How to understand your Amazon Vendor Manager
A successful collaboration with Amazon requires a good relationship with your vendor manager. It’s important to understand who this person is, what are this person’s goals and what challenges they face.
Who is the Vendor Manager?
A vendor manager is an internal employee of Amazon who acts as a substitute for Amazon. He or she is the main contact person for vendors. Vendor managers are busy people who have to cope with several tasks at the same time. A company’s area of responsibility for vendor support includes, among other things:
- Gains and losses
- Supplier negotiations
- Customer satisfaction
Vendor managers frequently have tight schedules and many times unattainable annual goals set upon them by companies. They will take care of about 50-150 vendor accounts if not more at any given moment. Their focus lies on facts and figures and the customer experience – a personal relationship with their suppliers is secondary.
Something to keep in mind: vendor management has a high fluctuation rate. Amazon follows a rotation model that allows employees to change departments on a regular basis. If you have been a vendor for some time, you will notice that your contacts change from time to time. This can make it difficult to maintain a steady relationship and provide proper support as an external company.
Goals and challenges of a Vendor Manager
In order to better understand your vendor manager, you should know what their goals are and what challenges they face. Their two main goals are:
- Achieve sales within the category.
- Increase profitability.
Each vendor manager works for a specific category on Amazon, for example, “lawn mowers”. If a vendor manager is responsible for a newly created category, then they must also promote that category’s growth. However, their goal is never to promote a specific brand or product.
Few vendor managers can cope with the high workload placed upon them. Thus, their greatest challenge lies in prioritizing their projects. Due to the increasing number of vendors, it is not possible to give the same level of attention to every manufacturer. Amazon’s internal processes rank manufacturers by relevance. Also, suppliers who do not have a decisive influence on the vendor manager’s goal achievement will increasingly no longer have a personal Amazon contact person available. In this scenario, your support will become semi or completely automated. Amazon is constantly introducing new self-services to ensure that vendors do not have to contact vendor support for every problem that arises. They want to encourage problems to be solved independently and in a more efficient manner. In the future, manufacturers will have to rely more and more on themselves and solve support tasks independently.
Since vendor managers work for Amazon and Amazon continuously automates processes, vendors are restricted in their authority to act. Vendor managers act on the behalf of external companies. The prices are set by the Amazon price-matching-system and the industry is not prepared to refinance the automated price matching of Amazon. Thus, in order to increase category profitability, the vendor manager is dependent on his or her suppliers. These could, for example, grant him or her better conditions or better purchase prices. The more you accommodate your vendor manager (who represents Amazon) by say offering better working conditions, the more likely you are to support your own company’s profitability. The vendor manager appreciates your proactive actions and you receive increased attention.
Understanding your vendor manager creates the necessary basis for a promising partnership and long-term success on Amazon. Only if you approach your contact person in a solution-oriented manner will he or she appreciate you and give your brand more attention.
The decision-making powers of vendor managers are decreasing from year to year. The more established the category, the less opportunity there is for manual influence. In many cases, it is now more effective to solve emerging problems via case management and vendor support.