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If you are looking to expand your brand’s online presence, you may be thinking about launching your brand on Amazon. And to be successful on Amazon, you need to be familiar with the various options available to you as a seller. Vendor Central and Seller Central are the two platforms used by brands selling on Amazon. We’ll take a look at both of these selling options so you can determine whether Vendor Center or Seller Central is right for you.
In general, selling on Amazon is split between first-party and third-party sales. First-party sellers—typically established brands, manufacturers, and distributors—will operate on Vendor Central, and third-party sellers will use Seller Central. Based on your brand’s current situation and goals, there are pros and cons of Vendor Central and Seller Central. When brands use Vendor Central, they sell their products directly to Amazon, and Amazon manages retail pricing and fulfillment. Brands using Seller Central are selling directly to Amazon customers on the Amazon marketplace, and they maintain more control over pricing, fulfillment, marketing, and brand messaging.
It is important for you to think carefully about which option is best for your brand. If you need help with your Amazon sales on Vendor Central or Seller Central, hiring an Amazon seller consultant may be the key to your brand’s success. An agency partner can help you decide what is best for your business, so you can accelerate your Amazon sales as quickly as possible.
So, what is the Seller Central platform? The Seller Central platform is designed for businesses that are selling third-party (3P) on Amazon. If you are a third-party seller using Seller Central on Amazon, then you are responsible for managing your branding, shipping, and logistics. You also set your own retail prices on the Amazon marketplace.
Furthermore, when using Seller Central, you will be in total control of your inventory. Even though having extra control allows you to maintain ownership of your brand, it also comes with a significant amount of responsibility. You may want to take advantage of Amazon Seller Support when you go through the Amazon seller registration process. When you register as an Amazon seller, you need to set up and make sure your listings are properly optimized so that people can find them, and execute your marketing and advertising tactics. Even though you have more control of your brand’s presence on Amazon, you have to do all of this on your own when using Seller Central.
The Seller Central platform on Amazon is open to all brands who want to sell on Amazon. You can sell your products directly to Amazon customers on the marketplace via Seller Central. You will have access to more logistics and fulfillment options (including Amazon FBA) as well as quick payment terms, so you are paid as soon as you make a sale. You are also in control of pricing your products—but will need to monitor other sellers who may break your MAP pricing and be diligent about removing unauthorized sellers.
If you are interested in getting the most out of your Seller Central experience, you may want to work with an experienced partner who can help you maintain brand ownership and brand protection while increasing Amazon sales.
Vendor Central is an invite-only platform reserved for brands and manufacturers. This means that you are essentially a supplier who sells your products to Amazon, which is then responsible for marketing and selling these products on the Amazon marketplace. How do you get invited to Vendor Central? Amazon extends invitations to established, high-performing brands with in-demand products. After receiving the Vendor Central invitation, you need to go through the Amazon vendor registration process.
When you sell via Vendor Central, Amazon will control retail pricing. You sell directly to Amazon via their fixed logistics options. Because you are in a wholesale partnership with Amazon when using Vendor Central, all you have to worry about is the supply of your products. Amazon will be responsible for handling all aspects that affect the customer directly. This eliminates inventory risk from your business because you are selling all your items to Amazon.
The biggest drawback of using Vendor Central is that you surrender complete control of your brand and product sales on Amazon. As a result, you may be dealing with lower margins as well. If you sell at wholesale rates, you give Amazon the power to control your pricing methods—potentially even below your MAP guidelines. Other risks associated with selling on Vendor Central include chargebacks, suppressed listing issues, and strict fulfillment requirements.
If you are interested in switching from Vendor Central to Seller Central, there are several steps you need to follow. The first thing you need to do is to reach out to your Amazon vendor manager. You still have a contractual agreement with Amazon as a vendor, so you need to let them know that you are interested in moving away from the Vendor Central platform to the Seller Central platform.
After this, you will need to create an account on Seller Central. Unlike the Vendor Central program, the Seller Central program is open to the public. Therefore, all you need to do is visit the Seller Central homepage and create an account. There are a few steps involved in this process, so you should be able to go through this relatively quickly.
After this, you will be in control of how you sell and distribute your product. For example, you will need to select the fulfillment option (MFN, FBA, Seller-Fulfilled Prime, dropshipping, etc.) that will specify how you will get your product to your customers. Then, you need to set the pricing of your products. Remember that you will be responsible for managing and forecasting your inventory, content, and advertising—so you need to have a plan in place for this as well.
In general, sellers are more interested in Vendor Central if they are interested in selling their products wholesale to Amazon. They have less control over product pricing. However, they do not have to worry about interacting with customers directly. In contrast, Seller Central is better for companies that are looking to list their products and sell them to customers directly through Amazon. They will have more control over product pricing, marketing content, and inventory management. When switching from Vendor Central to Seller Central, it may be helpful to go through the Amazon Vendor Central tutorial or the Seller Central guide to learn more about each platform. That way, you can figure out if Vendor Central to Seller Central is the right move.
Clearly, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to navigating Amazon. Even though the platform provides Amazon Vendor Central training and Amazon Vendor Central support for sellers, there are some situations where this might not be enough. Remember that there are options available when it comes to Amazon Vendor Central help. Selling on Amazon can be a complicated task. Whether your business decides to operate as a first-party or a third-party seller, it is important for you to optimize all areas of the logistics cycle to maximize your Amazon sales.
A few of the most important components you need to think about include marketing, pricing, shipping, inventory, and margins. If you decide to sell first-party via Vendor Central, it can be helpful to partner with a professional organization that can help you get the most out of your Amazon experience and manage the day-to-day tasks that come with selling 1P.
At SupplyKick, we are experienced in navigating the complexities of Amazon—on Vendor Central and Seller Central. We are dedicated to growing our partners’ marketplace sales so they can focus on other important aspects of running their business. Contact us to discuss a wholesale or agency partnership and learn how you can move your brand forward on Amazon.