There are two actual ways of selling, direct or wholesale but within these two business processes there are options, these being:
1) Pure wholesale - you sell and deliver the order to the Amazon Fulfillment Centre
2) Drop Ship Vendor - you sell via the Amazon website and fulfill orders direct from your distribution centre
3) Vendor Flex - You fulfill wholesale orders from your Distribution Centre directly
4) Market place - Direct sales fulfilled by Amazon
5) Market place - Direct sales fulfilled by the merchant
Before anyone jumps up and down and states I am wrong, these were the options available when I was connecting and working with Amazon.
How do you support these options?
Amazon do provide options to obtain data to support the allotted business process that you agree to use.
There are the Amazon web portals:
1) Vendor Central for all things wholesale
2) Seller Central for all things Market Place
If you are working on the web portals are you limiting your activity to office hours?
There are better ways to support these trading models
If you are working with Amazon on a wholesale and direct basis and do not have staff that can support the connectivity and data options have you thought about using an EDI Managed Service?
Wholesale trading and selling direct are two different selling behaviours and normally involve two different sets of skills and knowledge.
Wholesaling tends to focus on Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) files and selling direct connecting via an API and using an XML or JSON file format.
My focus for this blog is for those businesses that want to trade on a wholesale basis and sell direct but do not have the knowledge and skills to support the connectivity or file formats.
Different trading models
Amazon have delivered two different connectivity and file format behaviours in respect of how you want to trade.
Wholesale uses a standard EDIFACT EDI file format. However, Drop Ship Vendor (DSV) uses an XML file format. DSV is still a wholesale transaction that you, as the seller, will fulfill from your distribution centre. At the time I delivered this functionality I was connecting via AS2 for both wholesale and DSV.
Selling and fulfilling the orders direct will mean connecting via an API. When I supported this functionality this was a SOAP API using an XML file format. This was being moved to a REST API and a JSON file format.
If you are then looking at Amazon fulfilling orders from their Fulfillment Centres (FCs) you can download files that define the orders processed and the current stock holding.
Selling direct or via wholesale has time constraints.
If you are wholesaling you have some tight timescales to work to in respect of acknowledging orders, for example.
If you are selling direct and your product is fast moving can you acknowledge the orders outside of office hours? Can you update your stock holding through the night and over a weekend period?
Automation and connectivity is key to supporting these activities but does your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) support this functionality plus the Amazon data requirements?
How will you support peak periods when you work with Amazon? There are periods in which Amazon try to generate additional sales plus Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the lead into Christmas.
Will you work on a manual basis uploading and downloading files manually? From my experience this is fraught with processing pain to the point you are receiving orders you can not fulfill which impact on your Service Level Agreement. End to end system automation is a key tool to get you through the highs and lows of trading if you have a product that sells fast.
When selling directly there are options to use apps. I am not suggesting that you ignore these apps, but what I would suggest is that you look at the costs of using the app.
What I am advocating is one way into your business and one way out using the same generic process into or out of your ERP system.
If you understand how you want to sell and how you want to connect and automate think about using an EDI Managed Service.
Make sure that when discussing the connectivity to Amazon with your EDI Managed Service Provider that it is a direct connection rather than through an app, you might end up with additional costs that you were not expecting.