Amazon North America: marketplace guide
About this guide
This is a ChannelEngine guide on the Seattle-based marketplace Amazon, focused on North America. Here you can find information on how to request an Amazon account, how to configure this channel on ChannelEngine, what the specific requirements are, and more.
Table of contents
|Headquarters||Seattle, United States|
|Area served (orders)||Canada, Mexico and the United States|
|Revenue||USD 236 billion (2020)|
|Number of monthly visits||circa 206 million|
|Commission||% depending on category|
|Other costs||USD 39.99|
|Payment||professional merchants: immediately after shipment confirmation (biweekly)|
|Product categories||pretty much anything|
|Input language||depends on the country|
|Input currency||CAD in Canada, MXN in Mexico, USD in the United States|
|Profile on ChannelEngine||Amazon.com|
Selling on Amazon is an easy and effective way to reach millions of potential buyers. Amazon provides you with the required tools and experience to sell online successfully. For details on the features and benefits of Amazon's ecommerce platform, check out How to start selling on Amazon.
To sell your products on Amazon's marketplace you need a professional seller account. You can request one on their Let's talk numbers page.
During the account creation process you can set up your store on Amazon, with your own company logo. To do so, do the following on Amazon's Seller Central:
- Go to Settings, Your Info & Policies.
- Under Your Information & Policies, select Profile.
- Under the Seller Logo section, select the upload button. For a logo to be displayed, the image size must be exactly 120x30 px, and the file size must be no larger than 2 MB.
If you have trouble logging into Amazon's Seller Central, contact their support team directly.
Amazon's professional account costs USD 39.99/month. Amazon also charges a commission on products sold, called referral fees. This commission depends on the type of product, but its minimum is USD 0.30 per item. For more information on the commission per product category, check out Selling on Amazon Fee Schedule.
|Product offers (ISBN, UPC, EAN, and ASIN matching)||Advanced Amazon features, such as Amazon billing|
|Product content||Returns (channel)|
|Shipments (including carrier mapping)|
|Product variations (sizes/colors)|
* ChannelEngine does import returns that have been fully handled on Amazon's Seller Central, but it does not import returns that have yet to be handled. Channel returns are only imported for reporting purposes.
Setting up each channel on ChannelEngine follows the same flow, once you add the channel:
- Go through the Setup
- Create a Product selection
- Complete the Categorization
- Set up the Mappings: content, offers, and carriers
- Configure the Pricing: rules and currency conversion
- Finish the Activation
- Check the Listed products overview
The setup process varies according to the version of the Amazon channel you are using. This guide covers both processes.
- On Seller Central, go to Settings, User permissions.
- Select Visit manage your apps.
- Select Authorize new developer at the top of the page.
- Fill in the developer's name (ChannelEngine) and ID (6395-8456-3595).
- To accept the terms and conditions, check both boxes, and click Next.
- Write down the account identifiers. I.e.: the Seller ID, Marketplace IDs, and Marketplace web service (MWS) authorization token.
- Go to the Setup section on the Amazon channel on ChannelEngine.
- Enter your Seller ID and MWS authorization token.
- On Seller Central, go to Settings, Account info.
- Click Merchant token, under the Business information section.
- Copy your Merchant token.
- Open an incognito window in your browser.
- Go to the Setup section on the Amazon channel on ChannelEngine.
- Enter your Merchant token in the Seller ID field.
- Click Authorize. A popup opens.
- Log into your Amazon account and follow the instructions within.
Make sure that you know the impact of the settings listed below before changing them.
- Use fulfillment service - if you want to import fulfillment stock directly from the channel, enable this option.
- Disable price updates - only enable this option if you do not want ChannelEngine to manage your pricing on Amazon.
- Disable VAT calculation - only enable this option if you use Amazon's VAT calculation service (VCS), and do not want ChannelEngine to calculate VAT.
- Enable new content export - if you want this feature enabled, please contact your Customer Success Manager. To create content successfully, your categorization and mappings must be set up perfectly. Even one incorrect mapping can result in errors.
- Use grandparent products - only enable this option if you have grandparent products that differ on color, and want to use them as the group parent for your product variations. On Amazon, the grandparent is the 'parent' of the child products. Values under the regular parent products are ignored. If you currently have products on the channel, they will be deleted and new products will be created following the new hierarchy.
