Which “Central” Should You Use?

Which “Central” Should You Use?

The fundamental difference between Vendor Central and Seller Central is who will be selling your products. With Vendor Central, Amazon’s retail team buys and resells your products to their customers. With Seller Central, you are selling directly to Amazon’s customers. There are significant differences between the two, so it’s important to fully understand the potential opportunities and drawbacks with each. Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let’s define Amazon Vendor Central and Amazon Seller Central and give an overview of what each offers.

Vendor Central

Vendor Central is an “Invite Only” service offered by Amazon. Once you are part of the Vendor Central system, your products become “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com”. Instead of selling to shoppers as a merchant, you’re selling to Amazon as a distributor. The program grants you access to A+ content, but you have less control over the price at which your product is being offered. You’re selling inventory to Amazon in bulk, instead of purchasing in bulk and waiting for the shoppers to buy.

Acting as a Vendor Central account helps shoppers to be more comfortable with purchasing the product. A product coming directly from Amazon is more trustworthy than coming from “Company ABC”. You’re also given the opportunity to be a part of Amazon’s Vine Program, offering products at a discount to shoppers. There is a bit more of an advantage in marketing tactics operating off of a Vendor Central account.
Here are the major aspects of Vendor Central:

  • Invite only
  • Standard payment terms
  • Less control over prices
  • The potential for larger volume
  • Amazon Vine Program, Subscribe & Save, and other marketing programs

Seller Central

Just about anyone can gain a Seller Central account. There are differences between a professional and a non-professional account. For the purpose of the comparison, we’re strictly going to focus on professional Seller Central accounts. Offering the product through Seller Central offers more control over the products themselves. Seller Central accounts also provide extra information by way of inventory and product management. Payouts based on sales are incurred on a normal basis.
Seller Central offers the opportunity to create promotional codes for customers so that you’re able to run independent marketing promotions. You can also communicate with shoppers one on one, should the need arise. You have more control over PPC campaigns and free extensive analytics within your account.

Here are the major aspects of Seller Central:

  • Anyone can sell
  • Quick payment
  • More control over inventory and prices
  • The potential for higher margins
  • Control over listings & inventory shipments

The Short List

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the differences between having a Vendor Central and a Seller Central account:

Seller Central

  • Open to anyone
  • Sell directly to Amazon’s customers
  • Flexible logistical options
  • Quick payment terms
  • Brand controls retail pricing
  • Limited advertising options
  • Complex sales process
  • Enhanced Brand Content

Vendor Central

  • Invite only
  • Sell to Amazon
  • Fixed logistical options
  • Traditional payment terms
  • Amazon controls retail pricing
  • Multiple advertising options
  • Traditional sales process
  • A+ content

Pros of Amazon Vendor Central

  • Consumer Trust – People trust Amazon’s Reputation & Prime Logo
  • Enhanced A+ Content – Eligible to add HTML Content, photos with callouts, comparison charts, bullet points, videos. A+ content is a paid service. Ability to have more control over your page without going through customer service
  • Subscribe & Save – Consumers have household staples sent directly to your home at a discount.
  • Amazon Vine – Top rated Amazon consumers receive your product in exchange for unbiased reviews. There are alternatives like snagshout.com to get reviews.
  • Amazon Marketing Services – ability to create rich content ads. Paid service.
  • Vendor Premium Services – Amazon can merge listings if there are duplicates, variation listing set up, write content for you

Cons of Amazon Vendor Central

  • Limited analytics and reporting – may be left guessing how your sales are doing
  • Amazon approves All Changes – If you want to change 1 spelling mistake, it will be a long process
  • Amazon requests inventory – No control on how much inventory will go into Amazon. Requests come from Amazon on Monday and you have a few days to ship no matter how large the order.
  • Turn Around Time – Purchase orders, shipping window, agreements, etc.
  • Amazon sets prices and promotions – If a product is not selling well, they can discount the item and the cost gets passed to you as the seller
  • Non-Compliance Fees – Fees for late shipments, improper shipments, etc.
  • Fees assessed immediately
  • Slow Payment – Sellers have to submit invoices to Amazon to get paid.

Amazon Seller Central Pros

  • Available to anyone – Just need a bank account and address
  • More control over listings
  • Brand registry – Authority for full control over listings. If you’re not registered, any seller can contribute and possibly change your listing to come up with the best listing
  • Rich analytics – Great data to make important business decisions as a seller
  • The seller creates shipments – You decide how much product you want to send in
  • Fast Payments (Bi-weekly)
  • Seller Community – forums, Facebook, Reddit, podcasts, webinars, etc.
  • Retail Profit Margins – Set your prices

Amazon Seller Central Cons

  • Limited listing details
  • No access to vendor programs (Vine, AMS, subscribe & save, etc.)
  • Only simple PPC Ads

Why Your Decision Matters

“It may be hard to fathom, but over 50% of all online shoppers now use Amazon as the first website they visit when making buying decisions. If brands haven’t created a strategy to reach these shoppers, they’re missing out on a major piece of the e-commerce market. In many ways, Amazon is more important than Google,” notes Economy founder Wes Grudzien.

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