As an online seller, you’ll already be au fait with Amazon FBA – letting them take care of your logistics while you take care of sales. But, as a multi-channel seller, how much do you know about Amazon multi-channel fulfilment or MCA? We’re here to explain all, including what Amazon multi-channel fulfilment is, how much it costs, how you go about sending multi-channel orders to FBA, and all the juicy pros and cons.
What is Amazon multi-channel fulfilment
Amazon MCF is a feature of FBA that allows you to fulfil orders from sales platforms outside of Amazon, using the FBA service. For example, you receive an order from eBay, which you send to Amazon to pick and ship from one of its warehouses.
If you haven’t heard of it before, that’s because it wasn’t always this way. Previously, Fulfilment by Amazon would only fulfil for Amazon. But as Amazon puts so perfectly itself:
“In today’s fast-moving environment, having the right multi-channel strategy can help you build and optimise your online sales.”
And MCF is here to help you achieve that.
What’s the difference between Amazon FBA and MCF?
Other than the difference in where the sale order originates from, the main difference between FBA and MCF is price. Otherwise, everything else from restrictions, stocking, picking, packing, shipping, handling returns and customer service, remains the same.
Using Amazon multi-channel fulfilment
How does multi-channel FBA work? Well, it goes a little something like this:
1. List product on multiple sales channel(s)
List your product on multiple sales channel(s) either manually or by using eCommerce listing software.
2. Send stock to Amazon FBA
Prepare and package your stock, according to Amazon’s guidelines (and noting their restrictions), and then send it to an Amazon warehouse.
3. Send multi-channel orders to Amazon FBA
Next, you need to send the order details to FBA by either:
– Logging into your FBA account, selecting the stock and creating a fulfilment order by entering the customer’s details – which can be quite time consuming if your business processes a lot of orders or uses several sales channel(s); or
– Log into Expandly and
4. Let Amazon do the work
Once submitted, you’ll receive an estimated delivery date from Amazon, which you can use to update your customer.
5. Handling Amazon MCF returns
When it comes to returns – the choice is yours. You can either manage them yourself or let FBA do the work for you.
The cost of Amazon multi-channel fulfilment
Of course, Amazon MCA comes with a price tag that’s a little larger than standard FBA and is broken down into three categories
1. A per-unit pick and pack fee
2. A weight handling fee (based on weight, dimensions and shipping service/destination)
3. A storage fee (per cubic foot per month)
The cost of each fee is based on whether you’re selling non-media items, media items or oversized items and whether you’re shipping in the UK or to another country in the EU.
Advantages of using Amazon multi-channel fulfilment?
So, why would an online seller like you use Amazon to fulfil orders from other sales channel(s)?
One logistics provider
As a multi-channel online seller, you’re already handling multiple platforms, different customers and numerous pieces of eCommerce software. Using Amazon FBA for all of your orders takes multiple logistics providers out of the equation – saving you a few greys and giving you a better handle on it all.
Having your inventory all in one place also has its benefits. It means that you can open up all of your stock to all of your marketplaces (using a real-time inventory management system to avoid overselling) enabling you to sell more, improve your cash flow and improve your analytics.
Amazon owns a lot of warehousing space, which means that no matter how fast your business is growing, you can rely on Amazon to have the space and staff you need. They’ve also got a little bit of expertise around handling peak sale weekends such as Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday.
Finally, when you’re using FBA, you’re accessing one of the world’s most experienced, extensive and equipped fulfilment services. They deliver to 27 EU countries, from flats and apartments to farms, office blocks, houseboats and even garages – and they do it quickly. You can offer your customers three different levels of shipping (one-day priority, two-day expedited or standard 3-5 business days shipping) without worrying about your ability to deliver in time.
Overall, Amazon MCF saves you time, while allowing you to offer customers an exemplary shipping service.
Disadvantages of using Amazon MCF?
And what about the downsides to offloading all of your orders to Amazon.
Branding becomes an issue. While Amazon does allow you to customise your packing slips, packaging is either Amazon-branded or unbranded – which isn’t ideal if your products rely on that Insta-worthy unboxing moment. There’s also Amazon’s brand reputation to consider. Delayed deliveries, missing items, fine-China thrown over the garden fence – Amazon doesn’t always have a glowing delivery reputation, and that can affect yours.
We’ve already touched on the fact that Amazon MCF costs more than standard FBA but what we haven’t mentioned is the extra fees. Heavy item, long-term storage, removal and unplanned prep and labelling fees can eat into your profits, making low-margin, slow-moving or seasonal products unsuitable for the service. It’s also worth mentioning that some alternative third-party logistic providers offer an FBA-like service at a lower cost, enabling you to increase your profits or offer customers free shipping.
Finally, certain products are excluded from Amazon MCF, and some online marketplaces (such as Walmart) do not allow orders fulfiled by Amazon – limiting your expansion.
Alternatives to Amazon MCF?
If you like the idea of outsourcing your logistics but don’t like the idea of giving Amazon control over your whole life, what are the alternatives?
The obvious alternative is to keep your logistics in-house, expanding your warehouse and increasing your staff numbers to create an FBA-worthy fulfilment solution of your own. While this comes with benefits of control, visibility and no fees, it also comes with pressures to uphold delivery standards regardless of volume, which can be very expensive in terms of staffing fees, warehouse space and courier costs.
The other alternative is to combine the best parts of Amazon FBA and seller fulfilment by using a third-party eCommerce logistics partner. 3PLs such as Synergy Retail Support have just as much expertise as Amazon and use tools such as Expandly to seamlessly integrate with all of your sales channel(s) and offer the same service Amazon, but with added value, visibility and control.
Item successfully delivered – key takeaways
Amazon multi-channel fulfilment is a great way to expand your eCommerce business to multiple sales channel(s), without worrying about your ability to maintain delivery speeds. And, it’s as easy as a “click” with Expandly’s new MCA functionality. But for those concerned about costs, standards and visibility, you can get all the benefits of Amazon FBA and Expandly when partnering with a third-party eCommerce logistics provider.
Expandly multi-channel management software doesn’t just help you to list, process orders and send them to Xero. You can also bulk print manage your inventory, bulk print shipping labels and integrate with third-party logistic providers without worrying about which sales channel(s) they can integrate with.