Recommended additional steps
The following steps are optional, but highly recommended. It allows ChannelEngine to better assist you if you have problems with your Amazon account:
1. Go to Settings > User permissions on Amazon's Seller Central.
2. Invite ChannelEngine as a user. Please make sure to use email@example.com for the invitation, as this is the email address of ChannelEngine's Amazon account.
3. By default, this access is limited to the Advertising and Performance sections, without the option to view the current inventory.
4. Go back to Settings > User permissions and select Manage permissions on the right-hand side.
5. Make sure that ChannelEngine has view-and-edit access to Inventory, and view-access to Orders. Access to additional sections, such as Reports, may be required too – depending on the problem you are trying to solve.
Categorization is only needed on Amazon if you want to create new products or update existing product information. This includes advanced offer attributes, such as bullet points, search terms, and sale prices. The categorization is straightforward, and both categorization and mappings use attribute names in English. Before setting the specific product category/browse node, you need to set the product type – which is done under Categorization.
E.g.: a backpack is first categorized as luggage > luggage. Under the content mapping, you can select the actual recommended browse node and other relevant attributes, specifying that the product is a casual backpack.
In comparison with other marketplaces, Amazon has no real content API. The inventory loader templates are the only option available. You can download from Amazon's back-end and submit them through an API. Because of the limitations of these templates, the content mapping is not as dynamic and in some scenarios attributes are marked as optional – even though they are mandatory. E.g.: product variations/sizes/colors.
- Applicable dangerous goods regulation 1 - specifies if a product is regulated as a dangerous good or if it contains hazardous material. E.g.: aerosol containers, cleaning products, etc.
- Brand name - the brand of the product.
- Is this product a battery or does it utilize batteries? - if the product contains or is a battery, set this to True.
- Main image URL - the main picture of the product. Images must have a minimum of 500 px in length, the preferred format is JPEG,
- Manufacturer -
- Item type - select the correct item type for the product. These can be found on Amazon's browse tree guides (BTGs).
- Product description - the main product description.
- Product name - the name of the product.
There are several optional attributes on Amazon, from dimensions and gift wrapping to specific legislation in California. Below you can find the most common ones:
- Update type - changes the kind of update applied. The default value is Update. If you are not familiar with the impact of the Clear and overwrite type, do not change this attribute or content updates will delete your existing content.
- Applicable dangerous goods regulations 2-5 - specifies if a product is regulated as a dangerous good or if it contains hazardous material. E.g.: aerosol containers, cleaning products, etc.
- Batteries are included - select true or false, based on the kind of product.
- Battery weight (grams) - insert a value of up to ten digits, and two decimals.
- battery_weight_unit_of_measure - define the unit of measurement used to describe the weight of the battery.
- Key product features 2-5 - the highlights of the product, displayed on the product page as bullet points. Note that the bullet point itself is not required, just the text – up to 500 characters per attribute. Special characters, such as ®, ™, and © are not supported.
- Adult flag - specifies if the product is only suited for adults. E.g.: erotic products.
- Color map - your color attribute, mapped to the colors available on Amazon. E.g.: crimson -> red.
- Color name - the color of the product.
- Item condition - specifies the condition of the product. Its values vary per product type. E.g.: a TV can be refurbished, but a backpack cannot.
- Department - defines the target audience. E.g.: women, boys, babies.
- Material composition - the generic material composition of the product. E.g.: 20% polyester, 80% cotton.
- Outer material type - the material of the outer clothing or accessory. E.g.: cotton.
- Recommended browse nodes - sets the specific category, which is what Amazon bases its search on. E.g.: backpacks > casual daypacks.
- Size map - your size attribute, mapped to the sizes available on Amazon. E.g.: XXL -> XX-large. If your item has no variant sizes, use One size.
- Size name - the size of the product. E.g.: XXL.
If you want to set variants, i.e.: different sizes/colors of a product, the Relationship type and Variation theme must also be set. For more information on this, check out Amazon: creating variant products.
When mapping additional fields such as height or width, it is mandatory to also map the unit of measurement used. E.g.: centimeters, millimeters, inches, etc.
There are only a few required offer attributes on Amazon, and they are mainly used to create offers with your price and stock on existing products on Amazon – even the ones you created.
