When you read up on guides as an Amazon seller, you will see a lot of people talking about Amazon Seller Central. This is the platform that most people use for listing and selling products, but it is not the only way to get products onto Amazon.
Amazon Vendor Central is another platform you may have heard of. Understandably, a lot of people get them confused or think they are different names for the same thing. This is not the case, and there are some key differences. Read on to explore those differences, and whether Seller Central or Vendor Central is for you.
In truth, the decision of whether you’re using Seller Central or Vendor Central is taken out of your hands. The accounts are different based on who will be buying your products.
Vendor Central is a platform for manufacturers and retailers to sell “first party”. The retail team on Amazon buys your products in bulk and resells them onto their customer platform. Amazon takes the responsibility of listing and selling the items.
Seller Central is the platform you use to directly sell to Amazon customers. You may be creating listings or competing for the buy box on existing listings. You can take charge of the selling, and either use FBM (fulfilled by merchant) or FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) shipping methods.
Because the two are so different, it is vital to understand what each offer, and the types of business the accounts serve.
Amazon Seller Central is the webspace for merchants to sell products. Joining Seller Central is relatively simple, and once you have an account you are a third-party seller, or a marketplace seller, so you can sell things on Amazon’s marketplace, whether it is brand new products or second-hand books.
As we’ve already mentioned, you can choose to sell using FBA, qualifying you to use Amazon Prime delivery. This also saves time as you can send your products on bulk to Amazon warehouses and have their staff pick and pack. However, it does also mean that you run the risk of warehouse fees.
If you don’t use FBA, you need to commit to FBM, which means handling the orders yourself or using a third-party fulfilment center to pack and ship the orders. You also will not show up on searches for just Amazon Prime unless you have a merchant-fulfilled Prime strategy.
Vendor Central is used by manufacturers and other product distributors. This is not something you can sign up for yourself without being invited. Usually, people who end up with access to Vendor Central are there because Amazon has reached out and asked them to be a partner or a “first-party seller”.
Instead of selling individual products from Seller Central, Vendor Central allows you to sell in bulk to the buying team on Amazon.
When you see a product listing that says “ships from and sold by Amazon.com” you can be pretty sure that this is from a direct vendor, who have sold to Amazon wholesale using Vendor Central.
Unless you get invited to the Vendor Central platform then there is little point in making too much of a comparison, but generally speaking, there are some pros and cons to both.
Seller Central is so open and accessible. It’s great for casual sellers or those who just want to do a little bit of FBM selling part-time as a side hustle. It’s also the solution that many small businesses use to get their products on Amazon and retain a lot of control over product listings.
Vendor Central is often for big players. If you’re manufacturing a huge volume of items or run a global distribution business then you may well feel that a Vendor account is more suitable. This would enable you to gain some reliable and sizeable contracts with Amazon, selling in bulk rather than just a trickle.
It’s easy to see why so many people covet a Vendor account. Once you’ve sold a bulk of items to Amazon, they are responsible for selling it on to customers. This is one of many ways to minimize risk.
So, should you be happy with your Seller Central account or are you one of those sellers who should be eagerly awaiting an invite to the Vendor Central platform? Let’s dive into the pros and cons of both.
- Amazon’s help with marketing. As it is in their interests to sell products, they have bought from you
- Simple business model. You can sell products in bulk more easily generating bigger orders and more stability
- You can tap into the trust that Amazon has already established with their customers
- Invite-only. It is not easy to get an account
- You lose quite a lot of control over the listing as Amazon will manage the sales
- Amazon’s control over sales means they can undercut if your product is sold elsewhere
- No invite is needed to sign up and start selling
- Much more control over pricing, product listings, and inventory
- Lots of data provided to tailor ad campaigns
- Negative feedback can result in you losing account health and having your account put into jeopardy
- It can result in a lot more time spent managing orders and listings
The retail operation Amazon runs is unparalleled. It makes perfect sense that there are a number of routes to get products onto Amazon, and while Vendor Central is an invite-only platform, it may be something your business aspires to. In fact, a strong Seller Central account can be a route towards getting a Vendor Central account as your business grows and expands.
Understanding the differences is absolutely crucial, and while Vendor Central can often mean huge orders and revenue, Seller Central has plenty of advantages and allows sellers even more control over their product listings.