Amazon Will Discontinue Its Vendor Express Platform

Communicating via an email sent directly to sellers using the platform, Amazon announced the gradual discontinuation of the Vendor Express platform between now until its permanent unavailability, effective January 1, 2019.

Background on Vendor Express

Vendor Express (VE) is a program originally offered in 2015. VE is a sort of hybrid between Vendor Central (for 1P wholesalers and manufacturers who own larger brands and sell directly to Amazon) and Seller Central (for 3P sellers who may or may not own the brands they sell on Amazon Marketplace).

I wrote at length about Vendor Express and where it fits into Amazon seller-platform pantheon in “What’s the Difference Between Amazon Vendor Central, Vendor Express, and Seller Central?” That article is still relevant (even with the impending demise of Vendor Express) for its information on Vendor Central and Seller Central (the two remaining options for Amazon sellers) and insight into many facets of the Amazon/Seller relationship and the various tiers and levels and benefits and drawbacks involved.

With regard to that hybridity that so defined Vendor Express, Forbes Contributor Kiri Masters summed up the problem of the platform, namely one of being neither fish nor fowl. Masters wrote:
Vendor Express was a selling platform on [sic] that was a blend between being a fully fledged Vendor who sells on a wholesale basis to Amazon, and the relatively open marketplace where sellers interact more directly with consumers. It was a halfway house with all the cons of both models . . . Between the third-party marketplace and the invite-only Vendor Central program, Vendor Express was stuck in the middle without a clear benefit, sellers said.
And in that, she made clear that Vendor Express was the worst of both worlds and simply didn’t cut it for the sellers it was meant to reach and for whom it was meant to provide a selling solution.

Given the constraints of the program, that seems likely. But it’s also not the whole story. I would add that Vendor Express was in all likelihood not profitable or beneficial for Amazon. We have enough history of the company to know that if one of the Amazon 3Ps (product, program, and partnership) is not making money or leading to growth for Amazon, the company does not hesitate to eliminate what it perceives to be a burdensome endeavor. In short, if Vendor Express were working for Amazon, Amazon would keep it.

. . . But it isn’t, so Amazon is instead steering Vendor Express sellers to Seller Central to become 3P Amazon Marketplace sellers. Will some merchants formerly of VE be invited by Amazon to join Vendor Central? Perhaps, but it seems that Amazon wants to direct them toward Seller Central instead.
Joe Kaziukėnas, CEO of Marketplace Pulse said, “It might be that Amazon realized that the quality of brands was not there and the return on this program was not good enough. Amazon would rather have those sellers manage their own risk and sell as third-party sellers.” Indeed.

Resources and Sources

Key Dates for the Sunsetting of Amazon Vendor Express

  • Monday, March 12, 2018: Amazon announces sunset of Vendor Express platform.
  • Monday, May 21, 2018: Amazon will stop issuing purchase orders through Vendor Express.
  • Friday, June 29, 2018: Last day to submit Vendor Express invoices to Amazon.
  • Tuesday, January 1, 2019: Vendor Express becomes permanently unavailable. Payments and invoices will no longer be viewable.

Full text of “Amazon Retires Vendor Express Platform” by Kiri Masters from the larger article “Amazon: Subscription Model Expansion, Vendor Express Retirement And Photographic Proof Of Delivery

Full CNBC article, “Amazon Is Shutting Down Vendor Express, a Shortcut for Wholesalers to Sell Inventory,” including quotes by Joe Kaziukėnas and an image of the full email sent to Vendor Express users and announcing the discontinuation of the program.

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