In early March, brands operating via Vendor Central received a variety of messages indicating Amazon was moving their products from Vendor Central to Seller Central, stopping all purchase orders, or citing “technical issues” within the ordering system.
For brands who operate their business via Vendor Central (with or without a Vendor Central Manager) the abrupt change was perplexing, to say the least.
Luckily, in the weeks to follow orders resumed and Amazon suggesting the pause was an attempt to combat counterfeit products and sellers.
Although we can’t say with complete certainty why Amazon limited Purchase Orders in March, concerns are back on the rise due to an article published by Bloomberg earlier this week stating:
“In the next few months, bulk orders will dry up for thousands of mostly smaller suppliers, according to three people familiar with the plan. Amazon’s aim is to cut costs and focus wholesale purchasing on major brands like Procter & Gamble, Sony and Lego, the people said. That will ensure the company has adequate supplies of must-have merchandise and help it compete with the likes of Walmart, Target and Best Buy.”
On Tuesday, Amazon issued a response via Twitter to the Bloomberg article:
But regardless of what the future holds – brands should take a moment to consider the long-term vision for their business on the Marketplace.
We spoke with own in-house experts at Tinutiti to get their take.
Amazon Advertising Experts Chime In
“As we saw earlier in the year, this type of shift without notice caused a lot of scare for businesses. If this is the route Amazon is going to take, businesses need to quickly review alternatives and determine how they can best sell on the marketplace.”
“Whatever the solution may be, this is going to impact business goals for 2019 and may lead to an expansion in other marketplaces at a greater rate, which may work against Amazon’s intentions here. I believe there is an opportunity for a new business to evolve as the distribution middle-man for smaller businesses that do not have a distribution center of their own.”
– Tanya Zadoorian, Marketplace Channel Analyst at Tinuiti
“The most important consideration for brands here, as always, is not to panic. It’s no secret that Amazon’s goal is to impose more control over how brands interact with the Marketplace as either Sellers or Vendors and to push more brands into a self-service relationship. With that in mind, it’s not a matter of if but when Amazon begins to transition some Vendors.”
“Vendors, especially those doing less than $10MM on Amazon, are best served by being prepared and having a gameplan for this eventuality. That gameplan should cover inventory planning, advertising, operational considerations, and new ASIN creation. While brands can’t control when and how Amazon decides to govern the Marketplace, they can control how prepared they are for change.”
– Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace Strategy at Tinuiti
“With the uncertainty of whether a vendor will be part of the possible change, composure and following best practices are essential. Plan for the possibility and strategize with all parts of the company, but do not forego the current business. Prime Day and Holiday are just around the corner and strong planning are key, along with the possibility of the change in your arrangement with Amazon.”
– Eric Kauss, Manager, Vendor Operations at Tinuiti
How Do Amazon Vendors Transition to Seller Central?
In the event Amazon has completely stopped issuing POs and is now encouraging your brand to shift to Seller Central, here’s what you should know:
1. Adopting Seller Central is not hard, but if you haven’t done it before, the process is bound to create an element of fear.
As experts in the Amazon space, we completely understand this concern. The good news is Amazon has a plan for your brand and they are already taking steps to shut down Seller listings & accounts for brands they don’t want to be sellers. Now, they’re taking the same step in the opposite direction for brands they don’t want to be Vendors.
2. Amazon is setting the stage for the launch of “One Vendor”
Amazon is preparing for the combined Vendor / Seller portal (now being referred to as One Vendor). This portal will dictate how Amazon wants you to sell on the platform. They’re putting brands in the appropriate buckets now to ease the launch of that program.
3. Seller Central was designed from the start to be self-service, so everything Amazon has developed is meant to ease the adoption process.
Vendor Central originally developed to do the bare minimum that needs to be done for you to sell the product to Amazon and walk away. But Amazon Seller Central is built on self-service & automation; the quicker brands can adapt the less painful the process is going to be in the long term.
How To Execute A Successful Seller Central Launch Strategy
Tinutit makes decades of Amazon selling expertise available to brands in order to best support the launch of your Amazon Seller Central account.
Coverage includes but is not limited to what’s below:
- Seller Central Walkthrough and UI Training
- Inventory Hydration and Feed File setup/submission
- FBA Training – how you should ship, label and evaluate the profitability of fulfilling through Amazon
- ASIN Matching and Catalog Setup – parent/child relationships, merging etc.
- Best in Class 3rd Party Tool Suite – what platforms/tools are must-haves for 3P sellers and what metrics should you pay attention
- Content and Page optimization best practices
- Deploying customer services the right way and relaying account health best practices
- Competitive Analysis and Research Best Practices
1) Seller Central Account Setup
Tinutit will guide you through the registration process. Amazon requires a lot of documentation to start an account. Amazon requires documentation on the business, manufacturing/sourcing information, HAZMAT, and more to ensure you have products that are allowed to be sold on the marketplace.
Product Listings: Tinuiti will work closely with your team to ensure we have all the necessary information and regulatory identifiers to list your products. Amazon has an abundance of legacy listings which may already have ownership of Product Titles, UPCs, and other product information. The Consulting team will help get your products uploaded to Amazon correctly.
Brand Registry: For any brand that is serious about protecting its messaging, image, and developing brand equity on the channel, Brand Registry is the key to being successful. Tinuiti will aid in having the correct Trademark information for Brand Registry and will allow for full control of product listings. Once Brand Registered, you will be able to add Enhanced Brand Content on pages, build Storefronts, and have tools to remove unauthorized sellers.
2. FBA Training & Setup
Key to any high-performing seller is a well-informed, efficient fulfillment process to avoid fees and delays in inventory availability.
Available upon request, we can provide in-depth training for you and your team on the pick, pack, and ship process as well as how to navigate Seller Central as it relates to inventory management. Our report informs how much inventory you should be sending into Amazon FC’s to maintain rank and avoid stockouts.
3. Promotional & Merchandising Strategy
We provide the strategy to determine when it makes sense to take advantage of specific deal formats. Based off of factors like seasonality, sales velocity, product type, and marketing budget, we advise on the right promotion at the right time.
4. New Product Launches
As you build out your product line, it’s critical to give each new listing the best possible chance to succeed on the Amazon Marketplace. The goal of our product launch strategy is to rapidly impact sales velocity in order to strengthen the connection between your ASINs and their most valuable search terms.
Using advanced URL tracking, advertising, promotional, and discounting strategies, we can effectively influence a newly-launched product’s sales momentum to drive high organic positions early on.
5. Advertising Strategy & Management
CAPx: Tinuiti’s Proprietary Amazon Ad Tech: We developed our own programmatic ad management platform specifically designed for Amazon’s primary advertising products, Sponsored Products, and Amazon Marketing Services. This allows us to drive ad performance for unique business objectives, harvest and optimize for search terms efficiently, and effectively analyze performance trends over time.
Sponsored Products Execution: With the right campaign structure, testing framework, and bid management processes in place, Sponsored Products has proven to be an impactful lever in manufacturing “keyword– ASIN” relationships.
Product Rank Tracking Approach: To most accurately track product rank trends, we developed proprietary rank tracking software specifically for Amazon listings. We deliver on monitoring and analyzing product rank for your top-performing ASINs against specific, key terms and the activities that drive performance swings
For more on how Tinutit can assist your brand with the transition to Seller Central, email [email protected]