Amazon Marketplace Seller Processes

A vendor wishing to sell products on Amazon needs to successfully execute a number of processes in a consistent manner. Earlier posts provided a high level overview of the generic sales transaction steps from both the buyer and the sellers perspective. We now want to provide a more in-depth look at the routine seller processes.

Listing

The first and most important process is listing a product for sale. As hinted previously, Amazon provides very structured content. In order to list a product you need to determine the ASIN. Every product listed must include an ASIN: Amazon Standard Identification Number . Makes sense, seems easy. An ASIN uniquely identifies a product. All listings for the same product "should" use the same ASIN. This scheme provides a consistent title and description for a product and allows a buyer to more easily identify a product by eliminating the eBay like clutter caused by each seller creating a unique title and description for the exact same product.

The reality is that some vendors ignore this and create duplicate ASINs for the same product. An example can be found by searching for Scubapro Black Mantis Dive Computer. At the time of writing there were at least 3 different ASINs for the exact same product.

So listing a product either requires that you create a new product and ASIN (not very common) or that you find the existing ASIN for your product. This discussion will limit itself to the second case. All we need to do is search (one or more) Amazon marketplaces, locate the existing product identical to what we have to sell and then indicate that we have inventory of the existing ASIN. We do not need to provide a product title, product description or any supporting meta data such as images. Amazon already provides that for us. All we will need to provide is our selling price and inventory level.

Pricing Adjustment

One of the hidden Amazon processes is price setting and adjustment. All vendors of the same product are grouped together since they all used the same ASIN. So how do I compete with other vendors? By price. Mostly by being lowest or closest to lowest. This means I need to be continually reevaluating the prices on all of my inventory on a regular basis. If I am the highest price then I am not likely to make any sales. I need to make sure my prices are attractive to potential buyers.

Order Capture

Sales is what it is all about. I need to react to a sale and fulfil the order. Detecting and acting upon a sale is very important. Depending upon my sales model and products, my order pattern may be a dependable daily trickle (think shoe laces) or a sporadic flood (think all-star game sports memorabilia).

Multi-channel Inventory Adjustment

Amazon is not a warehousing system. It is a sales system. It does track inventory sold on Amazon and maintains inventory levels as product is sold. Since it is a marketplace, it is common that Amazon is one part of a multi-channel sales strategy. If you are fulfilling multiple sales channels from a single inventory, then you need to keep Amazon updated as to your current inventory levels as they are affected by your other sales channels.

 

All of the above can be manually accomplished via Seller Central. It does not take much thought to decide that automated processes will be the best solution. Automation requires APIs. The next post will delve into Amazon's Marketplace APIs.