Amazon has started to advise Suppliers with Vendor Central Accounts that they will no longer have a Vendor Manager to support their business. Instead they are being shifted over to The Vendor Success Portal (VSP).
In real terms, this means that Brand Management Teams and Senior Executives will no longer have a go-to or be able to arrange face-to-face discussions with someone at Amazon.
Amazon Vendor Managers can be tricky and demanding to deal with at the best of times. Supportive yes, but on their own terms. With Selling on Amazon being often referred as a ‘Black Art’, the reliance by Retailers on the Vendor Managers is huge, as selling on Amazon can be incredibly complex and ever-changing. You have to bear in mind that every Vendor Manager has often hundreds of brands to deal with. Getting hold of someone can be arduous in times of need.
Amazon operates on an 80/20 rule. They support and interact with the top 20% of vendors while the other 80%, or “tail end” vendors, are left to their own devices.
Options are likely to remain to ‘Buy an Amazon Contact’ with the Annual Fee of £150,000 + VAT for ‘Strategic Vendor Services (SVS)’ or ‘SVS Lite’ packages, which in the past has given you a part-time (but still not entirely self-focusing) In-Amazon agent, but these types of arrangements are under increased scrutiny these days. Do you see that money back really? Also, how much of the SVS Services can you outsource locally to consultants (Such as PG) at a fraction of the cost anyway. So now, the news that even a brand with GMV over £1 Million PA may find itself without a Vendor Manager is significant. Do you really want to go to computer-generated agreements and automated Purchase Orders with no single point of contact to ring up? What about Marketing or Accounts queries? It would appear the case that Amazon are merging staff jobs from Vendor over to the significantly more successful Seller Central Side. If you haven’t been moved yet, then how sure can you be that you may not be shifted in the near future?
Since the offset of the two platforms, there has seemingly always been the Vendor vs Seller Central Debate, with many brands bucking the trend and opting for the ever-increasingly popular B2C (Brand-to-Consumer) direct market. If you don’t need to remain anonymous then the advantages of switching to Seller Central can be significant. The key ones are;
- Control the Purchase Price – You set your RRPs, Discounts, Promotions, Vouchers, Lightening Deal and Sale prices yourself
- Control the Selection – No missing unsellable variations due to Amazon not purchasing. You set the inventory levels in your DC.
- Communication with Buyers – You have a direct relationship with each and every customer so you get to hear the good and the bad first hand.
- Increased Revenue – Wholesale margins are typically far less than Seller margins.
- Take control of supply – if all the listings are on Seller Central it is easier to ensure no fakes, copies or poorly-represented products are sold
- Take the Hybrid Model – If you can split brands, sub-brands or product ranges to a part-Vendor, part-Seller Central model, then the Hybrid gives you insights – and a safety net – into both avenues.
Any serious brand should consider selling on Amazon through the third-party marketplace, either in partnership with an authorised reseller that is completely versed in best practices, or as direct seller B2C. Either way Percy Group may be tasked to be the Second Office, taking the pain away, speeding up any transition and giving the Brand owner full service Revenue Intelligence where it matters to drive the business forward.
“Take Back Control” is a phrase since Brexit that makes a lot of people (including the author) cringe. It may soon have a different meaning for your Amazon Business.
This article was written by CEO Roger Percy