In 2018, the Amazon rumor mill was abuzz with talk about a new system that was going to consolidate Vendor Central and Seller Central into a single platform.
Talk about this potential power move could be found everywhere, from news outlets to reddit, but Amazon always vehemently denied the existence of such a program. Sellers and smaller vendors feared the implications of a consolidated platform, prompting more than a few eCommerce companies to publish blog posts like, "Amazon One Vendor: What to Expect, and How to Prepare," or “Amazon One Vendor: Everything Brands and Resellers Need to Know.”
Over a year later, that buzz has fizzled out and nothing new about the rumored program has surfaced in quite some time. Pattern’s Amazon experts took a step back to analyze how this all started, key moments in the One Vendor rumor development, where it's at now, and what’s likely to happen in the future.
October 1, 2018 – Amazon changes SFBSitAS Policy
Garret Bluhm, Pattern’s Former VP of eCommerce, pointed out some key changes that occurred in Amazon's Standards for Brands Selling in the Amazon Store or (SFBSitAS Policy). These may have been the starting point for concerns about a consolidated selling platform on Amazon.
Bluhm singled out some key phrases in the policy and noted what they mean for brands:
“We may choose to source products from some Brands for sale by Amazon only.”
Amazon is going to select certain brands to be 1P only.
“Other Brands can operate as sellers in the Amazon store if they can consistently maintain our standards for customer experience.”
Amazon is going to select certain brands to be 3P only.
Nov 29, 2018 – Recode article about Popsockets mentions amazon One Vendor
Recode brought more credence to the rumor with their exposé on Popsockets' breakup with Amazon. Popsockets were the victims of Amazon applying an existing policy that, according to the article, had previously not been consistently enforced.
“For years, Amazon has had a policy that says if a brand sells its goods to retailers outside of Amazon and wants to also sell on Amazon, the company ‘expects’ the brand ‘to give Amazon Retail the option to source those products at competitive terms for sale as Retail items only,’” the article read in part.
Rather than allow Popsockets to choose how they sell, Amazon's policy would force them into a 1P relationship—one Popsockets did not want due to their poor experiences with price erosion on the platform. Popsockets was not the only brand to experience this, and Edgewater Research's Eamon Kelly was quoted as saying, “I don’t think Amazon understands how close they are to blowing themselves up.”
Digiday's article specifically revolved around the One Vendor program's timeline and its impending changes.
“It’s set to roll out in the next six months, according to sources who work with brand clients selling on Amazon,” the article stated.
A former third-party seller on Amazon echoed the concerns of many other brands with the One Vendor program.
“It feels like Amazon is bullying its brands by saying, ‘The only way is our way, and we get to choose what’s better for us, regardless of how you want to run your business.’ If we were to be forced into a [wholesale] relationship, that would lead to price slashing, and that’s not something we’re comfortable with as a brand,” the seller said in the article.
In early March, a number of vendors were informed they would not be receiving additional purchase orders for their products.
"Please be informed that at this time, we are not placing any purchase orders on your products. To preserve the customer experience, the featured offer will be disabled when the product is out of stock. We will notify you if we choose to place any purchase orders," the Amazon message read.
Kiri Masters of Bobsled Marketing suggested this was another move toward the One Vendor program and Amazon exerting greater control over who can sell on which platform.
Dec 2019 - Amazon One Vendor unlikely
We recently reached out to Eamon Kelly of Edgewater Research who was quoted on the original Recode article for his opinion on what’s currently going on with the One Vendor program.
He felt that, while One Vendor hasn't actually come out at this point, Amazon accomplished much of what they wanted to accomplish with the simple rumor of the program. Namely, pushing brands into compliance with policy and cutting less profitable 1P brands from the marketplace.
Despite the One Vendor rumors, Kelly said it doesn’t look like Amazon will actually implement One Vendor.
“Amazon's recent actions show that they're moving away from the One Vendor program. Top line revenue slowed as a result of their actions in the last year, so they're starting to un-CRaP a lot of items. It looks like they've backed off for now,” Kelly said.
It seems that for now, Seller and Vendor central will remain separate, and Amazon's One Vendor program will remain a rumor. Contact Pattern below to stay up to date on One Vendor and other Amazon news and analysis.