Top Alternatives to Fulfillment by Amazon
Of the numerous tasks and responsibilities involved in running an online business, the most important is ensuring that products ordered by your customers are promptly delivered to them. However, from the time a customer places an order to the time they actually receive the item they have bought, there is a chain of processes which have to be accomplished.
If you are an online retailer, your customers will expect you to provide affordable, flexible and speedy delivery whenever they order. They expect that you are able to deliver their orders by the date promised.
On the other hand, if you are a customer ordering an item from Amazon, then you know that a ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ logo means that your expectations will be met. The advanced fulfillment system that Amazon has established is a major differentiator and has set the bar high for merchants. As a matter of fact, the service is a major part of the company’s foundation. As a large retailer with extensive networks, Amazon possesses the technology and resources to offer customers free, or even within-the-hour product shipping.
Despite its market-leading position and popularity, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) may not be for everyone. Here we will explore order fulfillment services as well as quality alternatives to Fulfillment by Amazon (Amazon FBA).
What Is an Order Fulfillment Service?
Before considering order fulfillment, it is important to acknowledge that there are certain advantages to fulfilling your own orders, mainly flexibility and cost. Because of these reasons, startup businesses, or those that have unique packaging requirements, often choose to take care of their own logistics. No matter the age of the business or the industry, any seller that does not have sufficient cash flow is better off taking care of things in-house.
However, if you own a fast-growing business and have the necessary financial resources to outsource, you may want to investigate the option of third-party order fulfillment and warehousing. Although the most obvious benefit of third-party logistics is that you do not have to handle this complicated aspect of retail by yourself, an order fulfillment service has many more advantages that could have a positive impact on the growth of your business.
Among these are improved order processing, checkout, payment processing, storage management, packing, shipping and delivery. In addition, if a customer is not satisfied with the product and requires it to be returned or exchanged, you will also need a process to handle it.
An order fulfillment service is a company that completes the processes above for other businesses including eCommerce, online stores and even brick and mortar businesses that lack their own distribution and storage facilities. They have the necessary expertise and come fully equipped to handle these tasks, leaving you to focus on the marketing and selling of your products. Most online businesses move, store and deliver items to their customers and grow their businesses rapidly due to their use of order fulfillment solutions.
Fulfillment by Amazon
Fulfillment by Amazon, also known as FBA is the order fulfillment solution offered by global retail giant, Amazon. Any seller worth their salt understands that having a prominent presence on Amazon.com is essential to their business success, and high visibility on Amazon Prime is doubly important. This is the reason you need to get to grips with the FBA program.The fact that FBA it is backed by such a marquee company is, by itself, enough reason for many businesses to use the service. The offerings on FBA are extensive and tap into the well-developed infrastructure and worldwide presence of its parent company, giving online businesses a trusted reputation and much wider market reach. The Amazon FBA business is accessible to any business or individual who sells online, particularly those selling via multiple channels, people selling small items and Amazon.com sellers.
All this offers an enormous advantage to you as a seller, as it lets you place all your focus on building your business without having to first get to grips with the various skill-sets fulfillment requires or taking up a lot of your time on energy-sapping tasks. Because Amazon has the logistics and technology taken care of on your behalf, you can go back to doing the important stuff: sourcing products, building up your brand and growing your business.
Simply making use of the Amazon network for your fulfillment needs and having a ‘Fulfilment by Amazon’ logo alongside your items will have a great psychological impact on your customers and give the credibility of your brand a massive boost.
Fulfillment by Amazon also provides you with access to the company’s world-renowned customer service that includes 24/7 email and telephone support; you can rest easy that your customers are getting the best service they possibly can, without you having to put in the long hours and extra effort required to provide it. The customer service package that comes with FBA even includes handling customer returns, freeing you from the hassle of reverse logistics.
FBA Sounds Great! So, Why Seek an Alternative?
When you decide to sell your wares on Amazon, your own website or any other popular ecommerce platform, you need to tackle an important inventory fulfillment decision: whether to operate your business under the FBA model or to find an alternative fulfillment solution. Although Amazon FBA offers a host of advantages as outlined above, it also has some distinct disadvantages that can be mitigated by one of the alternative order fulfillment services available.
First off, do you think that Amazon will open up their infrastructure and store goods in their warehouses free-of-charge? Most certainly not! Amazon has certain setup requirements that come at a cost and they also charge storage fees for your inventory depending on how much warehouse space you require and how long your goods are stored. Ultimately, you will have to do the math and have to determine whether your sales numbers will be sufficient to cater to the shipping and storage costs, while leaving you with a decent profit.
In addition, Amazon requires that your goods are prepared up to a certain standard if they are to be stored in their warehouses: a costly and time-consuming process. The company also imposes strict rules on its seller to make sure that their goods do not damage other sellers’ wares within their warehouses. Since you have to play by Amazon’s rules, there is little choice but to obey and package your goods, or Amazon will charge you if they have to do it for you.
So, to FBA or not to FBA? Despite a few disadvantages when using Amazon FBA, many sellers starting out in ecommerce probably feel that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. However, if you are still not sold on using Amazon’s fulfillment service, there are several alternatives that you could consider.
