In the era of online shopping and with the promptness of service displayed by the e-commerce retailers, customers have come to expect fast, affordable and flexible delivery options whenever they order products online. Online shoppers expect to receive their orders on the promised date and there is no denying that Amazon has set the benchmark for order delivery. With their advanced fulfillment procedure, Amazon FBA has become one of the biggest yardsticks in the industry, eventhough they are setting the bar extremely high for merchants. Their technology and resources are able to deliver same day, tracked and even express.
Is Amazon Fulfillment the holy grail?
Amzon is good, but it does come with a price-tag. The cost of running your fulfilment through Amazon FBA is often higher than the available alternatives. Furthermore, there are two particular situations where Amazon FBA simply does not “cut it”. When you’re a smaller merchant you may find that the process of setting up FBA order fulfillment is tough and it may be especially cumbersome to meet the expectations of Amazon with regard to Barcoding or the way product is delivered into their warehouse. Amazon FBA’s processes are perceived my many retailers as rigid.
When you are an online retailer that uses multiple channels or marketplaces like Walmart or Groupon or have your own website running Shopify or Magento, Amazon FBA may simply not be an option. Walmart for instance does not allow its merchants to use Amazon FBA. They simply cannot have goods delivered with their competitor’s smiley logo on the box.
Therefore, many of the merchants depend on alternative 3rd party fulfillment services to manage the logistics of their online orders and save them money and the headache. So let’s take a look at some of the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) alternatives.
3rd Party fulfillment services – The trick of comparing them
When you expand your business and it starts growing faster, you may feel the dire need to outsource order fulfillment to a third party logistics company with the objective of saving money and time. If your requirement is to meet the benchmark of order fulfillment as set by Amazon, but you cannot or will not use Amazon FBA, why not ‘use’ an alternative 3PL that suits your requirements and delivers equal service?
When you’re to outsource to a 3rd Party Logistics provider, here are few factors that you need to consider:
- Structure of pricing: Consider the type of things you sell and how much it might cost to have them fulfilled on time. The fees that you have to pay will be based on weight and size of the items that will be shipped.
- Warehouses: Check the costs for picking your items, packing them and storing them in warehouses. Consider the location and numbers of warehouses in the vicinity of where you sell most of your orders.
- International: When you sell internationally, you need to ensure that your 3PL company of choice can ship your orders internationally. It should obviously be fast, possibly tracked and at competitive rates.
- Customer service: What do they do when something goes wrong with some order of the process of fulfillment? Is there any representative whom the customers can contact if needed? Is it 24/7? Check the available customer service.
- Software integration: You need to know whether the 3PL’s WMS (Warehouse Management System) integrates with your ecommerce platform(s) and marketplace(s). A good 3PL is already integrated with most used platforms.
Choosing an alternative to Fulillment by Amazon is definitely do-able. Define your requirements and contact a reputable 3PL. Watch an online retailer that found the solution.