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.
- 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.
- 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.*
- 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.