allowed it to keep pace with the increased sophistication of Amazon’s Marketplace. It also signals to the rest of the world that Amazon is well aware that it’s not the only game in town.
In this post I’m going to detail the additions that Amazon has rolled out, but first, let’s take a look at one way of selling on Amazon that doesn’t get too much publicity, Amazon’s Vendor Central platform.
What’s the Difference Between Amazon’s Seller Central and Vendor Central?
I’m pretty certain that Amazon retail customers don’t know (or care) what type of individual seller account was behind their recent purchase. They’re shopping for a product and simply want it delivered as soon as possible.
Partnering with Amazon and becoming a professional seller on its platform isn’t the only way to do things. Rather than becoming an Amazon FBA seller FOR the ecommerce giant, you can sell directly TO Amazon. Then, they’ll sell the products for you!
On the other hand, Amazon’s Seller Central offers tremendous flexibility in managing the selling of the product yourself, including everything from the inventory levels, to the retail price.
Still, though sellers give up a lot of control over their business when they sell through Vendor Central, their product shows up as being “sold by Amazon.” Having that “social proof” (prospective customers looking to others for clues), goes a long way towards making customers comfortable about pressing the buy button.
But, there’s an important part that I left out.
Amazon Vendor Central – Get Your Invite Yet?
Yep, you need an invitation to sell through Amazon’s Vendor Central
Amazon Vendor Central is an invite-only portal created to allow manufacturers and customers to connect. In this platform, Amazon is functioning as the distributor or middleman. Referred to as 1P (or first party), this means that you sell your products directly to Amazon. Amazon then turns around and sells those products to customers. Your primary responsibility is fulfilling purchase orders (PO) sent by Amazon and shipping them the products.
When you use Amazon Vendor Central:
- It is by invitation only
- You gain the “social proof” of the “Sold by Amazon” Prime badge on your product
- Sales are direct to Amazon (not end users)
- You don’t control your product prices
- Once your bulk items are shipped to Amazon, your job is done
- Amazon can change your product descriptions and visual listing elements without your approval
- You’re responsible for advertising (design and cost)
- Amazon makes the decisions regarding what they think will sell
- Amazon controls the inventory management
So, if you get an invitation from Amazon to sign up for Vendor Central, the process is simple:
- Amazon places a purchase order with you
- You’ll send the stock to Amazon
- Amazon pays you and is ultimately responsible for selling the items
Amazon Seller Central – You Know This!
More than half of everything sold on Amazon originates from independent sellers using Seller Central. A 3P (third-party) relationship with Amazon gives you considerably more control selling your products.
Using Seller Central’s portal, a third party seller sells their products directly to shoppers on the Amazon marketplace and has control over every aspect of the Amazon business from the advertising and marketing, to inventory and the shipping of products.
Amazon Seller Central:
- Is open to anyone
- You will need to build your own social proof through good reviews
- You are selling directly to Amazon’s customers
- Control of your pricing structure is all yours (This allows you to change it accordingly to remain competitive on Amazon)
- Shipping is your responsibility (Most use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA))
- You’re responsible for all of the advertising (both the design and cost)
- You are 100% responsible for what you sell
- Inventory management is managed by you
The main negative of assuming all this responsibility is that to do this correctly, it requires that you have the time and experience to handle the marketing yourself. Selling on Amazon is a competition. You need to be skilled enough at the optimization of your listings AND the management of your advertising campaigns to be able to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Three New Ecommerce Tools for Sellers On and Off Amazon
In the last year, Amazon has released a series of features (both on the platform and off) to help ecommerce sellers build, scale, and promote their brands on the Amazon marketplace.
In addition to Amazon’s existing collection of brand benefits, here are three new features that Amazon has rolled out that you’re going to want to take a closer look at.
Amazon Live Creator
To help brands and influencers create, capture and manage livestreams, Amazon has launched the Amazon Live Creator app.
Amazon Live takes the fun and interactive nature of live video and joins it with online shopping. Sellers can engage with shoppers in real-time and drive sales with interactive livestreams
Features like product highlighting, live promotions and chat help Amazon sellers engage with their audience during the streams.
To engage with their audience, sellers can take advantage of features such as:
- Product highlighting,
- Live promotions
- Interactive chat
Amazon Marketing Stream
Big data is here to stay and it’s helping ecommerce sellers at all stages of their Amazon selling journey. The recent supply chain hiccups and Amazon’s reduced restock limits have both highlighted the need for Amazon sellers to maintain more control over their business.
Now, Amazon has decided to harness the power of these technologies to assist sellers with their ecommerce business. .
