Managing an online store is tough, and if you were to take care of shipping and order fulfillment all by yourself, it would be a disaster. If you want to focus your attention on scaling your business without worrying about mundane responsibilities like shipments, Amazon has got you covered.
Previously, with the Amazon FBA program, Amazon sellers were allowed to avail the eCommerce giant’s order fulfillment service. Amazon has extended the service to brands selling on Amazon and other platforms. Today, we will educate you on how you can use Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services to cater to your non-Amazon customers.
What Is Amazon Multi-channel Fulfillment Service?
Amazon multi-channel fulfillment (MCF) is a part of Amazon’s FBA program, where Amazon will store your products in their warehouse and take care of the shipments on your behalf.
Under this program, your job ends at receiving the orders and sending the product to Amazon. Next, the concerned team at Amazon will pack your product and ship it off to the respective customers.
The best part is that, unlike other fulfillment services, you can use MCF for orders placed through Shopify, Woocommerce, Bigcommerce, and even your own website.
How Does Amazon Multi-channel Fulfillment Services Work
Before you sign up for multi-channel fulfillment services, here is a brief insight into how these order fulfillment services work:
1. Stock Up at Amazon Fulfillment Centres
A lot of business owners struggle to have sufficient inventory space for their products. However, signing up for the MCF program gives you access to Amazon’s fulfillment centers, where you can store your inventory almost indefinitely.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is that Amazon has thousands of warehouses worldwide, and only a handful of those in the USA are dedicated to MCF sellers.
Send your product to Amazon or ask them to collect it from you. They will then select an adequate fulfillment center that works best for your business.
2. Platform Integration
Amazon has more than a hundred pre-built integrations which you can use to connect your Amazon account with other shopping websites like Shopify and Woocommerce. The MCF program will allow you to connect your brand’s own website with your Amazon account.
Once the integrations are finalized, your orders received at the respective shopping site will be automatically registered on Amazon without you having to add the new orders manually.
3. Packaging and Delivery
Amazon has multiple fulfillment options when it comes to MCF. It will choose the most suitable fulfillment service depending on your product, location, and availability.
You can send your product directly to Amazon or wait for them to pick it up from your store. Either way, once they have your product, they will pack it in their own brand package and schedule it for shipment.
The only catch here is that Amazon prioritizes FBA over MCF. Hence, you can expect slight delays in deliveries, especially during rush hours and the holiday season.
Amazon Multichannel Fulfillment: Pricing
Amazon charges a small fee for the service it provides. Here are the two types of fees you will have to pay under MCF:
Naturally, you’d have to pay for inventory space and management. The standard fee is $0.69 per cubic foot. Note that during holidays and increased demand, Amazon increases the storage fees to $2.40 per cubic foot.
Amazon charges a certain fee for each product they deliver for you. The exact fulfillment charges depend on the delivery location, order weight, speed of delivery, and the total number of products. You can learn more about the shipping charges through MCF here.
Is Amazon Multi-channel Fulfillment Really Worth It?
Order fulfillment automation like Amazon MCF is a relatively new concept. Hence, before you hand over your shipping responsibilities to Amazon, let’s evaluate if the program is really worth it.
Pros of Amazon MCF
Here are a few benefits of using Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services:
1. Frictionless Order Fulfillment
Signing up for Amazon’s multi-channel fulfillment service guarantees that your order will be delivered right to your customers’ doorstep without any hiccup. After all, it’s not just about handing over responsibilities and automating order shipping; any other courier service could do that for you.
Amazon being Amazon – a global eCommerce giant, it has its own efficient team and resources for order fulfillment. Unlike other delivery services, you do not have to worry about damaged products, broken packaging, lost orders, or unacceptable delays. They have thousands of fulfillment centers and an equally competent team with access to the best-in-class technology and transportation service.
2. Double Up Your Stocking Capacity
Let’s face it: inventories are costly. Even if you decide to store the product at your house or shop, you will have to invest thousands of bucks in storage costs. An alternative would be to cut back on your storage capacity, which isn’t ideal.
However, under the Amazon multi-channel fulfillment service, you get access to their spacious fulfillment centers at an affordable rate. You’ll then have enough inventory space to store your products, allowing you to double up your stocks and cater to a large number of customers.
3. 24×7 security
Storing products in your inventory is not enough. You also need to take the necessary measures to secure your valuable inventory. You will often need to hire a full-time security agent to keep perpetrators away.
As a business owner, the responsibility of keeping products worth thousands safe throughout the year can be burdening. Fortunately, MCF products stored in Amazon inventories fall under their security and surveillance.
Once a product reaches their facilities, it’s their responsibility to keep it safe. In this case, even if the security is compromised and your products are lost or stolen, you will have all the rights to hold Amazon liable for the damage.
4. Fast Shipping
It’s impossible to deny Amazon’s dominance over other eCommerce shops. Its vast network of fulfillment centers, transportation routes, and delivery associates allows it to offer the fastest deliveries that are pretty much impossible for any other order fulfillment service to match.
Although Amazon prioritizes FBA over MCF and the latter is comparatively costlier, it is still the best option to get your product delivered to customers from and to any corner of the USA.
5. Customer Service
The worst nightmare of a business owner is a desperately waiting customer and an unresponsive delivery associate. Amazon has excellent customer service. Except for unforeseen crises like the Covid-19 outbreak, their customer service is usually up and running.
Cons of Using Amazon MCF Service
Here are a few drawbacks of using Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services:
1. High Fees
Although the standard fee for Amazon MCF services is pretty reasonable, the price hike during high demands and holiday seasons can bleed out your profits. Considering the 4x storage and shipment charges hike, your profits would be in peanuts.
Brands are already in a brawl to attract customers before holidays with exclusive discounts and offers. Imagine how strenuous it’d be for them to pay additional shipping fees for each product they choose to deliver via Amazon MCF!
2. Limited Integration Opportunities
Although Amazon’s multi-channel fulfillment services cater to quite a few eCommerce channels, they miss out on an ever-larger number, including giants like Walmart and eBay.
Products sold on these platforms cannot be registered or fulfilled through Amazon MCF. If you have a diverse shopping channel network, you will have to hire a separate delivery partner for orders placed through those platforms.
3. No International Shipping
Although Amazon itself delivers products worldwide, its multi-channel fulfillment service does not offer the same benefit. If you receive international orders, you can either sign for a global FBA or find a way to fulfill those orders yourself.
Even with the global FBA service, you cannot deliver orders received through other shopping channels. Also, setting up an international FBA service is quite tedious. You have to set up a separate FBA account for each country, manage the listings individually, and send your products individually to the registered countries. This process is both complicated and time-consuming and might not be worth the hassle.
4. No Returns
Return requests are pretty common in online shopping. Perhaps the biggest drawback of Amazon multi-channel services is you cannot count on them to handle your order returns and refunds.
Amazon MCF will have you fund the return process from your own pocket. Moreover, it directs the customer to send the order back to your house or store – Amazon fulfillment centers do not accept returned orders.
Small and medium-scale businesses do not have the resources to manage every aspect of the business themselves. Automation services and outsourcing a few business processes can help you focus on the more important aspects that actually require attention.
The key to having a widely renowned business is to have a vast delivery network. And there is no easier way to cater to customers throughout the USA than hopping onto the service of the biggest eCommerce brand in the world – Amazon. Weigh Amazon MCF’s pros and cons and decide for yourself whether it’d be the right choice for you!