A question we hear often from prospective clients relates to the logistics of securing a First Party (1P) vendor invitation from Amazon. There’s plenty of confusion on this topic, too. In online forums the theories range from the paranoid to the simply frustrated. A user on one popular board has said that (per Amazon) “your company needs to boast annual revenue of more than $1 million to qualify for an invite.” Others have maintained that EDI (Electronic Data Integration) is an Amazon requirement — and that deploying EDI is a big hassle and a big expense. Others have posted that Amazon makes more money off of Third Party (3P) Sellers so chances are slim you’ll get an invite if your company is already on their 3P radar. And finally, many companies see nothing but obstacles right out of the gate, starting with where to begin and who to contact to initiate the dialog about an invitation.
Before we get into details of Vendor Central invitations, let’s first address a few of the common misunderstandings. First of all, we have received Vendor Central invites for many companies with annual revenues well below $1 million. Amazon does not set an annual revenue or any other type of financial threshold for an invite. And while it’s true that EDI is encouraged by Amazon, it’s definitely not required. In fact, very few of our clients have yet to deploy EDI via Vendor Central. And finally, we have several clients that enjoy a healthy Amazon relationship selling on both the 3P and 1P seller platforms.
Once you sort out the wrong info and conspiracy theories, the primary problem comes down to communication. To be more clear, companies are basically struggling with where to go, who to ask and what info to provide.
Let’s do a quick refresher on the differences between First-Party (1P) Sellers and Third-Party (3P) Sellers. 3P Sellers do not need an invitation to sell. 3P Sellers essentially manage a virtual storefront on Amazon’s website and handle all aspects of orders processing, fulfillment and returns directly to the end-customer. On the other side, 1P Sellers enjoy a working relationship directly with the Amazon vendor management team (buyers, merchandisers, and inventory specialists) and Amazon is responsible for the logistics (warehousing and shipping) to the end-customer.
Products sold by First-Party vendors are easy to identify. Under the list price on Amazon’s product detail page, 1P products will say “ships and sold by Amazon.com” while 3P products say something like “ships and sold by Company X.” 1P products are typically available for faster shipping and are often part of Amazon’s Prime program, although that’s not always the case thanks to Fulfillment By Amazon or FBA — but that’s another topic for another time.
1P Sellers work directly with Amazon’s team via Vendor Central, an external-facing online interface where brands, their distributors and independent reps like Velocity Marketing go to set up and add products, manage inventory and participate in promotions and merchandising opportunities.
Of course, as hinted at in the title, before companies are able to access Vendor Central to set up detail pages and plan future marketing strategies, they must first receive an invitation directly from the vendor management team at Amazon. This is one of the key areas where a relationship with Velocity Marketing can help you to grow your business.
As a result of our extensive experience with the Amazon team across multiple product categories, we are able to tap into a network of key decision makers at Amazon. Over the years our team has forged positive working relationships with dozens of Divisional Merchandise Managers, Vendor Managers and In-stock Managers. Thanks to the credibility we have earned with Amazon, we are able to obtain vendor invitations with a very high rate of success. Of course, getting the invitation is just the first step.
If you’re feeling lost in the Amazon shuffle, unsettled by bad information online, or if you’re just unsure where or how to begin, we encourage you to give Velocity Marketing some serious consideration. We admit that we’re not right for every company. In fact, our workload has forced our team to become even more selective when evaluating partnerships with prospective clients.
Give us a call or send us an email; we’d be happy to discuss the Vendor Central invite process in more detail when we know more about you and your company.