Amazon is a giant in the book industry and it spreads out in both the enormity of its catalog and the scope of its programs. This post is to help you have a basic understanding of some of the selling programs, since there does not appear to be a comprehensive spot on Amazon.com to clarify each of these programs.. Check our AtlasBooks blog next week for a post about Amazon specifically geared toward our AtlasBooks distribution clients.
For the purpose of this post, I will break Amazon’s selling programs into those for vendors and those for individual sellers. The vendor programs apply to those that have distribution rights for the titles. The items sold through the vendor programs are essentially sold to Amazon who then sells to the customer. The items in individual sellers programs sell through Amazon, meaning they use the Amazon.com site to sell directly to customers and then pay Amazon a fee or percentage for allowing them to use the site as a storefront.
For vendors, Amazon has two programs: Amazon Advantage and Amazon Vendor Central. For items sold through these channels, the customer pays Amazon, Amazon ships the stock, and then Amazon pays the wholesale terms to the vendor monthly. When looking at a title’s product page, if it says, “In Stock, Ships and sold by Amazon.com,” you are getting a product from the vendor (or though Amazon’s fulfillment program, but we will touch on that later). Further, to sell in one of these programs, the vendor must have distribution rights to sell the titles.
Advantage is a self-service consignment program that enables the user to promote and sell media products directly on Amazon.com. It is specifically designed for publishers, music labels, studios, authors, and other content owners who would like to source their products to Amazon.com. It is not intended for individuals selling used copies, or resellers of books (such as booksellers). To list products, one must have valid legal title to distribute them.
Amazon Vendor Central
Vendor Central is a web interface for vendors to conduct business with Amazon.com. Registration on Vendor Central requires an invitation from Amazon. It is similar to Amazon Advantage, but items are not sold on consignment.
Next, Amazon has four levels of individual seller programs through Amazon Marketplace. Amazon Merchants and marketplace sellers are independent sellers who offer a variety of new and used merchandise. When buying from a seller, the order is fulfilled directly by the seller, who also handles all customer service. The customer pays immediately, online, using Amazon.com.
These sellers manage their inventory through Seller Central, the Web interface used to manage selling on Amazon.com. Sellers can sell items in more than 25 categories.
For individual sellers who expect to sell less than 40 items a month, users pay $0.99 per sale plus a referral fee.
Professional sellers who expect to sell more than 40 items a month fall under the category of Pro-Merchant subscribers. They can have unlimited sales for $39.99 a month plus a referral fee. Amazon provides volume listing and inventory-management tools, and waives the 99-cent per-item fee charged on sales to individual accounts.
Merchants@ Program is a higher level of Pro-Merchant status, sometimes referred to as Gold- and Platinum-level sellers. These sellers are often large-volume vendors with access to wholesale prices, and they get extra visibility on Amazon’s site.
For these programs, the seller uploads inventory to Amazon.com, a customer buys the product through Amazon, Amazon notifies seller by email when an order has been placed, the seller ships the products, then Amazon transfers payments to the seller.
And finally there is Fulfillment by Amazon. Instead of selling and shipping items to buyers directly, sellers ship their items to Amazon’s warehouse. For extra fees, Amazon stores the merchandise, handles customer service, and ships the items to the buyer.
Items sold from these individual sellers are sold through Amazon Marketplace, which is Amazon’s fixed-price online service that allows sellers to offer goods alongside Amazon’s offerings. Buyers can buy new and used items directly from a third party, similar to eBay’s Half.com. Used products are listed on the same page where Amazon sells new product. Anyone with a regular Amazon consumer account can click the “Sell Yours Here” button on the product page to offer a used, new or collectible item for sale.
That sums up the Amazon selling programs. Amazon also has numerous tools to help sellers promote their items. Here are just a few of them.
Amazon WebStore allows the user to create a website with templates and merchandising widgets. WebStore has multiple pricing and service options including setup of website only, building a website and directing to Amazon.com, and building a website and fulfilling through Amazon.com.
Amazon Author Central
Amazon Author Central is a free service provided by Amazon to allow authors to reach more readers, and promote books. Authors can share up-to-date information about himself and his work with readers. The author can view and edit a bibliography, add a photo and biography to a personal profile, upload missing book cover images, and use a blog to connect with readers. If an author’s book is listed in Amazon’s catalog, he is eligible to join Author Central. So even if the book is selling under a program that the author does not control, he can still join Author Central.
Search Inside the Book
On the surface level, Search Inside the Book allows consumers to see images of the book on a book’s product page. Usually the consumer can see the front cover, table of contents, a sample of pages, and the back cover. This information is gathered either through a physical copy sent directly to the Search Inside program at Amazon or through a digital submission.
But this program opens up so much more. When customers search by key words, search results can be matched to every word inside the book. Search Inside results are displayed interspersed with results that match the title and/or author of the book. Amazon also will display where the word or phrase is found inside the book’s text. For each match, they display the page number and an excerpt with the search term highlighted, and it will include a link to view the actual pages where the result occurs using the Amazon Online Reader.
Amazon Associates is an affiliate program in which Amazon products are advertised on the user’s webpage. Here is how it works: products are advertised on the user’s webpage, customer follow the links to Amazon, the user earns up to 15% when customer buys the product. Products can be advertised on the user’s website via link and banners, widgets, or by using aStore. aStore is a self-contained online store embedded directly on the user’s webpage.
Kindle is currently a hot news topic, but just in case someone isn’t familiar, it is Amazon’s new wireless reading device. Consumers can wirelessly download books, newspapers, magazines and blogs and read them on Kindle e-readers. E-books are bought exclusively from Amazon.
Listmania lists are an Amazon feature that lets consumers make lists of products on Amazon.
Again, there are other programs Amazon offers to bolster sales, but this is just a sampling of some of the most popular. For our AtlasBooks distribution publishing partners, please check in next week for a breakdown of how we distribute your books to Amazon and what it means for you.