Significant Amazon API Changes Looming

Impact to Sellers may be Significant. Are you Prepared?

As mentioned in a previous post back in February, Amazon’s Product Advertising API (PA-API) will be deprecated next month, along with a couple of Amazon’s original APIs, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Amazon Inventory Management (AIM) APIs. These APIs will be replaced by Amazon Marketplace Web Service (MWS). PA-API has been the primary data source for product and pricing information on for the past 10 years. By leveraging the PA-API price data in marketplace selling tools, merchants have relied on repricing rules to ensure items are competitively priced. Justifiably so, many merchants are expressing concern that the new API will effectively “break” re-pricing come the end of next month. If true, this would be a huge blow to many e-commerce businesses. I would like to address those concerns and clarify the potential impact the new MWS API will have on merchants.

What is PA-API?
PA-API was originally built in order to help affiliate advertisers post images and descriptions of items for sale on on their own websites in order to drive affiliate purchases. However, the pricing data which was made available via PA-API was also very useful for determining the best competitive sale price for a given marketplace item, and many sellers began using this data to determine their item price on Amazon. Monsoon Commerce was the first company to use this data to automatically price products and continually adjust price (“repricing”) in order to maintain a competitive position on marketplaces – both raising and lowering an item price to ensure that both revenue and margins were optimized. Additionally, product scanners, book look-up sites, and other tools have made use of PA-API data to help merchants compare potential inventory against current listings.

Amazon’s New API: Marketplace Web Service (MWS)
Since PA-API had always been intended to serve affiliate partners, Amazon recently decided to create a new API, the MWS Products API, to provide pricing data to sellers, as distinct from affiliate partners. This allows Amazon to manage this data stream more efficiently and to have more control over what information is available to sellers.

The MWS Products API has been available for testing for several months, and Monsoon Commerce has been working to change over from the PA-API data to the MWS data for nearly a year now. Due to our close and long-standing relationship with Amazon, we have been privy to these impending changes for quite some time, and have worked closely with Amazon to test and refine this new data source to ensure that our patented pricing engine will still provide the same level of functionality for all Amazon merchant programs (FBA, etc.).

Are you ready for the new API?
The deadline for these changes is fast approaching, as PA-API will soon no longer be accessible to sellers or third-party marketplace integrators as of August 2012. Any integrators or in-house systems will no longer function if still reliant on PA-API data. While some integrators have made the switch to the new data set, it is becoming increasingly clear many in-house systems have not been updated accordingly (we are getting lots of calls from those who are just now thinking about this). Since price management on the Amazon marketplace has become crucial to seller success, we expect there will be a period of some disruption as sellers adapt to these changes, depending on which pricing engine they rely on. We have designed our software to ensure that sellers experience uninterrupted service, see negligible change coming out of the new API environment and the features and functionality that our sellers rely on are 100% accurate and reliable.

Next Steps
If your online business depends on third-party marketplace selling tools for repricing, item scanning, and or look-ups, or if you have built custom integrations with the Amazon Product Ads API to use their data in support of your business, you may want to make sure you are covered before the end of August. If you do not currently use Monsoon Connect, Pro, or Edge as your marketplace selling software, you may want to speak to your providers and see where they are in making the transition. If you have a custom built integration, you may want to have similar conversations with your integrator or development team. And of course, if you find yourself in need of an alternative solution, drop us a note or give us a call to see how we can help.

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