Amazon just launched Amazon Marketing Stream (now in Beta), a product that delivers Amazon Ads campaign metrics and information to advertisers’ or integrators’ AWS accounts via a push-based model in near real-time.
You can subscribe to campaign data sets available on Amazon Marketing Stream using the existing Amazon Ads API token and by providing your AWS account details. Once subscribed, Amazon Marketing Stream will deliver hourly performance metrics, with details such as targeting expression performance by placement and budget consumption messages in near real-time. Amazon says that, “other campaign data sets will be available for subscription in the coming months.”
With Amazon Marketing Stream, you can optimize your advertising campaign, respond more quickly to campaign changes, and improve the overall efficiency of your campaign.
Buy with Prime
DTC (Direct to Consumer) small business has had a love/hate relationship with Amazon. That’s because Amazon casts a very large shadow on the ecommerce landscape. Amazon’s sheer size and marketplace power allow them to shoulder themselves into smaller niche marketplaces in ways that can feel oppressive to smaller sellers.
Now, Amazon is using that massive footprint to help entrepreneurs and small businesses that AREN’T EVEN SELLING ON AMAZON’S MARKETPLACE.
Amazon has recently released Buy with Prime, which allows small businesses to sell merchandise on their own website, but take advantage of one of the principal benefits of Amazon’s fantastic fulfillment service.
So, what exactly is Amazon offering to DTC sellers? It’s a lot! As if Prime Next Day Shipping isn’t enough, here’s a full list of the shipping benefits of Amazon Prime members:
Free same-day (and one day) shipping – Available in over 10,000 cities and towns on millions of items. Free Same-Day Delivery is available on qualifying orders over $25. Place your order in the morning, typically before noon, to get it today by 9PM. Free One-Day shipping orders placed by the evening arrive the next day. Amazon Business customers can enable Same-Day delivery under their business settings.
Free two-day shipping – Over 100 million items that arrive two business days after they ship. Unlimited shipping, no minimum order threshold. Available in areas across the US. Look for the Prime logo as you shop and choose Two-Day Shipping at checkout.
Amazon Day – Receive all eligible business orders on the same day each week-you choose the day. Amazon Day is convenient, predictable, and helps reduce truck traffic and cardboard waste.
Discounted expedited shipping – Business Prime members pay less for expedited shipping on millions of items.
Free consolidated shipping – Available on millions of items shipped by Amazon in the continental US. Choose Consolidated Shipping on eligible large orders to receive all of your packages in the fewest deliveries. Business Prime members get their deliveries faster.
Free delivery on special items –
Get free delivery on hundreds of thousands of items that are large, heavy, or require special handling.
Amazon is Getting More Competitive Every Day
These three new features add to the increasing number of ways that you’re able to manipulate (the sometimes complicated) ecommerce levers that help you to move your brand forward.
The problem is that with great freedom comes great responsibility. In Amazon’s early, “wild west” days, it’s rumored that all that was necessary to make a lot of money was putting up a listing, and employing what now would be called black hat marketing practices.
Now, it’s a different selling landscape. As Amazon expands their outreach to brands selling on their marketplace, the process of building, growing, and monitoring your business requires increased levels of sophistication to compete at the highest level.
And there’s one more little thing I almost forgot to mention that’s important to keep in mind. There’s a big difference between Amazon’s goal and that of Amazon sellers.
Your Ecommerce Goal is Different Than Amazon’s
Amazon is happy if everyone is a little bit successful. After all, they are going to get paid one way or the other. But, you are uniquely focused on the success of your own product and are in COMPETITION with the rest of the sellers in your niche.
That’s where an Amazon marketing service such as CANOPY Management comes in.
CANOPY Management wants to be your Amazon agency AND ecommerce partner. They leverage their experience from across all corners of the Amazon industry to help you scale your business, and gain market share. This partnership allows you to maintain control of your Amazon business, while at the same time benefitting from the wealth of experience and expertise of the CANOPY Management team.
CANOPY Management is a “full service” marketing agency for Amazon sellers, and our team consists of former Amazonians, multi-million dollar sellers, and award-winning experts. When you consider the ways in which CANOPY Management is able to help you grow your Amazon business, you’ll know why.
- Strategic Growth Planning
- Listing Copywriting Optimization
- Listing Photography
- Product Videography
- Advertising Management
- Customer Service
- Demand Side Platform (Amazon DSP)
- Amazon Posts
- Full Service Management
- Amazon Review Aggregation
Are you looking to expand your income stream, or transition away from your primary career? It’s a new year and with the growth of ecommerce, now is a great time to reap some benefits yourself!