- Business price - the price that B2B customers on Amazon Business pay for your product. Price rules are currently not applied to business prices. If you do not select Amazon Business (B2B) or both under List product on, this price field is not exported. As there is no option to make attributes required based on other options, the Business price is mandatory.
- Fulfillment override - specifies the type of fulfillment you want to use. If all of your products are fulfilled by Amazon (FBA), select either this option or Automatic. As long as there is FBA stock for a product, the offer is set to FBA; once this stock is depleted, the system switches to merchant fulfilment. More information on this can be found on External fulfillment: FBA, LVB, and FBC.
- List product on - specifies if your products are listed on the B2C Amazon marketplace, on Amazon Business (B2B), or both.
- Price before (re)price rules - the default price to which price rules are applied.
- Standard price - the standard price field for Amazon pricing.
Product ID type and Product ID value (or Externally assigned product ID type and Externally assigned product ID value, if you are using the v3 channel) are required if you want to use an identifier other than European article number (EAN).
- Product ID type - specifies the type of identifier for your products. This is used for the offer export and for the content export to Amazon. If you do not map any type, it defaults to the EAN.
Other than the EAN, Amazon makes the following identifiers available to merchants:
- Amazon standard identification number (ASIN) - Amazon's unique identifier.
- Global catalogue identifier (GCID) - relevant if you use brand registry.
- Global trade item number (GTIN) - similar to the EAN.
- International standard book number (ISBN) - only relevant for books.
- Pharmazentralnummer (PZN) - only relevant for pharmaceutical products.
- Universal product code (UPC) - similar to the EAN.
- Product ID value - contains the correct value for the set Product ID type. Amazon validates these values, so if you, for example, map the type ASIN but fail to map a 10-character uppercase alphanumeric value and the Product ID value, Amazon rejects your offer.
- Condition note - describes the condition of the item. Only needed when selling refurbished or used items. Specific examples and additional information on this can be found on Amazon's Condition guidelines.
- Condition type - specifies the general condition of your item, if you are not using Amazon's content export but want to set it on the offer. This field can contain any text, but in order for it to work the condition has to match the name of the allowed condition value exactly. Because the allowed conditions are different for each product type, it is not possible to provide a global option list under the Offer mappings. For further details on this, check out Amazon's Adding your products.
- Fulfillment latency - the number of days it generally takes to process an order. Make sure to enter a value between 1 and 10. Zero is not allowed. If you do not want to set fulfillment latency (e.g.: if it only takes you one hour to process orders and start shipping them), leave this attribute unmapped.
- Shipping group - specifies shipping groups for your products. This is only needed if you do not use Amazon's default template exclusively, and have multiple shipping templates. E.g.: you have small items that can be sent by regular carrier in a small box for a fixed price, but also very large items that need to be transported by a specific carrier – which also costs more and takes longer.
To set up shipping groups on Amazon, go to the Seller Central and select Settings, Shipping settings, Create new shipping template. In these templates, you can set the countries/regions you want to ship to, the average transit time, and the shipping price. More information can be found on Amazon: how to set up shipping time and costs.
While Amazon allows unregistered carriers, it is advised to map to one of their registered carriers and include track-and-trace information. This has an influence on your delivery performance, specifically the valid tracking rate. If you use a known carrier with valid track-and-trace information, Amazon can confirm deliveries by directly requesting updates from your carrier. If your carrier is not listed (e.g.: bpost), you can use Other instead.
As well as carrier codes, Amazon also lists carriers as carrier names. Some newer carriers are only available by their carrier name, which can vary per Amazon country. The exact name can differ as well. Amazon does not share this list, neither of the available carriers not their exact notation. Therefore, ChannelEngine cannot offer these options under the Carrier mapping as it does with the carrier codes.
If you know the exact value of a carrier name, there are two options:
- Do not set up any carrier mapping, and directly add that as a carrier method on your shipments – so your original shipment already has the correct carrier method. In this case, ChannelEngine automatically exports it as a carrier name to Amazon.
- Select Other as a carrier method in the dropdown (1, in the image below). Once selected, an additional field appears below it and you can fill in the desired carrier name (2, in the image below).
