Amazon’s 2015 Vendor Enhancements to Improve 2016 Sales
Amazon in 2015 basically hit a trifecta for growth. First engaging more shoppers in ecommerce and in particular its Amazon Prime memberships, then expanding with new segmented marketplaces like the B2B Amazon Business market place and finally and perhaps most important to CPG is changes in how Amazon engages its 1P (Amazon as seller of record) and 3p (marketplace) vendors.
New Innovations and Twists for Selling on Amazon.com (USA)
- North America Unified Accounts allows vendors to manage their U.S., CA, and MX businesses from a single Seller Central account. This is a critical step to enable vendors to have greater scale and centralized capability to manage product listings, Aplus product pages and content. Vendors in Canada and Mexico where the business is not yet fully scaled were challenged with greater complexity and resourcing requirements due to language (French and English required in Canada) and logistics complexity in both Canada and Mexico due to geographic diversity of those markets.
- Seller Fulfilled Prime expands access to Amazon Prime (without FBA Fulfilled by Amazon) for trusted 3p vendors/sellers who can fulfill their own products and guarantee fast, free shipping. In 2015 this program had already reached over 500k listings worldwide.
This enabled more retailers and brands to join the wave of shopper traffic to Amazon including Payless Shoes, Bluefly, Jewelry.com and Pep Boys and a number of major brands.
- Criteria to be included in this program include:
- Customers, Amazon, and delivery personal must have 100% ability to track packages
- Daily Carrier pick up – an agreement with a shipping company to stop at your warehouse daily
- The seller must sell 30 premium orders a month
- The seller must maintain a rating of 4.5 stars or better
- On-time delivery must be greater than 97%
- Seller must fulfill 99% of the orders
- Seller must fill out application with a 10 day waiting period
- Criteria to be included in this program include:
- Amazon Prime Day aka Christmas in July, with Amazon and its sellers offering thousands of deals to customers. 2015’s Amazon Prime Day was generally a success in boosting traffic, sales, and most importantly, Prime Memberships.
- Amazon Lending (U.K. and India only to start) provides business loans to “invited” sellers on Amazon to help them grow their business (on Amazon)
- Amazon FBA Small and Light Program with free 4-8 day shipping of items less than eight ounces priced under $10.
- Sponsored Products expanded visibility for this paid marketing and promotion tool for sellers to reach more customers including the first row of Search, Mobile Shopping App, and a second Product Detail Page carousel. Sponsored Products also expanded its seller toolkit to help sellers save time and money managing their Amazon advertising spend, including Bid+, an API, and Bulk Sheet uploads.
- Seller Central Pricing Dashboard provides added functionality for sellers to review and act on a variety of Amazon generated recommendations to help adjust their pricing [lower] in real time. It’s not clear what the FTC sees in this regarding cross retailer price fixing, but it brings further price optimisation capability to smaller sellers.
- 3p sellers can now add Estimated Delivery Dates on offer listing pages instead of just at checkout improves shopper choice and decision making experience.
- Amazon Selling Coach on the Amazon Seller App brings mobile functionality to sellers to review and act on sourcing recommendations within the app to help on-the-go sellers manage their businesses from mobile devices.
- Amazon Build International Listings tool enables US and EU vendors to manage product listings, offers, and content, pricing and improve offer translation across international marketplaces.
- The “Lite” Product Listing Templates simplifies and speeds product listings by reducing the number of attributes required to list new items. This is particularly useful for sellers who leverage existing brand content from the brand owners instead of having to duplicate and mess with brand IP.
- Inventory Planning tools is Amazon’s entry into better engaging a broad cross section of sellers into something closer to VMI . The Inventory Planning tools provide key inventory metrics, highlights opportunities to improve inventory efficiency and in-stock rates, and provide insights to help sellers take action to improve their inventory performance and thus vendor ratings. Adoption and improvement of this process will help vendors who have been swamped with penalties and deductions by Amazon for a procurement system that is often broken through no fault of vendors.
Amazon has been busy and is moving in the right direction even if selfishly. If you sell on Amazon or are contemplating doing so, learning the many different tools and rules for Amazon that are so different than “traditional” retail like Kroger or Walmart will be critical to your organization. Solving issues and problems in selling to Amazon can drain your energy, commitment and economics. In fact this is often a cause for brands to by pass selling to Amazon to selling on Amazon as a 3p seller with greater control over prices, content, and visibility (more on this later.)
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