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E-Commerce Integration Into Amazon Not Exactly Like Placing It Into Your Shopping Cart

Aug 17, 2007
Simply, Amazon provides merchants with the ability to sell their products through the Amazon.com's ecommerce web site. However, in order to integrate successfully with Amazon, the Amazon.com API defines a specific set of feeds each merchant is required to submit to, and receive from, Amazon. Some of the Feeds are transactional in nature while others are batch-oriented and loaded on a periodic basis. The Amazon API requires submitted Feeds conform to a strictly defined process. The process dictates many things, such as the order in which the Feeds can be submitted, the size of each Feed that is allowed, the file formats and compression that is required, and the time interval for submission of Feeds.

The required information for the Amazon.com Feeds include items available within the merchant's e-commerce application, such as product name and pricing, as well as data that is specific to Amazon.com, called Enrichment data. Examples of Enrichment are the specific taxonomy merchants map to for the category of products sold and the "Keywords" included to make their products accessible on the site.

To classify products, Amazon defines product categories as "Stores." The purpose of Stores is to make it easier for potential customers to locate and purchase the items from the retailer that are of interest to them. Amazon Stores vary from Apparel to Gourmet Foods to Sporting Goods.

Solutions for Amazon Supported Feeds

The headaches involved with seamlessly interoperating with Amazon.com's API and keeping current with the new capabilities being developed by Amazon.com are neatly resolved by using standardized e-Commerce integration solutions.

For example, LINC for Amazon.com from Bostech Corp eliminates the complexity of dealing with an unknown, sparsely documented, fast-moving system.
Snowshack.com was looking for a seamless solution to integrate their original product store of ski, snowboards and snowsports accessories with Amazon. Snowshack.com selected LINC for Amazon.com to automate the pull of product information from their existing table-driven store over http and supplement it with additional information required by Amazon feeds. LINC for Amazon.com also coordinates current inventory over ftp and order information by email between Snowshack.com's remote warehouse and Amazon. More than a year after go-live, Snowshack.com pulls thousands of orders annually through this automated venue.

The following lists the Amazon Feeds by category, which any merchant must comply with to deliver to the Amazon.com API.

Merchant Setup

These are manually-defined settings which are configured by the merchant in Seller Central. They determine business rules and provide content to establish the Merchant on the Amazon.com platform.

Merchant Profile
Merchant Help Pages
Storefront Layout, Images, and Content
Shipping Tables
Tax Rules

Product Setup and Maintenance

Amazon.com's approach to uniquely identifying products and collecting the information required to merchandise them.

Product Feed
Image Feed
Price Feed
Inventory Feed
Relationship Feed

Order Management

Provides the info required to fulfill orders placed via Amazon.com, accept or reject the orders, and ship the orders.

Order Feed
Order Acknowledgement Feed
Order Fulfillment Feed

Adjustments and Settlement

Adjustment Feed addresses returns, out-of-stock conditions, price discrepancies, rebates, refunds, and the like. Settlement Feeds detail all financial transactions between Amazon.com and the Merchant and reconciles this information with your application(s).

Adjustment Feed
Settlement Feed

Choosing an Amazon.com e-Commerce Integration Partner
When choosing an Amazon.com integration partner, merchants should look for a vendor that can:

Simplify the integration. Ideally,the solution should automate the integration from retail systems to the Amazon Platform, eliminating the need for complex technical discussions, keeping the focus on the business value offered by Amazon Services, where it should be.

Accelerate time to market. A good partner will enable rapid e-commerce integration to the Amazon Platform, bringing the merchant from signing to go-live in days instead of months.

Obtain affordable integration. Ask if the vendor can offer a hosted or installed software option to suit a merchant's needs, making the capability to integrate with Amazon available to all merchants, regardless of size, at a consistently affordable price-point.

Finally, make sure the vendor is a Certified Systems Integrator of Amazon Services, to ensure that the partner has proven its e-commerce integration services.
About the Author
Kristen Puckett has been in sales and marketing of software technology for more than 20 years. Currently she writes on emerging java business integration and e-commerce integration for Bostech Corporation.
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