The services offered by Amazon differ from one client to another. Depending on the amount of money that you are investing and on the number of products that you are selling on their platform, you may be catalogued as either a vendor or as a seller (commonly known as “the marketplace” as well).
If you are unsure of your status, you can ask your contact at Amazon – usually, if you have a contact (Account manager and an SVS) dedicated for your brand, then it means that you are catalogued as a vendor. If you don’t know who these contacts are, you are most probably a seller. The interface that you are using to manage your Amazon account might also tell you which of the two you are: Vendor Central or Seller central.
Keep in mind that you may also be catalogued as a vendor in a specific country and as a seller in a different one – this depends on the size of the market in those specific countries.
Some sellers might also be asked by Amazon if they wish to become vendors. You would need to sign a new contract with them, but there are some advantages that you can get if you decide to go for it and become a vendor.
If your company does not have a Vendor Central account yet, you can request your Amazon buyer to send you an invitation. Registration on Vendor Central requires an invitation from Amazon.
The marketing services that Amazon offers are all based on your status. Be it that you want to use the Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), or the Amazon Marketing Group (AMG), or the retail marketing (known also as Co-op placements), your status will influence the availability of these platforms. P.S. If you wish to learn more about the differences between these 3 marketing platforms, I recommend reading The marketing platforms and placements that Amazon offers.
Vendors vs sellers – level of service
If I was to summarise the difference between vendors and sellers in a single sentence, I would do it by saying that “Vendors get much more than sellers do”. I will focus next on a couple of the services that you can get on AMS and on AMG as a vendor vs as a seller.
The Amazon Marketing Group is not available usually for sellers, but you may contact Amazon and ask them about it. They may have something for you. For example, they might be introducing AMG to sellers, and run a beta test for them.
The Amazon Marketing Services are different. This self-service online advertising platform, similar to Google AdWords, is available to both vendors and sellers, but the types of placements that you can use differ between the two roles.
As a seller, you only get access to Sponsored Product Ads – a type of ad that allows you to promote your products on search results pages. This type of placements look extremely similar to the products from organic searches. This placement works best for sales, but it is not so appropriate if your objective is brand awareness.
As a vendor, you get access to all 3 types of placements on AMS: Headline Search Ads, Sponsored Product ads, and Product display ads. This is an amazing advantage, as it allows you to advertise your products in different ways, make your products more visible on search pages and product pages, and go against your competitors directly (by bidding on their brand keywords, or by targeting their products directly via Product Display Ads). More details about each one of these 3 placements in the other articles on the website.
After 60 days of activity on AMS, vendors also get support from a newly created Amazon Engagement team. During the first 60 days, you should still have an AMS and AMG contact. The new Engagement team was created in 2017 and can offer you a better support with your activities.
The Amazon Engagement team should support you both with your AMS and with your AMG activity and they are fully dedicated to help vendors with their campaigns. On the AMS side, the following are a couple of items that they can help with:
- Keyword suggestions.
- Bid optimisations.
- Helping to create A/B tests: landing pages, creatives (images and titles).
- Budget forecasts – this is based on past keyword lists (on the number of impressions that the keywords got, clicks, ACPC, etc.)
- Evaluation of competition.
Are there different levels for vendors?
All vendors get access to all 3 types of AMS ads (or, they should – if you are a vendor and you didn’t get access to AMS yet, ask you Amazon contact about it; it might even be that AMS hasn’t yet launched in your country), but depending on the amount of money that you are planning on investing in AMS/AMG per financial quarter, you may be classified as a Silver, Gold, or Platinum Vendor (these 3 are in ascending order, each one having more and more advantages than the previous).
If as a seller you might be asked by Amazon if you wish to change to a vendor account, as a vendor you don’t have this luxury and your level depends on your profitability and on the amount of money that you are promising to invest in Amazon’s marketing activities. You may be asked by Amazon if you wish to invest more, and this will get you to a higher vendor level – I recommend that you weigh first the advantages and disadvantages of doing it. Also, it is important to know that there can be differences in the level of investment needed depending on the country. For example, you may be a Platinum vendor in France, but you are a Silver vendor in Germany even if the level of investment from your side is the same – this happens because Amazon’s market size differs in each one of these countries (Amazon in Germany is twice the size in France).
Depending on your level as a vendor, you may also get access to the following:
- Beta products (continually ask your AMS/AMG contacts about any available; your relationship with them sometimes matters even more than your vendor level);
- More support;
- More reporting;
- You’ll most probably get access to any other placements/types of ads that Amazon will develop in the future.
So, be it that you are a vendor, a seller, or an agency or an individual working for one of the two, I encourage you to read the articles from this site closely as I will be revealing different best practice guidelines about Amazon’s Pay-Per-Click marketing services.