7 Alternatives to Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)
If you're a seller looking to outsource your shipping and handling, it's likely you've caught wind of Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). The online shopping giant has developed an all-in-one solution for sellers that integrates easily within its marketplace and encompasses storage, packaging, and shipping.
But while the big name is enticing, we outline why you might not want to go with Amazon and what company might be a better fit instead.
What is Fulfillment by Amazon?
Essentially, you send inventory to one of its many fulfillment centers around the country and they take care of the rest – from the moment a buyer clicks "buy" to the moment it reaches their doorstep.
Why You Shouldn't Use Amazon FBA
Fulfillment by Amazon has a mighty reputation. Why question it? Your orders are eligible for free shipping and, as Amazon touts on their website, "qualified FBA listings are displayed with the Prime logo." This can go a long way in instilling buyer confidence.
On the other hand, FBA may not be right for you if you're a smaller or newer seller. If you look at the FBA fees and rate structure, the costs could outweigh your profits if you're not careful!
One t-shirt less weighing 11 oz would cost $3.68 to pick, pack, and ship (that's including a 40 cent clothing fee). A large 49 pound monitor would cost $75.78 to fulfill! And that's not including monthly storage fees, which more than triple during the holiday season from October to December, as well.
Amazon FBA Alternatives
If you search for alternatives to FBA, you're going to find dozens of 3rd party logistics services. Multichannel Merchant listed 52 when reviewing 2019's top 3PL's. You likely don't have time to go through 52 company listings, so we've selected 7 that we think will be best for you!
Best for: B2C products; small ecommerce sellers; beauty, apparel, and media goods
What makes them special: No minimum requirements, setup fees, or charges for long-term storage
Average annual order volume per client: 8,000
Opening in 2001 as a family-owned 3PL, eFulfillment Service (EFS) is committed to "take care of your orders while you run the store."
EFS can be an ideal solution for small ecommerce sellers because of their minimal cost. No setup fees, integration fees, minimum order requirements, long-term storage fees, or long-term contracts means maximum flexibility and profit for you.
They provide fulfillment software to monitor orders and inventory as well as free integrations to popular ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Shopify, and more.
Best for: B2C products; fast US domestic shipping; apparel, consumer goods, and electronics
What makes them special: Guaranteed 100% accuracy or delivery is free and ships in 1-2 days to 98% of the US
Average annual order volume per client: 25,000
Rakuten specializes in fast, accurate shipments within 2 days across the US. They are part of the Rakuten Group Company, which "provides a variety of consumer and business-focused services including ecommerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports."
Thanks to this breadth of experience, Rakuten Super Logistics can provide you with value-adds such as specialized fulfillment facility liaisons, customer loyalty program perks, and marketing services.
Best for: B2C products; global shipping; durable goods, health & beauty, and apparel
What makes them special: Facilities strategically located across North America and the world supports fast and accurate global shipping
Average annual order volume per client: 21,659
"Worldwide" is the keyword Fulfillment.com uses to describe their services. With facilities in Nevada, Georgia, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Utah, and Mexico, Fulfillment.com can get you where you want to go.
You can choose your storage facilities so that when an order is placed, it can quickly get to your desired customers.
Best for: B2B products; fast US domestic shipping; apparel, health & beauty, and food & beverage goods
What makes them special: Can reach 95% of the US population within 2 days, even in peak season
Average annual order volume per client: 85,000
IDS gives you the power to outsource part or all of your fulfillment needs, including storage, distribution, and returns. Great for higher-volume online vendors selling in the US, IDS specializes in offering fast and flexible services and meeting peak season demands.
Best for: B2B & B2C products; small and medium-sized businesses; consumer electronics, general merchandise, and healthcare products
What makes them special: Well-established transportation and infrastructure system inherited from its mother company, FedEx
Average annual order volume per client: 1,130,000
Built on the backbone of FedEx in 2017, FedEx Fulfillment offers all the power of FedEx's courier services.
Though it targets small and medium sized businesses, FedEx Fulfillment supports the highest annual order volume per client on our list of 3PL alternatives.
Best for: B2B products; goods above 5 pounds and/or requiring light assembly or customization; furniture, household, electronics, and sporting goods
What makes them special: Guaranteed 100% accuracy and promise to pay $50 anytime a single mistake is made
Average annual order volume per client: 10,000-40,000
Red Stag Fulfillment was founded "when the owners of a successful eCommerce company switched fulfillment providers three times and still couldn't find a fulfillment partner who could meet their expectations."
Based on their experience, they developed a fulfillment partner questionnaire to help other business with the search for a 3PL. It's a great exercise in finding the best fulfillment partner for you – whether or not it's Red Stag!
This and their impressive promise to pay customers $50 per mistake displays their commitment to putting the customer first.
Best for: B2C products; beauty, health, personal care, clothing, shoes, accessories, and consumer electronics
What makes them special: Affordable same-day delivery for orders placed in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago
Average annual order volume per client: 1,800
Self-dubbed a "tech-first solution," ShipBob offers a free software platform for sellers to "maintain control over inventory, orders, and shipments" while using their fulfillment centers and services at comparatively low rates.
Their one-day shipping for 3 major metropolitan areas in the US can be a major advantage for merchants targeting those cities, and 2-day delivery is still the standard for the rest of the country.
Because of the wide variety and sheer number of 3PLs out there, it's going to take some research on your part to find the best FBA alternative for you. Use resources like this article, Red Stag's fulfillment partner questionnaire, and Multichannel Merchant's Top 3PLs 2019 search page to narrow down your options for your unique needs.
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