May 9th, 2023
So, you bit the bullet and decided to join the world’s most rapidly expanding marketplace. Congratulations! You’ve done your research, scoured the internet for helpful information on becoming a seller, and are ready to bring your brand to Amazon. Before you get started, there is one last decision to make: are you better off selling on Amazon Seller or Vendor Central?
While Vendor Central is an invite-only program, if your performance exceeds Amazon’s expectations within the first few months, an invitation may be on its way. Seller Central doesn’t require an invite to get started.
Whether you stick to Seller Central or embark on the Vendor Central journey, Amazon is bursting with potential business opportunities for you as a seller. Not sure which option is right for you? Our team of Amazon experts are here to help you navigate the many features of the Amazon platform no matter which “Central” you choose.
A Quick Introduction: Amazon.com Seller Central and Vendor Central
The beauty of Seller Central is that everyone is invited to use this selling platform. Once you get over the initial learning curve, it is a user-friendly platform that gives you deep insights into inventory planning and comprehensive tools to track your revenue, sales velocity, and ad spend.
Unlike Seller Central, Vendor Central is strictly invite-only. Amazon frequently scans the marketplace to see which products are selling well and generating high revenue. If your product ranks well and maintains above-average performance metrics, you will likely be invited by Amazon’s retail team to become a Vendor Central seller. From here, you can choose to either accept or reject their invitation.
Here is a quick look at the major differences between the two platforms:
Seller Central Amazon
- Open to anyone
- Sell directly to Amazon's customers
- Handle your own customer service
- Flexible logistical options
- Quick payment terms
- Control over retail pricing
- Limited advertising options
- Complex sales process
Vendor Central Amazon
How Does Amazon Seller Central Work?
As a Seller Central account owner, you are considered a third-party Amazon seller (3P) and are responsible for maintaining the overall health of your account. This is done by controlling your supply chain, managing your inventory levels, handling customer service, and abiding by Amazon’s approved packaging and delivery methods to maintain positive performance metrics.
Since Sellers operate as independent retailers within the Amazon Marketplace, they typically enjoy greater control over their business activities on the platform. A huge benefit to selling via Seller Central is your ability to control pricing. Sellers are free to set their own prices and can control the pricing thresholds with just a click of a button.
Sellers can also adjust their prices at their own discretion without the pushback or lengthy approval periods that an Amazon Vendor Central user would typically face. This allows Seller Central users to capitalize on high-demand periods and offer sales whenever they have a surplus of inventory, without having to wait on Amazon’s approval.
While Amazon currently offers both individual and professional seller accounts, most businesses tend to opt for a professional seller account. This option offers comprehensive analytics tools, preferential treatment at times, and many other features that come in handy to a professional Amazon seller who is on a mission to scale their business.
Seller Central (3P): Pros & Cons
How Does Amazon Vendor Central Work?
As an Amazon Vendor Central seller, you are considered a first-party (1P) seller with a traditional vendor-seller relationship. In this scenario, Amazon acts as the retailer and you act as the vendor supplying Amazon warehouses with the merchandise they need.
Amazon Vendor Central is most often used by direct manufacturers and distributors. Since Vendor Central is strictly invitation only, you will not be invited to participate as a vendor until you meet certain benchmarks as a Seller Central account holder.
Most often, , sellers start with Seller Central to build customer loyalty and establish a presence on Amazon. This may entice Amazon to extend an invitation to the Vendor Central program and give big brands a chance to buy their product in bulk.
If a company is selling on Vendor Central, you will see a “ships from and sold by Amazon” marker on their product detail page. On Vendor Central, customer service related queries and issues are handled by Amazon’s experienced support team.
While this can be a time-saving benefit, urgent issues may ocassionally prove to be problematic. Without control over customer service, Vendor Central sellers must rely on Amazon’s support staff to handle customer communication.
Vendor Central (1P): Pros & Cons
A Hybrid Approach - The Best of Both Worlds
Some businesses choose to sell on both Vendor and Seller Central to leverage the unique benefits of each platform. Many manufacturers are adopting this hybrid approach by first using Seller Central to quickly list and sell their products.
This allows sellers to gain traction and accumulate reviews from Amazon customers while providing outstanding, personalized customer service. Establishing their reputation on Amazon gives sellers the chance to get ahead of their competition by providing an exceptional product and an unforgettable customer experience.
Once a product is well-established, sellers that are eligible for Vendor Central will transition the SKU over to their vendor account. From here, they fulfill the Purchase Orders placed by Amazon. With an established sales history, these POs should increase in quantity and frequency, giving you more time to maintain your listings and advertising. Oftentimes, Amazon will offer additional support to high-performing sellers with healthy accounts.
Be sure to avoid selling the same ASIN in both programs. Amazon is taking action to remove the Seller Central privileges of those who operate simultaneous Seller and Vendor Central accounts for the same product. To prevent issues and delays, always make a clean cutoff with Seller Central before transitioning to Vendor Central, and make sure you are fully up-to-date on Amazon's policies.
When in Doubt, Just Reach Out
Not sure which approach is right for you? If you want to learn more about setting up a Vendor Central and Seller Central account and grow your business, contact our Amazon Consulting Experts. We are happy to answer your questions and get you set up with a strategy that helps you gain visibility, sales, and loyal customers on Amazon. Learn more today!