Amazon Red Carpet Scheme – It Does Exist, But What Is It?

This is something I have been meaning to write about for a while now, as to me it is something which totally shocked me coming from Amazon and from speaking to people in the industry in shocked them too at first.  There are probably three types of people right now reading this.  Those who have never heard of the Amazon Red Carpet Scheme (RCS), those who have and know what it is, and finally those who have heard of it but are convinced it doesnt exist and think the concept is some sort of scam.  Well for the first and last group let me tell you what the RCS is.

 What Is It?

The RCS is an invitation only scheme that it run by Amazon.  That’s right, invitation only, and as you can probably tell it isn’t very widely advertised or mentioned by Amazon, or anyone else.  As far as I can see, this is to give the scheme that prestigious feel to it, after all it wouldnt be an exclusive ‘club’ if it was easy to get into and was open to everyone.

So what’s the criteria?  Well thats a good question and i’m pretty sure only Amazon truly know the answer to this one (I know a couple of people at Amazon read the blog so if they want to add a comment with the answer, please feel free)  The obvious one is that you cannot already have an Amazon account.  My guess is that you have to be offering a product that Amazon are really keen to get advertised on their site.  I know…what don’t Amazon already sell themselves right?  Well you may be looking at specialist or Niche products to fit this bill, or you could have a certain brand that is incredibly popular etc.  You also need to be able to add a minimum number of listings to the Amazon catalog.  I imagine this varies according to which category you would be selling in, but a company I know of had to list a minimum of 400 listings (inclusive of variations) in the clothing category.

So what are the benefits of the RCS?

For this I will paste a snippet from the invitation e-mail and then we can look in more detail about what these benefits are and why every man and his dog would want to join the RCS.

“We have a ‘Red Carpet’ scheme that I wanted to speak to you about. It is a programme we only approach certain sellers about and includes much more benefits, enabling higher sales volume. These are:

Free subscription for up to a year (save >£300)

Free account management for 6 months

– Free payment transaction

– Free listing integration support

Unlimited listing

– Google Keyword

– Price comparison site listings

– Bespoke delivery rates

Eligibility for the ‘Buy Box’ (primary product page)”

 

So as you can see there are quite a few benefits to be had, now I have bolded what I believe to be the ‘big hitters’ here and will explain what these benefits mean aside from the obvious.

  1. Free subscription for a year – Now this is an obvious one there is a substantial saving to be made here, as no-one like paying fee’s, however it does say ‘up to a year’ this does imply it could be 3 month, 6 months etc and again probably depends on categories etc.
  2. Free Account Management for 6 months – Yes you read that right..Amazon has Account Managers! And from first hand experience, they are really good, and useful guys to speak to.  Now don’t get excited this is only for the ‘onboarding’ phase of the RCS and they won’t be around for ever, but what a fantastic thing to have on your side if you are new to Amazon.  *Please note however that at the Channel Advisor Catalyst 2012 Conference Chris Poad very honestly admitted that Amazon have no desire or plans to start the account management system to the level that eBay once had.  The message here, is if you get on to RCS use them whilst you can.*
  3. Eligibility for the Buy Box – This is again another valuable bonus.  For new amazon accounts usually you do not get Buy Box eligibility for 4 months in a sort of ‘probation period’ to ensure that you can meat the demands of selling on Amazon.  So with immediate buy box eligibility you have that massive barrier to sales lifted.

So there you go, the Amazon Red Carpet Scheme is real, I have worked with Amazon on it and spoken to the fabled account manager and enjoyed the speedy buy box eligibility.  So if you have seen people calling it a scam and ‘too good to be true’ on various forums or other blogs around the web feel free to point them in this direction.

Now how to get that invite?

This is the frustrating one, as it’s invitation only a lot of sellers automatically feel like if they haven’t had the invite then Amazon are not interested.  I can guarantee this isn’t the case.  There is no way Amazon could approach every e-commerce company in the UK and pick the ones they want to invite.  What I would maybe suggest doing, is that if you don’t already sell on Amazon and are seriously contemplating doing so then why not send an e-mail to Amazon implying that you are interested in selling on their marketplace and send them links to either your current website or eBay shop and see if Amazon interested.

After all, what is there to lose? Amazon is the fastest growing e-commerce marketplace in the UK and what is the worst they can do, say no?  I’d love to hear of any other sellers who have been part of the RCS and what experiences they have had.  Please feel free to comment below.

Dave

 

13 replies
  1. Joe Miotello
    Joe Miotello says:

    i am waiting for my accounts manager to send me the details of this offer,but one thing he said was ,my only charge would be 15% on sales. I have to get my products bar codes:£107 plus £117 ,so £124 plus vat for half million codes with a renewable fee once a year of £117+vat
    so i am gonna to give it ago

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hi Joe

      Yes you make a good point here, to list on Amazon you do need product barcodes or (EAN’s, UPC’s) etc. But like you said buying the barcodes is relatively cheap for the number you get and the added bonus of this is if you use them on your website and submit a feed to Google Product Search, you will also show up in one of the most widely used comparison engines.

      You seem to fall into the niche category with what you sell which again seems to fit the criteria for red carpet scheme. Do you sell on eBay at all? I really like your products, a totally unique and niche product area but the products themselves look great. Let us know how it goes.

      Thanks for the comment

      Dave

      Reply
  2. Joe Miotello
    Joe Miotello says:

    My Account manager Tim phones today,i have to up load 400 items to Amazon
    I hope he has something to help do this,as the they add the bar codes for me
    One other thing i pay 17.5% if i am not vat registered
    Also tried Groupon,got this reply

    Thank you for your enquiry to Groupon.