There are three aspects that require special attention when using Amazon:
- If your default currency is USD, a currency conversion is needed for Amazon Mexico as it expects all prices in MXN. The same goes for Amazon Canada. This is only needed for the offers, orders are automatically converted to the account's default currency.
- Amazon supports automatic repricing. Make sure to read all documentation on repricing before activating it. Repricing is one of the most powerful and complex parts of ChannelEngine, and a solid understanding of it is required to prevent issues.
- As both the offer and content exports use the same type of template, prices mapped under the Content mappings are exported as the prices for your products. Make sure that you do not have any price mappings or incorrect price mappings set up in the Content mappings.
If you have problems with products not appearing on Amazon (especially if you are trying to create products that do not exist yet), check the Listed products section for more information.
You can either filter on Channel status (Invalid for all products that ChannelEngine has not exported, such as products with an empty EAN or products marked as Not published because Amazon refused them) or use the Validation and feedback tab to see all known validation/feedback errors for specific products. Amazon has a long list of different possible errors, and not every error is clear and logical.
Where can I set my shipping time?
The shipping time on Amazon is set in the shipping template in Amazon's back-end. On ChannelEngine you can set the Fulfillment latency (i.e.: the number of days it takes to process orders), and the shipping group (i.e.: the name of the shipping template you want to use on Amazon). However, the countries you wish to ship to, the shipping time, and the shipping costs are all set in Amazon's back-end. Go to Settings > Shipping settings > Edit existing template/Create a new template.
Can an order be canceled once placed?
Yes, but only during Amazon's order processing period – circa 30 minutes. Once an order is available to retrieve through the Amazon API (i.e.: ready for dispatch), it can no longer be canceled. Therefore, an Amazon order marked as New on ChannelEngine does not automatically have its status changed to Canceled or receive a Cancelation requested warning, as is the case for marketplaces such as Bol.com. Note that this refers to cancelations coming directly from Amazon, not manually requested by the buyer or returns.
Why does it take around 30 minutes from placing an order at Amazon until it is visible on ChannelEngine?
This is because Amazon holds the order for this period of time before it is made available to retrieve through their API. During these 30 minutes, buyers can still cancel the order. You might receive an email stating there is a new order before these 30 minutes have passed, but ChannelEngine has no influence on this period.
Does ChannelEngine support advanced Amazon features, such as financial reports or recommendations?
Currently ChannelEngine only supports default Amazon marketplace features, such as product uploads and importing orders. Advanced features from Amazon's Finance or Recommendations API are not supported.
Can I sell 'certified refurbished' products through ChannelEngine?
Yes. However, to use this specific condition you need to be enrolled in Amazon's Renewed program. 'Certified refurbished' products usually have their own unique ASINs, to differentiate them from the regular new or used products.
What makes a product/offer unique on Amazon: the SKU, the EAN/GTIN, or the ASIN?
The one truly unique attribute for a product on Amazon is the ASIN. While in theory an EAN/GTIN should be unique (each product should only have one unique identifier), multiple products on Amazon have the same EAN – or the EAN is used for the wrong product. As a workaround, the ASIN can be used to identify the correct product. If you open a product on Amazon using a browser, you can see its ASIN in the address bar.
What clothing sizes should I use on Amazon North America?
In 2020, Amazon started a process to standardize clothing sizes, with the goal to improve its customers' experience. To find out what sizes can be used, and how, check out the Clothing size standards article on Amazon's Seller Central.
How can I work with channel returns on Amazon?
To handle a return initiated by the customer directly on Amazon, go to Orders > Manage returns on Amazon's Seller Central.
Why does Amazon ask me to renew the ChannelEngine app?
That involves the authorization for a new Amazon API connection that is not available yet. If your Full MWS Access app is set to active, your connection is working as it should – as this is the app ChannelEngine currently works with.
How are cancelation reasons exported from ChannelEngine to Amazon?
You can use ChannelEngine to handle canceled orders. Once you fill out the fields in the Create cancelation window and click Add, ChannelEngine exports the cancelation information to Amazon.
Cancelation reasons are exported to Amazon as follows:
- Out of stock, Damaged, and Incomplete result in the No inventory status.
- Canceled after consultation with customer support results in the Buyer canceled status.
- Invalid address has the No inventory status.