Are your products selling like hotcakes on Amazon.com? Has your Amazon buyer hinted that you’ll soon get an invitation to join Amazon Vendor Central?
We put together this article to help you decide whether it’s worth making the switch from Seller Central to Vendor Central.
We have over 10 years of experience helping consumer brands with their product pages on Amazon.com. Read more about what we do and how we can help.
Which “Central” Should You Use?
Selling on Amazon Vendor Central is a completely different way of interacting with both Amazon and your customers. You’ll go from merchant to distributor. Making this switch will bring about changes in how you interact with customers, your ability to control your brand presence, and your content.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let’s define Amazon Vendor Central and Amazon Seller Central and give an overview of what each offers.
What Is Seller Central?
Amazon Seller Central is the web interface used by merchants to manage and view their orders. If you sell via Seller Central, you’re considered a marketplace or third-party seller.
As a marketplace seller, you have different options for managing your virtual storefront. Amazon has a pay-as-you-go system for individual sellers as well as a pro merchant option for high-volume sellers. Pro merchant sellers can also choose Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) whereby Amazon takes care of shipping, customer service, and returns.
What Is Vendor Central?
Amazon Vendor Central is the web interface used by manufacturers and distributors. If you sell via Vendor Central, you’re called a first-party seller. You’re acting as a supplier, selling in bulk to Amazon. Registration on Vendor Central is by invitation only.
A tell-tale sign that a company is selling through Vendor Central is the phrase “ships from and sold by Amazon.com.”
The Short List
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the differences between having a Vendor Central and a Seller Central account:
- Anyone can sell
- Quick payment
- More control over inventory and prices
- Doesn’t allow A+ content
- Potential for higher margins
- Control over listings & inventory shipments
- Invite only
- Standard payment terms
- Less control over prices
- Allows A+ content
- Potential for larger volume
- Access to AMS, AMG, and other promotions
- Amazon Vine Program, Subscribe & Save, and other marketing programs
Amazon Vendor Central Pros
Having your products sold as a first-party seller through Vendor Central means that, as far as shoppers are concerned, your product is being “sold by Amazon.” That seal of approval can provide a boost in consumer confidence that you don’t have as a third-party merchant.
If you’re selling through Vendor Central you can participate in promotional programs such as Subscribe & Save (Amazon’s subscription service). You’re also eligible for Amazon Vine, in which your product is sent to top reviewers before it ever hits the shelves. Consumers value what other consumers have to say far more than they do advertisements, so user-generated content can translate into a sales boost.
Only Vendor Central allows enhanced content, which Amazon refers to as A+ content. What is enhanced content? It’s an extended version of the basic product description including scannable text that explains the features and benefits of the product as well as product images and often a comparison chart.
Amazon Vendor Central Cons
Seller Central’s robust analytics capabilities do a great job of helping merchants forecast demand. If you want a similar level of insight through Vendor Central, be prepared to pay for Premium Analytics reports. Additionally, make sure to check with your Amazon buyer before making the switch, as Amazon doesn’t give all its suppliers the option to purchase Premium Analytics reports.
Vendor Central is an exclusive, invite-only affair. So if Amazon hasn’t invited you to become a supplier, you won’t have the option of using Vendor Central. According to Amazon, “you can request your Amazon buyer to send you an invitation,” but there are no guarantees.
With Vendor Central, you’re responsible for supplying your product to Amazon warehouses all over the United States. This can require more oversight and coordination. Amazon also assesses storage fees if products sit on the shelves too long.
Have you dealt with other pros or cons while selling via Vendor Central? Share your thoughts in a comment or send us a tweet.
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 5/25/2014. For this update we made minor edits and added a link or two.