Amazon sellers are able to obtain product and pricing information through something called an API. This is basically a way for computers to talk to each other over the Internet. All scouting tools, listing tools, repricing tools, use Amazon's API in order to obtain information about their products.
Until now, all product and pricing information has come from an API called the Product Advertising API (PAAPI for short). This API was originally intended for websites that advertise Amazon products, but since it contained so much useful information, the programmers who make tools for Amazon sellers have also been using it to provide information to their sellers.
Over the past couple of years, Amazon has been changing the data that they make available in PAAPI. That data is now pretty limited, but some sellers and those who make tools for sellers are currently except from these changes so that they can continue to access they data they they need to make scouting and repricing decisions.
A few days ago (on February 6th), Amazon announced that they will discontinue the Product Advertising API for sellers on August 31st 2012. Sellers must migrate to the recently announced MWS Products API before that date. The MWS Products API provide quite a different view of product pricing than sellers are used to with PAAPI. Under the old (PAAPI) method, it was easy for sellers to use up to 10 new and 10 used prices. The data included seller names, feedback ratings, quantities, and additional comments. (Notably absent was the shipping prices) Programs could also get more than the 10 lowest offers by making additional requests.
The new MWS Products API removes seller names, quantities, and additional comments. And now, instead of providing the all of the lowest prices, it groups all of the available offers into 'buckets' and shows the lowest price from that bucket. Each bucket has a unique combination of:
- Sub-Condition (New, Like New, Very Good, Good, Acceptable)
- FulfillmentChannel (FBA or Merchant-Fulfilled)
- ShipsDomestically (True, False, Unknown)
- ShippingTime (0-2 days, 3-7 days, 8-13 days, 14 or more days)
- SellerPositiveFeedbackRating (98-100%, 95-97%, 90-94%, 80-89%, 70-79%, Less than 70%, Just launched)
That is a little difficult to grasp, so I created a tool to help visualize that information. Take a look at some sample data with the MWS Product Visualization Tool. You'll just need to provide an ASIN and then select the condition (New or Used). The tool will then show you the data that is available from the new API. It is important for sellers to start looking at this information, as it will be the only data that is available after August 31st 2012.
Notable changes include:
- No Seller names. You won't be able to exclude specific sellers from repricing decisions
- Amazon.com is not identified - You won't be able to (easily) tell what Amazon.com's price is
- Quantities are not provided - You can't tell if a seller has 2 or 200 in stock
- Only the lowest prices are provided - You don't get a sense of the "depth" of the prices
- Shipping prices are Included!