At some point in your company’s online marketing endeavor, you are probably either looking to expand out from Amazon or more than likely looking to add the platform to your online sales strategy. While many people are familiar with mainstay platforms such as Google Ads or Bing, there are a lot of people who still have yet to try out Amazon. In this article, I’ll try to explain these two base platforms that you’ll want to look at and consider.
The first thing you’ll need to know is that Amazon offers two main platforms to sell your products, those being Seller Central and Vendor Central. While both are viable options for increasing your company’s bottom line, they are also both vastly different and will require some thought before jumping in. As both are different, you may find that either one or both suit your company’s sales objectives.
The main difference that you’ll need to consider is that Seller Central is a platform for you to sell directly to the Amazon customer as a third-party seller, and Vendor Central is a platform where you sell your products to an Amazon employed buyer who then sells your products for you. Each of these two platforms has pluses and minuses that you’ll want to consider before jumping into one or the other.
The strengths and weaknesses of online marketing with Amazon: The two platforms
Seller Central Key Points
Seller Central allows for the most control by you as you’re selling directly to the consumer from end-to-end of the sales cycle. This means you’ll have access to Analytics and reporting that you’re not going to get on Vendor Central. This option alone allows you to refine your sales strategy beyond what you could hope to do on the other platform.
From Seller Central, you have a couple of options for how you’ll fulfill the orders you receive. You can handle the customer relations, shipping, and returns yourself or you can sign up for the FBA which will allow Amazon to do some of this legwork for you.
Working in the Seller Central campaigns allows for a much tighter and focused campaign. This will pay dividends for those willing to put in the time to work with your keywords, negatives, and pricing as you’ll be better able to target your product to a much more focused audience. Honestly, while the process is simple enough, it does require you to piece more information together than something like Google Ads. Reporting gives you enough to make good decisions, but often I personally wish it was in a more concise and compiled format.
While of the two options it’s probably going to be the most comfortable to someone coming from say Google Ads, it does have key differences that will throw you through a loop until you understand the KPI’s of online marketing with Amazon are in things like ACOS (advertising cost of sales) and not the KPI’s you’re used to.
Below are some of the key bullet points I would look at before jumping into Seller Central.
- + More control of products throughout the sales cycle
- + Communication directly with your buyer
- + Fulfillment options
- + Analytics access to your campaigns which allows for things like more refined pricing, keywords, and placements
- + Open to anyone
- + AMS (Amazon Marketing Services)
- + Flexible logistical options
- + Quick payment terms
- + Brand controls retail pricing
- + Enhanced Brand Content
- – Complex sales process means you’ll spend more time selling your products
- – More fees
Vendor Central Key Points
Vendor Central is a platform most commonly used by manufacturers and distributors as you’re dealing with items in a bulk sense and not handling the smaller individual sales. This is accomplished by selling your products to an Amazon employed buyer who in turn sells your products for you. A key point in working with Vendor Central is that you can’t just create an account and start selling as it’s reserved for invitation-only sellers. With Vendor Central you’ll find you are much more hands-off, which can be a good thing if you’re wanting to focus on other aspects of your marketing. Another key point for choosing Vendor Central is that your products are tagged with the “sold by Amazon” seal which can lead to a boost in sales.
- – Invite only
- + Sell to Amazon and let them sell your product for you
- – Set logistical options means you have to maintain adequate stock as well as have a small turnaround on order fulfillment to avoid chargebacks
- + Traditional payment terms
- – Amazon controls retail pricing
- + Multiple advertising options
- + Traditional sales process
- + A content which provides additional ways to create enhanced content. Also offers options such as promotional programs as well as the subscribe and save option.
- + AMS (Amazon Marketing Services)
- + Pay one flat fee per month
- – Amazon sets the pricing for your product with no minimum
- + Lots of inventory and good fulfillment options
- + Doesn’t like new products because there is no product history
- – Limited advertising options as you’re not actually promoting your products
As you can see from the above comparison, Seller and Vendor Central are two vastly different platforms. While both offer you a new leg to your online marketing strategy, both also need consideration when planning on how you want to sell your products. If you’re a company that wants to ensure you’re getting the very best bang for your buck and don’t mind the extra legwork, Seller Central might just be the option for you as it allows for precise pricing and customer relations not found in Vendor Central. If you’re just wanting to get the product out and not have to worry about everything from customer service to shipping, then Vendor Central might be a good fit. Either way, online marketing with Amazon is an option that I encourage companies to at least try as it’s not going away anytime soon and is only continuing to grow.
Come back and join me next month where I’ll be writing on Facebook marketing and becoming Facebook certified. See you there.
About the Author –
Mikel Reynolds has been working in the I.T. and marketing fields for 20 plus years. He has done everything from being a trainer/teacher for a community college to web and application development. He has also done most forms of online and/or grassroots marketing to search engine optimization, as well as pretty much everything in between. He knows there is always more to learn.