• Merchant AI

The real cost of manually downloading Vendor Central reports

Updated: May 2, 2019


Anyone dealing with Vendor Central knows how tedious it is to monitor their Vendor Central portal and download data manually. The manual process is so tedious that data collection is often compromised by only downloading monthly, rather than weekly.

The default "free" ARA Basic offering typically allows you to see last week's and last month's view of each report, so if you want to build up a statistical history then you need to download reports weekly to have weekly data resolution.

The reality is even worse:

  • Response times are poor especially on Mondays when everyone is online seeking any Unconfirmed POs

  • Not all reports download first time due to time-outs, or data availability is delayed and you need to remember to try again later

  • Downloaded Excel/csv/xml files need renaming and saving

  • Saved data needs copy/pasting, merging or uploading into some overall spreadsheet or database to see the trends

  • Amazon adds new sales programs (Prime Now, Fresh, Business) increasing the number of reports to download

  • Goofs happen

Based on time studies of some mid- to large Manufacturer's Reps, gathering a useful subset each marketplace account's report data can take 10-15 minutes per account.

With 10s or even 100s of VC marketplace accounts, this data gathering exercise takes hours or even days, and the data only emerges midway through the next period!

Overall, data downloading and subsequent spreadsheet massaging can take 20-30% of a typical employee's time for little value-add.

Naturally Amazon offers a Premium ARA service which allows you to buy your way out of diligently collecting data but the price is typically of the order of 1% of sales.

If that doesn't appeal, have you ever wondered what the real cost of downloading is?

Obvious hard cash costs are:

  • Employee time -- at, say, $40k/yr (~$20/hr) in the US * Number of accounts * 10-15 minutes per marketplace account

  • Employee fringe benefits -- often another 30-40% on top of employee salary

And then there are the opportunity costs of the time not well-spent:

  • Wasted time that would be better spent on demand generation activities

  • Reacting to stale data that is several days old

  • Frustrated employee turnover

These costs are really significant -- if you could save 25% of each employee's time and put that effort into more rewarding activities (more accounts, more demand generation, deeper attention the existing portfolio products), you could generate at least a third more revenue for the same cost base. For an a business with 30% margins, the extra revenue could grow your margins to nearly 50% or be used to make your service proportionately more competitive.

There is a better way. Merchant AI can, on your behalf overnight, automatically download the reports, merge the data into a historical record and highlight issues and opportunities for your attention.

This service is the foundation for a smart and effective workflow that allows you to focus on the tasks that are fun and value adding and ultimately most rewarding for the business.

The service is confidential and the cost is very reasonable -- unless perhaps you have excess time on your hands.