Seller Central VS Vendor Central: What's the difference, and which should you choose?

Selling on Amazon can be a confusing business with the number of options available to choose from. Even determining whether to sell on Seller Central or Vendor Central can be a tricky decision if you aren’t aware of the differences between the two. 

For those unaware, Seller Central is a platform used by brands or merchants to market and sell their products on Amazon. You sell your products directly to customers, by either sending your products to Amazon’s fulfilment centres who handle both shipping and returns to customers – known as Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) – or you can choose to be responsible for all shipping, handling, and customer service and sell straight from your business to the customer – known as Fulfilment by Merchant (FBM). Choosing either way to sell via Seller Central comes with benefits.  

Fulfilled By Amazon merchants have automatic access to Amazon Prime customers who tend to spend more on Amazon as a whole. 

US Amazon Prime members spend on average $1,400 every year, compared to $600 by non-Prime members (as of January 2019)

Amazon Prime also gives FBA an advantage in winning the buy box; the area on a product’s detail page that allows the shopper to add items to the shopping cart. If multiple sellers offer the same product, Amazon favours sellers with Prime (amongst other factors like stock, price and reviews, of course).

On the other hand, Fulfilled By Merchant sellers do not accrue Amazon fulfilment fees. Those using Amazon fulfilment centres must pay a fee for storing products there and the fee depends on the size of the product and duration they stay in the facility. If used correctly, FBM sellers may offer higher profit margins as there are more areas where fees might accrue but might amount to less overall. Another positive of FBM is that you will have more control over how you send your merchandise to your customers meaning you can make orders appear more personalised in order to improve repeat custom. FBM sellers can also achieve the Prime badge through seller fulfilled Prime (SFP), yet there are many rules and guidelines from Amazon, most importantly consistently prompt deliveries. If you can achieve Prime status without using FBA then the fees to Amazon would be far less.

Half of all merchandise sold on Amazon comes from third-party sellers (Seller Central)

The other selling platform on Amazon is Vendor Central. This platform is typically used by manufacturers and distributors. Vendors supply products in bulk directly to Amazon, who then sell the product onto the customer under their own brand name, ultimately becoming a distributer for the product. This means that once the products enter Amazon’s warehouse, responsibility for them falls to Amazon, making this form of account highly attractive to any seller who is uninterested in being hands on or dealing with customer service. Amazon Retail will do this for you. However, Vendor Central is an invite-only option and Amazon ultimately controls the pricing of the product. This means that if your product is a highly sought-after item that will sell well for a good price then Vendor Central may be the perfect approach for you.

In short, the difference between Seller Central and Vendor Central is who you intend to sell to. Seller Central is for merchants to sell directly to customers either using Amazon’s fulfilment centres or their own warehouse, whereas Vendor Central is to directly sell to Amazon. Although most businesses will find themselves starting off as a Seller Central Account, the invitation to Vendor Central does not mean that it is better to use. Seller Central gives you more control over their product such as price and analytics, meaning whether FBA or FBM, those with a more hands-on marketing strategy may find this account more fruitful. Whereas those who want a simpler focus on selling their products to Amazon without the worry of chargebacks might find a Vendor Account more suitable. If efficiently managed, sellers can take a hybrid approach and sell both on Seller Central and Vendor Central ultimately benefiting from both, but this would require a good team to run both efficiently.

Seller Account 

 

More freedom to control and be proactive with promotions

More in-depth sales reporting

Multiple fulfilment options (FBA, SFP, FBM)

High fulfilment & storage costs (if using FBA)

Can control retail pricing

Access to Brand Analytics
Able to support customers via messaging Access to Early Reviewer Program

Vendor Account 

 

Sell products to Amazon who then sell to the customer

Limited control over product pricing

Fulfilment to customer handled by Amazon (unless unless Drop Ship)

Slower Payment terms

Access to all possible search ads

Access to ARA Premium (for a cost)

Able to request Marketing Packages  Access to Amazon Vine 
   

If unsure about which account would work for you and your products, Molzi can provide you and your company bespoke Amazon training sessions to help you decide. Equally, if needed, Molzi can also manage your Amazon accounts to help you grow your business online either through a vendor account, seller account, or a mixture of both to optimise your profits.

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