Amazon Vendor Express is a program which lets sellers get to a new level of cooperation with Amazon: sell goods not to the final consumers but to the platform itself.
There are three ways of working with Amazon:
- Seller Central, which we’re all used to and work with it. In this case, you sell goods on Amazon as a third party. There are a monthly fee and a referral fee for each sold item (check out FBA Fees).
- Vendor Central, an invite-only program. Huge famous brands work using this model, they are the suppliers of the product for Amazon and it is selling everything to the final customers. The participants have an access to Amazon Marketing Services, А+ content, in particular, adding listing video. The participation in the program is free.
- Vendor Express, something in the middle between Seller Central and Vendor Central. Sellers can make an inquiry to participate, and in case they get in, become Amazon vendors. The program doesn’t foresee any additional feel.
Yes, the Vendor Express program participants have a “Sold by Amazon” phrase on a listing. Nevertheless, the program has its pros and cons. First, let’s figure out how to become a vendor. Unlike Vendor Central, in which Amazon decides whom to invite, Vendor Express is a program for any seller from the USA, Germany or the UK.
How to apply to Vendor Express?
- The seller is registering on website vendorexpress.amazon.com. You can use the data from a regular Amazon account but the company recommends to create a separate account.
- After filling out the information about yourself, you have to wait for 5-14 working days. During this period, the access to Vendor Express is limited and you won’t be able to receive orders.
- After confirmation, you have to ship the test carriage of goods, so that Amazon could test the demand the market and create listing material. You won’t be paid for these goods, and the minimum price of the test party is $150.
- Amazon will ask you to name the price at which you want to supply goods to it. Sometimes sellers mention the market price for final buyers as well. In return, the platform names its price. As experience shows, the way Amazon and seller see the price is different but the vendors have to agree on platform’s conditions.
If you work using direct fulfillment model, there’s no need to make a test shipment. Direct Fulfillment is a model of work with Amazon when the orders go to Amazon, it makes shipment labels and the vendor packs and delivers goods from his warehouse. In case of returns, the product comes to the Amazon warehouse and the platform is dealing with the angry clients itself.
As a rule, Amazon deletes most of the photos, shortens texts and “deoptimizes” the listing. Here’s the question: how to get sales with an awful listing so that the Amazon decides there’s enough demand?
The answer is simple: stimulate them and drive external traffic from the outer sources. If you have a website or social network pages — make a sale, for example, 1+1=3. Then the goods will be sold out and you won’t regret it — anyway the whole amount has gone to Amazon for free and the chances to get in Vendor Express will grow.
There’s a way to make a listing normal again — place information on your website like it was before the listing changed and make an inquiry to Amazon to change a listing, that they have incorrect information and should compare with the manufacturer’s website. Sometimes Amazon is changing the product category, in this case, the procedure is the same: contact support.
Sometimes they just add the product to another subcategory (though officially it’s impossible). The process of testing lasts for 4 weeks since the moment of product delivery to Amazon.
Yes, the process of proving the participation is quite long. That’s logical, as otherwise, every second listing would have a “Sold by Amazon” tag.
Let’s take a look at the pros of Vendor Express:
- Everyone can participate. Unlike with Vendor Central, which is invite-only. And Vendor Express participants don’t pay additional fees like Seller Central participants do.
- The platform pays for the delivery to final customers. It doesn’t matter what warehouse the item is shipped from: your or Amazon’s. For Prime members and orders worth more than $49, the delivery is free.
- Amazon takes care of all client service. Not only delivery but also complaints and returns. There’s no need to answer client’s letters anymore, support will handle this 24/7.
- The “Sold by Amazon” phrase on a listing. Take a look at the article which explains how it influences the listing search rank.
- Bigger sale volumes, which means more sales.
- Amazon Marketing Service (AMS). This service lets you make banner ads, detailed sponsored products ads, made brand storefront.
Vendor Express has a row of flaws as well:
- The loss of control over price. You negotiate a price, at which you supply goods but rising it later is almost unreal.
- Free test shipment. To try to get in the program you’ll need to spend at least $150 and this does not guarantee that you’ll get in.
- Delays in income transfers. Officially, Amazon has to transfer funds to vendors every 60-90 days. Usually, it’s 90 days.
- Product returns. Amazon has the right to return the goods without any explanation, and this means loss of money for a vendor. You can appellate this decision but nobody knows how effective that is.
- Sales volume and profit discrepancy. As Amazon is controlling the price, the sales volume may rise but the profit may stay the same.
- Loss of control over the listing. You will be able to make a change only if Amazon approves it.
Vendor Express will increase the sales volume but the profit margin may stay the same because of a price drop. You’ll get rid of customer support but will lose the control over the listing. You decide, become a vendor or not.