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amazon agency bi-weekly — what reporting data is available in amazon’s seller central and vendor central?
Last post, we gave you a few options for how to report on Amazon data, specifically Amazon Advertising API data and Operations data that you can extract from Seller Central or Vendor Central. If you are just getting started in running your Amazon-focused digital agency or managing your own brand on the platform, the obvious next step is to now figure out what you should report on to communicate the most important KPI’s on Amazon. In order to do that, you’ll need to first understand what data is available to you in each respective platform, Vendor Central and Seller Central, and where to locate the reports that contain the metrics. Please note that this was written in June of 2019 and the available information in Amazon is subject to change, as Amazon often does. In this article, we’re going to focus on Operations data that is available and will move on to which metrics to present (visually report) and how Amazon Advertising API data fits into this mess in the next few weeks’ worth of posts. As a working definition for ‘Operations’ data, we will use this: “Operations data is the set of reported metrics Amazon makes available directly relating to your sales and traffic performance on the platform.”
We could get into a long winding discussion about what the most important KPI’s related to Amazon are, but in reality, the correct answer is based on your agency model or what you want the channel to be for your brand. Are you focused on profitability? Are you trying to gain market share? Do you manage all aspects of the channel? Or are you focused on the marketing opportunities available to you? For the sake of time and to prevent your eyes glazing over, we’ve focused on Sales Growth as the over-arching “goal” for the channel as it relates to the metrics we’ve emphasized below. You will see some metrics related to Inventory performance included as being In-Stock has a direct effect on Sales in Amazon (I know, duh). If you think we missed a metric that is absolutely essential to Amazon sales growth and management, and trust me, we will “miss” a few, shoot me a line on LinkedIn or via my email at the bottom of this post.
Limitations of Vendor Central and Seller Central Operations Data
Remember, when speaking about Amazon Operations data, for most metrics and the reports from which they come, there is no API that provides the data flow. So, you are stuck pulling manual reports and housing them in a local Excel spreadsheet or database of your choice. At Dash, we realized manually pulling and storing data was an inherent limitation to efficiency and growth for brands and agencies so we created a data warehousing solution that you can check out on our website if you are looking for Amazon data flow and a storage solution. Dash/DATA is designed to pull, ingest, store and make available for reporting both your Amazon Advertising API Data as well as the Amazon Operations Data described below.
No matter which platform you’re working with, there are inherent look-back window limitations for data availability in Amazon. This means that in some cases, if you miss your chance to pull data for a given month or week, you are going to be missing chunks of data in your historical set. To put it plainly, if you miss pulling data in May, April data could be gone forever and your reports are going to look quite strange whilst you embarrassingly try to pull June’s forecast out of…thin air.
As a sweeping generalization, Vendor Central Operations Data is sparser than Seller Central Operations Data. Amazon owns the customer no matter which platform you’re on but as a Third Party Seller on Seller Central, you own the sale to the customer and therefore require more information to manage your business as opposed to fulfilling PO’s to Amazon in Vendor Central.
For Amazon Retail Analytics (aka ARA Basic), the default reporting available to Vendors, look-back windows are the most strict. Most reports only allow you to select the ‘Current to Date’ time period and the ‘Last Reported’ time period. For Example, if it’s June currently, you’ll only be able to generate monthly reports for May and June. Same goes for a given Quarter or Year. The Daily interval allows for the last 7 days prior to the current day and the Weekly interval gives you a small bonus of including one period prior to the ‘Last Reported’ along with the ‘Current to Date’ and ‘Last Reported’ weeks of performance.
Amazon Retail Analytics Premium (aka ARA Premium) is the irrationally expensive upgrade to ARA Basic made available at varying price tags for Vendors. In addition to receiving additional reports and data outlined below, ARA Premium also loosens the restrictions on look-back windows. In general, you’ll get to look back on data for monthly, quarterly, or yearly time intervals for up to two years prior to the current date. For example, if it’s June 2019, you will be able to generate monthly reports all the way back to May 2017 (two full years prior to the current month). For the daily and weekly time intervals, data is generally restricted to a one year look-back window from the current date.
