Like other online retailers, we have a presence on the Amazon Marketplace. Amazon has a great model that allows quality sellers to make their products available to millions of buyers. However, their integration model for Marketplace sellers is kind of like the Bejing Olympics; dirty and dirtier.
We began with a smaller offering of some of our most popular products, and gradually increased the offering (and sales) on Amazon. Recently we were offered the chance to become an Amazon Gold Seller, meaning among other things that we’d offer more products for sale on Amazon. More products listed on Amazon = more sales from Amazon. A good thing, to be sure; however, we were currently manually entering Amazon orders into our site, and this was about to flood our customer service department.
Never fear, IT would come to the rescue (I left the cape at home though). As we had successfully integrated with PayPal and Google Checkout over the past year, I was pretty confident that the Amazon integration would be pretty straight-forward. After all, we are talking about the world’s largest online retailer. Why, they probably had a team of monkeys on standby to help with my every need, sample code to do the work for me, and color coded, easy to follow documentation that would point me right where I needed to go. Heck, I may put this one on autopilot and go golfing with my son.
So I began this integration the same way as always – looking for documentation online. Hmmm… that’s funny, I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for. No, that’s not it. No, I don’t want Amazon Web Services.
After a couple fruitless hours of searching, I finally just emailed our Amazon representative...
Matt: “Hi, can you email me the documentation to integrate with Amazon so we can process orders programmatically”
Amazon: “Let’s schedule a call with your technical team and we can discuss the options. We currently don’t have a formal document that describes this process.”
Say what?!?!? The world’s largest online retailer and Marketplace to thousands of merchants doesn’t have documentation for integrating with them? Turns out no, they don’t.
Some key paraphrases from that call and subsequent emails:
Matt: “Can you tell me how to access our orders?”
Amazon: “In order to download your orders, you have to use this tool (AMTU) that is open source. We wrote it, but we don’t support it at all. You have to download it from somewhere else”.
Matt: “I see online that you have a sandbox for testing this integration. Can you set me up with access to that?”
Amazon: “We no longer have a test environment. You have to test it live.”
Matt: “How can I push our order ID back into Amazon’s system?”
Amazon: “That option is not supported using flat file or manual fulfillment.” (The method they recommended we use)
So the bottom line is that if you are a merchant listing on Amazon, do not expect the level of information in integrating with Amazon that you may have become accustomed to elsewhere.
This story does have a mostly happy ending. In a matter of a couple of days, we were able to integrate with Amazon and import our Amazon orders into our order management solution, relieving a large burden from our awesome customer service team and freeing them up from data input to actually helping our customers.
If you are interested in more information regarding integrating with Amazon, PayPal, or Google Checkout, feel free to comment. I’m here to help!