Amazon Begins Biggest API Migration in 15 Years – Why It Matters to Sellers

If your company leverages Amazon's Seller API for any custom tools or apps, then you're probably aware that Amazon has begun rolling out the biggest changes to its API in nearly 15 years. Not a developer and think it doesn't affect you? Well, if you use any Amazon software, then you should be aware of the major changes that are coming into effect in the coming months. 

The first of these impacts on sellers will occur on May 22, 2023, as you'll be asked to rotate certain credentials for the software you use. There will be other impacts you can expect from the new API. In this article, we'll break down how it will affect you as a seller.

What Is an API and What Is the Amazon MWS API?

An API, or application program interface, is a set of protocols that allows one piece of software to talk to another. In this case, Amazon's API allows software tools like Helium 10 and Jungle Scout to get data from Amazon. Essentially, every single piece of Amazon software uses Amazon's API to some degree.

Amazon has a number of different APIs for a variety of uses for everything from Amazon Associates to Amazon sellers. In the case of sellers, this API is called the Amazon MWS API. The API allows a variety of different tasks to be done from listing products, managing orders, retrieving sales data, and more. 

What Is Changing with the API?

Amazon launched the MWS API in 2009. Very little has changed with the API in that time while much has changed with Amazon. In response to this, in 2020, Amazon announced the launch of the Amazon Selling Partner (SP-API).

From a developer's standpoint, there are a lot of changes in this API, specifically just a more modern approach utilizing RESTful APIs. From a seller's standpoint though, the new API will also offer a lot more data, including more detailed order information, inventory management capabilities, better access to advertising data, etc.

I'm a Seller, Not a Developer—Why Should I Care About Amazon's New API?

If you're just an Amazon seller and not a developer, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of. First, most of your Amazon software is going to be asking you to “re-authorize” your applications within Seller Central. This is normal and not some phishing scheme.

As a seller, expect to be asked to re-authorize most of your software apps in the coming months. Also, be on the lookout for access to new data in existing software.

Next, expect to see a lot of subtle changes in the coming months to your Amazon software. Specifically, expect to see data you might never have seen before.

Finally, there are inevitably going to be some backdoors that appear in the new API leading to some black hat and grey hat tactics from sellers until Amazon fixes the leaks. For instance, circa 2015, a backdoor appeared in the old Amazon MWS API where sellers were able to get access to real keyword volume before Amazon closed that backdoor. 

What Are Some Important Dates Regarding the New Selling Partner API?

amazon mws api ceases working
After April 1, 2024, developers will no longer be able to access the old Amazon API in any capacity.

There are a number of deadlines fast approaching. Most of these aren't of special importance to sellers, but they could impact the software you use.

  • September 2020 – The new Selling Partner API was announced
  • August 2023 – Developers need to migrate to the Selling Partner API for critical MWS sections, including orders and reports.
  • April 2024 – Amazon MWS will not be available for any developer after this data

Amazon has frequently rescheduled the above dates over the last 2 or 3 years, but the dates on this list appear to be more or less final.

Conclusion

The introduction of a new selling API was long overdue from Amazon. For developers, the migration to the new Amazon Selling Partner API has created a ton of work for existing Amazon software companies in order to upgrade their software to work with the new API. As a seller, the impact to you will be far less burdensome but you can expect to see some fairly significant changes to the software you use in the coming months.

Dave Bryant

Dave Bryant has been importing from China for over 10 years and has started numerous product brands. He sold his multi-million dollar ecommerce business in 2016 and create another 7-figure business within 18 months. He's also a former Amazon warehouse employee of one week.

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