What Alternatives Are There To FBA?
Although it is by far the most popular, there are alternate order fulfillment services available besides Fulfillment by Amazon. We examine some of the top-rated FBA competitors and FBA alternatives:
1. FedEx Fulfillment
FedEx Fulfillment takes advantage of the established infrastructure of FedEx to offer its clients transportation, packaging, warehousing, reverse logistics and fulfillment. FedEx fulfillment is particularly well suited to small and medium-sized vendors who require fulfillment of orders from online marketplaces and websites. Such companies can use the service to bring together varied selling channels while managing their total inventory.
Among the leading features of FedEx Fulfillment are analytics of the spending habits of shoppers, real-time tracking of items, complete visibility of products and trend evaluation. This service provider has a seamless returns process, same-day fulfillment cut off and two-day shipping to most of the United States. For traders looking to go global, FedEx fulfills orders to more than 200 nations.
Visit Fedex Fulfillment: https://supplychain.fedex.com/solutions/fulfillment-for-small-medium-business/
Shipwire makes this list of top alternatives to Fulfillment by Amazon simply because it is a great option for businesses that need to fulfill orders globally. The company operates a collection of warehouses within the US, in addition to facilities in Europe, Australia, China and several other countries in Asia, with more in the pipeline.
In addition, this solution provider boasts one of the most sophisticated warehouse management systems in the business systems that enable the storage, handling and shipping of items to customers. The key benefit of using this service provider is that clients can choose the optimum packaging options and routes as well as couriers for a variety of products. Besides this, Shipwire utilizes on-demand and custom fulfillment tools that offer support to B2B and B2C sellers. Additional advantages are that businesses can select the best storage locations for items, make use of its insurance policies, calculate shipping costs and carry out brand promotion.
Visit Shipwire: https://www.shipwire.com/
ShipBob is a highly recommended service for vendors in the cities of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles since it guarantees them and their customers an affordable, same-day delivery solution in these locations. Shipbob provides its clients with two essential services: logistics and warehouse inventory as well as a full-featured software application through which they can communicate with customers, manage orders and keep an inventory of products.
The company is enjoying rapid growth and increasing popularity due to speedy onboarding and low rates. Besides the three cities, the vendor carries out standard fulfillment to other cities in the United States thanks to a nationwide network of product warehouses.
Visit ShipBob: https://www.shipbob.com/
4. Red Stag Fulfillment
Red Stag Fulfillment comes recommended as the ideal service for items that may require customization or assembly before shipping to customers, oversized items, fragile goods and high-value items. What makes this provider stand out from the rest is the fact that it offers a guarantee of 100% inventory accuracy, order accuracy, order speed and a 48-hour window from dock to stock.
The key advantage that Red Stag Fulfillment customers enjoy is that the provider has the ability to ship oversize and heavy items at a highly discounted rate by leveraging the advanced logistics and transportation network from FedEx. A state-of-the-art video surveillance system installed in its warehouses helps to prevent damage, theft and packaging mistakes.
Visit RedStag: https://redstagfulfillment.com/
Fulfillify claims to ship over 75 million items every year to customers from around the world. What’s more, sign up is quick and easy and set up is free. Because vendors are under no obligation to sign up to a long-term contract, they are free to switch to a different provider at any time they choose. This vendor handles all the details necessary to get started, which allows merchants to use their platform right from the go.
The platform itself is simple to use, and lets merchants easily track their products, manage their inventory and view orders in real time, even from mobile devices. In addition, it can be integrated seamlessly with existing eCommerce and shopping cart platforms.
Visit Fulfilify: http://fulfillify.com/
6. IDS Fulfillment
Integrated Distribution Services (IDS) is a recommended service tailored to traders who wish to ship their products quickly to customers within the US. According to the company’s promotional materials, the company can reach over 90% of the US population within 2 days. This is made possible by centers that are strategically located throughout the US mainland, all of which come equipped with the most advanced technology.
Sellers can outsource part of their fulfillment requirements such as distribution, returns and storage, or could choose to leave the entire process to IDS. The company is ideal for use by sellers who want to meet the demands of peak seasons thanks to its fast shipment times and highly optimized service.
Visit IDS Fulfillment: https://www.idsfulfillment.com/
There are Alternatives to Fulfillment by Amazon
Outsourcing your order fulfillment services to a third party could prove to be a game changer for your growing business. However, choosing the best fulfillment service is undoubtedly a tough decision that should not be taken lightly. If you are new to the world of ecommerce, Amazon FBA offers you a great way to make your first steps as an online merchant and lets you ride on the network and reputation of the biggest name in the business.
Despite Amazon being the largest online marketplace with the largest fulfillment program, there are still many other highly reliable, affordable and effective alternatives to Amazon FBA that can boost your online success. You should consider one of these alternatives, especially if your volumes are still low. This is because the startup costs and the monthly overheads of Amazon FBA can easily run into thousands of dollars and be prohibitive for new online businesses. Many alternative fulfillment services give you more flexibility and leeway with regard to product branding, making them viable alternatives to Fulfillment by Amazon.