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Is Amazon AVS (Amazon Vendor Services) Worth It?

April 24, 2024

As a Vendor on Amazon, you are always looking for ways to optimise your business, gain an edge over the competition, and accelerate your account to the next level.

Amazon Vendor Services (AVS) claims to be a resource for brands on Amazon Vendor Central to do just that. But what does the “premium service” AVS promises actually get you? And is AVS worth it?

This article will explore what AVS can and cannot do for Vendors.

We’ll also dive into the pros and cons of AVS to help you decide if the investment will be helpful for your particular business.

Lastly, we’ll discuss how AVS compares to bringing on an outside agency to give a complete picture of available options for Amazon Vendors in 2024 and beyond.


What is Amazon Vendor Services (AVS)?

AVS is a paid service Amazon provides to support existing Vendors and develop a more strategic long-term relationship with Amazon. AVS is designed to offer a more guided and supportive approach to navigating the Vendor Central ecosystem, which is notoriously more complex than Seller Central. AVS focuses on leveraging Amazon's existing resources, internal expertise, and analytics to boost vendor performance.


Main features of AVS

If a paid programme supporting vendors sounds familiar, that is because AVS used to be called Amazon Strategic Vendor Services (SVS). AVS is the evolution of the pay-to-play option that Amazon formerly offered only to top-tier vendors. So, what does AVS get you today?

Dedicated support via a Brand Specialist

Amazon assigns each vendor enrolled in AVS a Brand Specialist as your point of contact. This Amazon employee is there to collaborate and further high-value activities. This direct line of support for operational requests and help with custom questions and business reports is certainly the main benefit of the programme.

Operational guidance

Vendors paying for AVS can receive operational support aimed at troubleshooting defects and assisting with long-term growth. This includes direct contact with operational teams through Vendor Live Chat and Amazon Vendor Consultant support for proactive assistance with things like overstock management and confirmation rates.

Strategic expansion

AVS can support Vendors in expanding their reach within the EU. This may include assisting with supply chain programs such as PICS / SuperPICS, Pan-EU account activation and translation services. Amazon claims to provide additional support for entries into new markets.

Data-driven insights

AVS offers access to data and tools for setting and tracking performance metrics. They can also suggest improvements to detail pages or other marketing options. This may aid in strategic decision-making and long-term planning for accounts that are already optimised to an above-average extent.

Amazon shares the range of potential benefits of AVS on the programme’s onboarding page.


The downsides of AVS

While the benefits of AVS may sound appealing (especially to a new Vendor, flailing Vendor, or Vendor with urgent issues), there are downsides to consider with AVS.


AVS costs for vendors

Amazon has opened AVS to virtually all Vendors. While a dedicated Brand Specialist may sound enticing, it comes at a cost. Vendors can negotiate AVS into their terms, but should expect to pay 3 to 7% in ContraCOGS. For an exact cost and assessment of your account needs, you will need to contact Amazon to explore your options.

Depending on the size of your account and the scale of your operations, the services you require may or may not justify the cost. For example, if an account is doing $5 million a year, the cost may start at $150,000 per year. With Amazon pushing tighter and tighter margins, mid-size or smaller Vendors may find this too much in combination with other investments, such as Amazon Ads.

Once signed on to AVS, it can also be hard to leave. AVS contracts are a minimum of 12 months and there is no trial period. Amazon states that 99% of vendors on AVS renew their contract, but this may be a result of contract concessions and negotiations rather than actual need.


Strategic limitations

Amazon sells AVS to Vendors by talking up a range of services and benefits. For vendors that have a hard time navigating Vendor Central or for those with a specific problem that needs to be addressed, this could be tempting. But vendors should remember that what AVS can actually accomplish for them will be limited by the experience of their particular Brand Specialist and what they allow access to.

Vendors may sign up for a year of AVS only to find that the services are actually too standardised for their business. Just because a Brand Specialist “may” be able to escalate an issue, it doesn’t mean they will or that the issue will actually be resolved any faster.

Vendors should also note that there is no special treatment or getting around Amazon’s prescribed policies. Brand Specialists may also choose to focus on issues that are actually less critical for the vendor, as they may be inexperienced, outsourced, or spread thin over many Vendor accounts.


Operational complexity

While Vendor Central can be overwhelming, it’s imperative that Vendors know AVS is not an account management service. And it’s definitely not full-service.

For example, a Brand Specialist may recommend Vendors update to A+ Premium detail pages. But AVS will not implement this for the Vendor, and A+ requires a range of resources, from graphic design to Amazon-specific SEO copy.

Knowing what improvements to make is useful only if you can truly implement the suggested strategies effectively. Additionally, as Vendors pay a monthly fee, this may be eaten up by Brand Specialists’ time constraints, initial setup time, useless suggestions, and learning curves for tools and implementation.

Additionally, Amazon will absolutely prioritise accounts that are strategic to Amazon. If you are a smaller account, this level of service may be a mismatch. Your resources may be better spent on external account support and growth strategies.

Data privacy

Vendors operating on multiple channels should be cognisant that AVS opens up even more data and operational information to Amazon. What Amazon does with this data is essentially out of Vendors’ hands. There is potential that Amazon could leverage data and information to compete with Vendors directly. This is less of a concern for major, global brands. But smaller Vendors should be aware of this possibility.


What AVS won’t help vendors with

If you’re looking for specific solutions for really specific aspects of running your business, AVS is not the answer. AVS will not or cannot implement Amazon Advertising.

AVS also does not recover chargebacks or shortages for vendor accounts.

AVS is also solely focused on the Amazon ecosystem. If you are operating an omnichannel approach, AVS is not going to help with external platforms, such as social media, eCommerce on other channels, or general business needs. For example, if you’re looking for an accountant to interface with your Amazon Vendor channel or customer service help, AVS is not the answer.


Alternatives to AVS 

Because of the cost and difficulty of getting out of AVS, Vendors considering AVS need to be aware of the full picture and downsides before signing up. Dependency on Amazon and your account’s specific needs and size should be top considerations. If the cost does make sense for your business, then be sure you are aware of the limitations and risks that are entirely dependent on your Brand Strategist.

For many Vendors, AVS is simply not the answer. External support from a full-service Amazon vendor-specific agency like WAKE Commerce can offer more customised and broadly resourced strategic account management. This includes everyday needs that we frequently resolve faster and before involving a Brand Specialist.

While the AVS scheme offers a point person, which can be incredibly useful, it doesn’t necessarily mean faster or better solutions. An experienced partner such as WAKE's account managers can fully assess the account needs with any Vendor and determine if AVS is a good fit.

While Amazon touts the benefits of AVS offering a comprehensive suite of tools and individual support, businesses need to weigh the benefits against AVS’ potential downsides.

Long-term costs, customised business needs, privacy concerns, and Brand Specialist skills are all factors to consider. Ultimately, the decision to use AVS should align with a Vendor’s strategic goals, operational capacity, and long-term growth plans.

If you decide AVS is not for you, or you have more questions related to your account management, contact WAKE today.  


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About the Author

James Wakefield is an Amazon Vendor expert and the founder of WAKE Commerce.

Having been involved in the internet since year dot (com), James established WAKE in 2015 to share his passion for data, branding and online retail strategy.

Since then, WAKE has helped leading consumer brands build a more profitable relationship with Amazon, navigate the many complexities of the platform and scale their business on the world’s biggest marketplace.

With a particular focus on Vendor Central, James consults with scaling businesses that want to make Amazon work for their brand.