Know the difference – Amazon Vendor Central vs Amazon Seller Central

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Everyone who sells on Amazon should be familiar with Seller Central. It’s the place where they manage their listings and makes it possible to sell directly to Amazon customers. It’s the go-to for making a new listing or managing existing ones. 

However, what about the lesser-known Vendor Central? What’s the difference? What platform should a seller use? It’s enough to keep you up at night.

That’s what we’re going to look into today. 

The Big Difference 

Let’s start with the biggest difference between the two platforms. This is likely what will decide whether Vendor Central or Seller Vendor is for you.

The difference between Vendor Central and Seller Central is simply who is doing the selling. With Seller Central, the seller sells directly to the Amazon customer either through FBM or FBA. It offers the flexibility to manage your Amazon marketplace, including the price and inventory.

Vendor Central, on the other hand, the seller isn’t selling their products directly to the customer. They’re selling typically bulk orders of their product to Amazon. Amazon then resells the product to their customers. While this is a quick way to move whole inventories, it also comes with a loss of control.

The bottom line is that Seller Central gives third-party sellers a lot of control over the selling process. Vendor Central provides instant credibility and quick revenue. 

And although this is the biggest difference, let’s take a look at how else the platforms differ. 

Amazon Seller Central 

This is the platform most of us who work with Amazon are familiar with. It enables independent sellers to sell directly to Amazon customers. 

Independent sellers are responsible for more than half of everything sold on the platform. 

These third-party sellers work through Seller Central. They’re responsible for creating their product listings, Amazon storefronts, and are the essential digital retailer. Whether you’re a brand owner or another vendor, you’re most likely working with this platform. 

Here are some quick facts on Seller Central: 

  • You sell directly to Amazon Customers
  • You control the pricing structure
  • You either ship products yourself or use FBA
  • You have full control of what you’re selling 
  • Inventory Management is your choice 
  • You are responsible for your own advertising 
  • It’s open to anyone

Most of the sellers that operate through this platform are either smaller sellers or those invested in the direct control of their sales. Additionally, most of these sellers are using Fulfillment by Amazon for their shipping and storage needs.

If you’re interested in this option, take a look at our guide on how to leverage FBA for online sales success. 

Amazon Vendor Central 

Vendor Central is a more specialized platform that connects manufacturers and customers. Which is typically beyond smaller individual sellers. Rather than selling directly to a customer, sellers sell to Amazon which functions as the middleman.

VC sellers sell their products to Amazon at a lower profit margin in large volumes. Amazon then resells the product under its brand. These sellers are first-party sellers rather than third-party.

This means rather than functioning as an independent retailer, you’re now the supplier of an Amazon product.

That means, once invited to the platform you will be able to negotiate prices and terms with your Amazon buyer as you would a traditional distribution model. You will then sign a vendor agreement, receive a purchase order, and you will ship the agreed-upon product to Amazon. 

As the product sells, you will receive replenishment purchase orders.

Here’s what you need to know about Vendor Central: 

  • The platform is invitation only
  • You sell directly to Amazon 
  • Amazon controls the final retail price
  • You’re finished once you ship your product to Amazon
  • You’re responsible for advertising as you are on Seller Central
  • Amazon decides what they think will sale
  • Amazon controls the inventory management

Vendor central is naturally appealing to those who want to free themselves of small orders, dealing with fulfillment, or the associated costs. However, whichever you choose is highly dependent on your business model. 

What are the Advantages of Vendor Central?

Working through Vendor Central has some advantages over seller central that are worth mentioning. 

  • Seller Support – Vendor Central provides support from Amazon itself. This includes catalog updates and management to customer service. 

Contrast this with Seller Central which puts a lot of the burden of these tasks on sellers. This is good for sellers wishing to handle these tasks themselves, but less so for sellers looking for a more streamlined approach.

  • Marketing Support – Vendor Central sellers receive access to special marketing options such as their brand page, exclusive promotional programs, and more.

    These include early Vine Access to have products reviewed by Amazon’s select few reviewers. This gives new products a powerful boost on launch.
  • A Streamlined Business Model – First-party sellers have simplified selling experiences compared to that of third-party sellers.

    Vendors focus on filling orders directly from Amazon. Beyond that, the platform handles the rest. What’s more, vendors experience significantly less competition when selling directly to Amazon.
  • Consumer Trust – The biggest advantage to vendors is that Amazon’s credibility backs the product. Consumers trust the Amazon brand. Thus, this frees vendors from needing to further establish their reputation. 

Despite its benefits, it’s important to remember that Vendor Central is an invite-only platform. This limits the option to sellers with large inventories and supplies.

Additionally, Vendors lose a lot of the flexibility that comes with working through Seller Central, and they sell their bulk items at a significantly smaller profit margin.

Who Benefits Most From a Move to Vendor Central? 

Who benefits the most from Vendor Central can be highly dependent on ASIN.

ASINs that benefit the most from a move to Vendor are passed a successful launch and are ready to market via pay-per-click. In addition, these are ASINs already optimized and have a healthy amount of reviews. Essentially, these are products that have just reached the middle stage of their lifecycle.

In terms of sellers, Vendor Central is beneficial to those looking to move a large volume of a given product, but are struggling to do that on their own. This also includes large brands that are not interested in managing the process of selling a product. 

Therefore, Vendor Central is not for small sellers, or those looking to control their selling process.

Vendor or Seller?

There are significant advantages and disadvantages to both platforms. Deciding which one to choose can be a daunting task. This requires education and an understanding of your brand to make the right decision.

That’s not to mention that even having the opportunity to work through Vendor Central requires an invite. Which can depend on established success on the platform.

Meaning that an aspiring vendor will need to know the ins and outs of Seller Central as well as Vendor Central.

Contact us today for help managing your Amazon Marketplace and getting the edge you need to compete. We help with everything from education to the total handling of your Amazon profile. Our goal is to free you from the tedium to focus on important things.

Have you had the chance to try out Vendor Central?

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