Not only is data generally more comprehensive in Seller Central, but the look-back windows are also much more generous than ARA Basic. For most reports, regardless of the time interval you are trying to generate for, you can get data for up to two years prior to the current date.
Keep in mind, you should manually pull Operations data for all reports as far back as you possibly can upon initial access to an account on Seller Central or Vendor Central. This will ensure that you have the most comprehensive data set possible to work with when it comes time to assess historical performance and make fancy forecasts. You never know when you’ll need it, but you’ll definitely miss it when it’s gone.
Vendor Central — Amazon Retail Analytics Basic
Without additional further adieu, here are the primary Operations metrics available to you for reporting and analytics by platform. We start with a Vendor Central account that is using the Amazon Retail Analytics Basic reporting solution. The below lists are organized by Reporting Module > Report followed by the Metrics in a bulleted list. For Sales related information, you get a grand total of one report, the Sales Diagnostic report. It includes the following metrics of note:
Sales and Traffic Dashboards > Sales Diagnostic Report
If you’re asking, “Is that it?”, the answer is, “Yes”. It’s actually shameful how little information is available in Vendor Central for the average Vendor. You also get a small slice of inventory forecasting information included in the next section of reports that brands can use to help project the PO’s Amazon is going to cut for you. We would be remiss if we didn’t say “use caution” when relying on this forecasting. Our very own Todd Vanderstelt had a hand in creating the algorithms that determine ordering for Amazon and even he doesn’t take their word as truth:
Operations Dashboards > Forecast and Inventory Planning
Operations Dashboards > Inventory Health
As mentioned, we will detail how to use this information to construct your reporting and insights so hang on for our next post if you’re ready to get moving on reporting. Without going too far into the weeds, here are some important data points that are missing for the typical Vendor using ARA Basic:
Vendor Central — Amazon Retail Analytics Premium
For those brands fortunate enough to have Vendor Central’s Amazon Retail Analytics Premium, the data set increases significantly. Here are the reports by module that are available to Premium Vendors; I’ve avoided breaking out each individual metric included for the sake of saving your time and paper:
Sales and Traffic Dashboards >
Operations Dashboards >
Consumer Behavior Dashboards >
It’s easy to see that Amazon Retail Analytics Premium has a much-expanded data set beyond that of the Basic reporting. Of note, ARA Premium includes Revenue figures in the form of Ordered Revenue, reporting Sales in the final sale price as opposed to the Wholesale Cost (Shipped COGS per the above) that ARA Basic reporting returns. However, much of ARA Premium’s data is not in whole number form; it is indexed against prior periods or competitor info and leaves much to be desired for information. You, like us, may soon realize that ARA Premium reporting may not be worth the price tag.
Seller Central — Business Reports, Fulfillment Reports, and Brand Analytics
And finally, we move to our personal favorite, Seller Central. You’ll recognize that although Seller Central might not have all of the reports available in Amazon Retail Analytics Premium reporting for Vendors, it does have significantly more data than the Amazon Retail Analytics Basic reporting of Vendor Central. In addition to the reports and metrics typically available, Seller Central has recently rolled out ‘Brand Analytics’ reporting that includes information eerily similar to that of Vendor Central’s Amazon Retail Analytics Premium. The Brand Analytics section has been broken out separately from the Operations data for clarity:
Business Reports > Detail Page Sales and Traffic (Cumulative Performance for all ASINs/SKUs )
Business Reports >Detail Page Sales and Traffic by Child Item (Performance by individual ASINs/SKUs in the Catalog)
Includes the same metrics as above report but EXCLUDES:
Fulfillment Reports > Amazon Fulfilled Shipments
Brand Analytics > Amazon Search Terms
Brand Analytics > Item Comparison
Brand Analytics >Demographics