    Due to the larger volume of customers across our National platform, we will no longer be featuring sole trader businesses. This is to ensure customers benefit from the optimum level of after sales service, delivery and support from their experience.

    We have determined that in order for partners to receive the full benefit of a Groupon feature, as well as meeting customer satisfaction levels, businesses are required to provide a full customer service team that can meet orders and high levels of after sales care. All factors that have to be taken into account as part of our stringent pre-qualification process.
    If your are not a sole trader could you please respond to this email with your registered company name and number.

    Thank you for getting in touch.

    Will keep you inform with progress
    joe

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hi Joe

      Yes i’m pretty sure Amazon will have something in place to help you with this, perhaps in the form of a bulk update tool from a spreadhseet etc. The company I work with on this use eSellerPro as a platform for multi channel listing, so they did the upload through there. The allocating barcodes was the longest job but worth it in the end.

      As for Groupon, I have never had any experience with them myself, but yes I can imagine they have been let down a few times before so have had to bring in some measures to protect themselves in the future. Sadly this puts a blanket ban on lots of good sellers.

      The bonus is if you are happy to play by Amazon’s rules then it is a very good platform to sell on and for getting your company name out there.

      Thanks

      Dave

      Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hi CJ

      I am pretty sure the “Google Keyword” benefit means that the item information you send to Amazon can also be picked up by the Google Product search and your listings will be shown in there too (If they have the buy box). I think this is pretty standard amongst Amazon listings but it saves you having to wait that initial 4 month period for the eligibility to kick in.

      Thanks

      Dave

      Reply
  3. Catriona Harris
    Catriona Harris says:

    Having received an email about this scheme one thing I would say is that whoever makes the decisions as to who to contact and ‘invite’ into the scheme obviously doesn’t do their homework. My product range would be completely unsuitable to an Amazon selling environment (one of a kind artwork and bespoke pieces as well as sales to a very niche market).

    Which makes me wonder how they select who they are going to invite? I am presuming that it is actually a pretty random process with a computer generated email being sent to eCommerce hosted websites.

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hey Catriona

      Thanks for the comment. I would be really really surprised if Amazon picked their potential red carpet scheme customers through a computer generated random process, that just to me doesn’t seem very ‘Amazon’. But I do agree you are obviously selling a very niche product range which would never have stood out as something I would have thought Amazon would have targeted.

      My only guess is they have seen an influx of search results for your style of products, or found you selling online, maybe eBay and saw that there was a hole in their product catalogue and by offering you RCS you had a better chance of joining Amazon.

      Thanks for sharing

      Dave

      Reply
  4. Claire
    Claire says:

    Hello,
    I have been invited to this scheme and thought it was a scam, I have expressed some interest and am slightly confused about the process and workings of Amazon as I am an eBay seller. How do you upload products to Amazon and also how does it work!?
    I am very unsure about going for it as I am flat out with orders on eBay and unsure if I have time to start Amazon..? I have heard Amazon is not easy for uploading items for sale!
    Thanks

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hi Claire

      Thanks for the comment. I can confirm it is definitely not a scam, Amazon just want you on their marketplace.

      I agree with you, moving into ‘Multi-channel’ can be a bit daunting to begin with especially when you have multiple ways to learn how to do things. Most people at this stage would look into using software to help automate and simplify some of these processes. Unfortunately software is usually expensive. I am currently working on a project called UndersandingE, you can find out more here: http://www.understandinge.com/now where we will show you how to set up multi channel software using free software in order to manage your multiple channels.

      This could be really useful for business owners in your position. We have a forum set up which is open now. The main content of the site goes Live in January. But it might be useful for you to be able to ask questions etc from people who have been there and done it regarding Amazon.

      Hope this helps

      Dave

      Reply
  5. Bryony
    Bryony says:

    Hi Dave,

    As with Claire, I received a call last week from an Amazon Representive inviting me for consideration onto the RCS, I’d never heard of it before. The only thing I do know is that I created an Amazon account last year, did nothing with it as the whole process looked incredibly complicated compared to ebay, so I promptly cancelled my subscription and forgot about it!

    One of the other reasons I did nothing with is was a slight warning from others that I would never be able to sell efficiently on amazon due to their methods of selling their own products as well as third party merchants. The hint I was getting was that I’d be painted as more expensive compared to amazons deals on the same product. Thistle said, this was last year – before I obtained an extremely popular brand which has been flying out on ebay since we began marketing it 5 months ago, so I am wondering if this is what’s changed and created the sudden interest in my products?

    I briefly looked into an inventory management software last year, but decided against as it seemed very expensive for something that I was managing quite efficiently manually, however if amazon was on the horizon, presumably a software package would be necessary in order to manage multi channel sales and inventories?

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hi Bryony

      Massive apologies for the delay in getting back to you. It has been a hectic few months here.

      As for the RCS and Amazon as a whole, there are a few horror stories going round of Amazon aggressively competing with the third party sellers. But on the same hand around 39% of all orders on Amazon are fulfilled by third parties so there is still a massive audience for your products.

      Chances are yes, Amazon have noticed your a product range they don’t have themselves selling well for you on eBay, and want to try and get you selling it on their marketplace.

      For going multi-channel in terms of selling online then yes a piece of software would be advisable to help automate a lot of processes but largely stock and order management. You are right traditionally software has been quite expensive however what I have been working on for the past few months, is the ‘third generation’ of multi channel software where we will show you how to create your own multi channel software from as little as £16 a month. This might be a fantastic way for you to get started in multi-channel. The guides launch properly on the 1st Jan 2014 but you can find out more here at: http://www.understandinge.com and if you have any questions we have a forum or you can contact me directly.

      Hope to hear from you

      Dave

      Reply

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