Amazon is one of the first places consumers go when they want to make a purchase online. In fact, 55% of online shoppers say they check Amazon first when searching for products, a higher percentage than people who use a search engine as their primary source for online shopping searches.

With 300 million active users in more than 180 countries worldwide, it’s no secret why so many consumers use Amazon as their starting point.

Having a presence on Amazon is a critical part of many businesses’ online sales strategy. Before you begin strategizing though, it is important to understand the differences between Amazon Seller Central and Amazon Vendor Central, two basic types of seller accounts. The one you choose can have important implications for your Amazon sales.

Amazon Seller Central

With this account, you sell products directly to consumers through the Amazon marketplace. Individuals and professional sellers, known as third-party Amazon sellers, can set up this type of account. As a vendor with an Amazon Seller account, you have full control to set the pricing for your products.

Professional seller accounts require a monthly fee, but many opt to pay this cost to get analytics tools, preferential marketing, and other important features that help businesses scale up over time. With Seller Central, you set up and maintain your account.

You can choose from two fulfillment options through Seller Central:

  • Seller-Fulfilled Prime or Merchant-Fulfilled Network – You handle all the shipping, customer service, and returns on your own or through a third-party logistics (3PL) company.
  • Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) – Amazon handles product fulfillment, customer service, and returns. Listings will include “Fulfilled by Amazon” on product pages.

Amazon Vendor Central

With this account, distributors and direct manufacturers sell products to Amazon in bulk (as a wholesaler), and Amazon takes care of all the consumer-facing activities. Amazon does inventory management and determines retail pricing as well as any promotional prices. You have no say in the price that Amazon decides to set for products under this arrangement.

Additionally, the payment process is longer and more traditional than for Seller Central accounts since more established distributors or wholesalers usually participate in this arrangement.

Who is eligible for each type of account?

One of the key differences between Seller Central and Vendor Central accounts is who can sign up. Amazon Seller Central is open to virtually anyone, including individuals with a few items to sell secondhand, work-from-home retailers, and those who own a small or medium-sized business. Established brands and businesses can also set up Seller Central accounts and sell directly to customers.

Amazon Vendor Central accounts, however, are by invitation only, which means most sellers aren’t eligible for these accounts. Vendor Central accounts are often through large retail chains (such as Target or Walmart), as well as distributors and wholesalers who may not have a “brand” but work with a large network of manufacturers.

Benefits of Seller Central and Vendor Central

If you have a choice between the two (meaning that you are large enough to get invited to Vendor Central), it’s important to know the benefits of each.

The benefits of Amazon Seller Central include:

  • Account control– You maintain full control of your seller account and all branding.
  • Quick payments – Amazon payments are fast and simple based on your sales, minus fees.
  • Pricing control– You control all pricing and promotions for products.
  • Accessibility – Anyone can sign up for an Amazon Seller Central account.
  • Flexibility – You control all logistics or can hire any 3PL company.

The benefits of Amazon Vendor Central include:

  • More robust analytics reports for everything from packaging to product performance.
  • Demand forecast graphs, sales and investor summaries, which can help you see what products sell best.
  • Ease of selling with no vendor involvement since Amazon takes care of almost everything (pricing, promotion, sales and fulfillment).

Other marketing-related benefits are available with both Seller Central and Vendor Central accounts. However, at an added cost, Amazon Vendor Central accounts receive enhanced benefits, such as:

  • More options for running ad campaigns and sponsored content with Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)
  • More detailed product pages
  • Your own brand or store page
  • Participation in Amazon Vine to collect verified reviews

Vendor Central also provides a streamlined approach. You sell products to Amazon, and they take care of:

  • Customer service
  • Returns
  • Lost inventory
  • Taxes and other liabilities
  • Forward and reverse logistics

As noted above, Vendor Central products are listed as “sold by Amazon” in the descriptions, which can boost consumer confidence and increase sales as well.

Protect Your Brand

Both Amazon Seller Central and Amazon Vendor Central offer the opportunity to enroll in Amazon’s Brand Registry. Amazon’s website outlines all the requirements to enroll. Doing so allows you to better showcase your brand through imagery and content, run sponsored ads, and protect against counterfeit products or inaccurate listings.

How to optimize your Amazon marketplace storefront

If you choose Amazon Seller Central, it’s important to optimize your listings to show up on the site. With more than 4,000 products sold every minute by small and medium-sized businesses on Amazon, you can’t afford to blend in.

To achieve maximum sales:

  • Use catchy, succinct, and accurate titles of no more than 60 characters.
  • Include keywords in the ASIN catalog data (customers won’t see these).
  • Keep descriptions short and sweet, but informative and accurate.
  • Include multiple high-quality product images.
  • Use bullet points to make it easy to read key information.
  • Research competitors’ prices.
  • Offer free shipping if possible.

Get expert help creating an Amazon storefront

Contact EXTEND GROUP today to get expert help in creating a successful Amazon retail store and learn more about optimizing product pages for maximum impact.