Vendor Express: Got an invite... don't know how to react...

Hi all.

Anyone had any experience with Vendor Express (https://vendorexpress.amazon.com)? We got an invite to this... well, invitation only program... Basically Amazon sells things for you, you have no control over it and become a strictly whole-seller/distributor to Amazon... There are perks - videos, banner ads, email marketing and the backing of Amazon name (buyer confidence), but also there is a downside - it is all in their hands, can't undercut your own supplier, so bye bye buy-box for our own account etc...

Just wondering if anyone had any experience with this and has any advice.

Thanks

Constantine

Comments

  • I do not have any personal experience, but I've talked to tons of people about this.
    It seems that more or less those who are already dominating Amazon with their products (I'm assuming that is you) don't get much benefit out of it. Sellers who aren't very Amazon savvy tend to really like it though.

    I've also heard that Amazon tends to not respect the MAP pricing many times, which can cause problems all over.
  • Thanks, @Travis_Jamison
    I read all about it and the message is mixed... there are positives - bulk orders, advertising, many report sales going up 3-5x times from FBA or FBM, use of Amazon Vine (their version of AMZ Review Club) ... but many negative comments - no control over listing content, payments in 90 days, lots of paperwork with POs, shipments to 20+ locations over USA, no support, no contact with customers... Obviously no way to generate reviews with Super URL or affect ranking in any way... I am inclined to say no, at least for now - I think our strength is marketing techniques, adjustments in listing content. reviews, rankings etc... Take that away, and the product is just that - a product... It may make sense if we develop several brands where we do not rely on a single brand for all income... that way spinning one off to Amazon via wholesale would be a worthy experiment... I don't like all eggs in one basket... especially if you have one egg :)
  • @constantine did you decide to decline?

    I was talking to a very savvy seller recently (who gets Amazon SEO) who said that their sales went up by about 30% from switching. Personally I would still not do it, just curious.
  • Hey, @Travis_Jamison I decided to put this aside until late January.... Too many things going on right now... new products, shipments... managing inventory... Busy holiday season is no time to experiment...

    I would like to chat with your savvy seller friend to have a better understanding of what he means...

    The upside is clear - Amazon listings, participating in their promotions, getting a boost in sales...

    The downside is that there will be no way to do our own promotions, generate reviews, use super urls.... getting paid in 90 days... organizing shipments to dozens of warehouses... this is more similar to dealing with a department store... I do not want to lose this control... I think this is where our strength lies... If that is taken away, we are just a bunch of guys getting stuff from China and slapping a label on it...

    There needs to be more to this risk/reward analysis - e.g. if Vendor Express does promotions via their review club, if sales go up, if there is less stuff for us to do, - can a virtual assistant take care of the shipments and this business be on a complete auto-pilot? Could the total profit be higher, because there is less to spend on marketing?

    We also have 165 active products and going up to over 200 by year end... By the sound of it, Vendor Central will take over only a hand-full... and if that is the case, we would have to do FBA + Vendor Central... is that worth the hassle...

    Would love to talk to your friend... but will not make any changes until January+

    Thanks
    Constantine
  • Hi @Jeremy and thank you very, very much for letting me know your experience... Judging from your feedback, this sounds like a horrible idea to join Vendor Express program... and you touched on most of my worries - lack of control, payment delays, inability to control marketing... wow.

    Are you still on the program? Did you keep some products with FBA and switch some to VA? If I have a product doing 10k sales per month and decide to switch to VA (as per their request), sure sounds like we would take a hit in the beginning, because effectively sales would stop during the set up process and then their testing period... yadda yadda a month later sales rank and keyword ranking dips and by the time they say "Go" you are out of a few thousands dollars in profit - just to try this thing...

    Thanks for the post. Much appreciated :)

    Regards,

    Constantine
  • constantine, vendor express is not invitation only program. anyone can participate by going to https://vendorexpress.amazon.com

    they have a different program Amazon Vendor. That one is invitation and its when you get approached by Amazon's buyer but from what i understand, for that one you need to have millions of dollars in yearly sales and perfect feedback.

    I just started to deploy one of my products in that program (non-invitation version) but it is kind of pain since you have no phone support, very limited email support and they expect you to ship stock through their UPS labels from warehouse in US which is kind of defeats the purpose of having hand-off business like you do with FBA. I am not entirely sure we will be rolling out myself.
  • @velesco - We were invited and I do get phone support... but it is still a pain with no clearly measurable benefits... Starting with a product that does low volume makes no sense, while starting with a best seller is high risk, as we hear often that their order system makes mistakes and can simply under-order and make you product sold out... Basically nobody will take care of your product as well as you will...
  • @charlienyc 100% true... one thing that comes to mind though is that if you have a private label product that you have a direct and more or less equal competitor(s) with no clear way to outsell them, giving this product to Amazon may be a way to bypass competition... Never tested this yet, but sure would like to try...
  • @velesco - We were invited and I do get phone support... but it is still a pain with no clearly measurable benefits... Starting with a product that does low volume makes no sense, while starting with a best seller is high risk, as we hear often that their order system makes mistakes and can simply under-order and make you product sold out... Basically nobody will take care of your product as well as you will...

    while you are right, you will take care of your listing better then anyone given the tools you have, Amazon simply has better tools. They will add it to top of the ranking, they will enjoy totally different formula of ranking as well, product will be added to promotional emails...etc. And of cause, it will be next to impossible for fake sellers to hijack your listing and steal the buybox. And last but not least, dont need to pay for sponsored products. All in all not a bad deal. We have a peeler that sells like crap for no reason. Honestly, its a good product, a lot better then a lot of other peelers. There had been a point when we were selling it 40 a day for nearly 4 days simply because Amazon threw us a bone and put us in one of their emails. Sales went up 5 fold. Its insane how much control they have over your store.
  • @charlienyc @velesco Both of you have some really good points here. Good share
  • Hi Constantine. We got invited to this program and tried it. Unfortunately sales plummeted for the product and we lost all control of it. Fortunately, it was a newer (but growing) product, and not one of our bestsellers.

    I almost made the decision to move several big selling products over since the pitch sounded so good, but I am extremely relieved I didn't. With all of the little known information and talent obviously already in your possession, you will do a much better job promoting it yourself IMHO. I would definitely not risk a "money" product on it. But ultimately it is up to you.
  • Abe said:

    Hi Constantine. We got invited to this program and tried it. Unfortunately sales plummeted for the product and we lost all control of it. Fortunately, it was a newer (but growing) product, and not one of our bestsellers.

    I almost made the decision to move several big selling products over since the pitch sounded so good, but I am extremely relieved I didn't. With all of the little known information and talent obviously already in your possession, you will do a much better job promoting it yourself IMHO. I would definitely not risk a "money" product on it. But ultimately it is up to you.

    Nice input!
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