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What are the alternatives for Amazon FBA?

In times of crisis like COVID-19 when amazon has limited its availability for the essential commodities like household staples, medicinal supplies, and high demand supplies into fulfillment centers. 

Therefore, in times like these, the FBA sellers need to adapt some quick techniques to save their boat from sinking. 

The following categories are exempt from breaking:

  • Health

  • Household (including pet supplies)

  • Baby care products

  • Groceries, and

  • Industrial and scientific

The change was to be held valid till April 5, 2020, as stated by Amazon, but there has been no further notice since. And, therefore it is assumed that the company does not plan on removing the restrictions soon. 

Amidst the lockdown, the company had released a statement stating that: “Given that the impact of COVID-19 is still developing, we do not have an exact date when operations will be fully restored. Instead, whenever possible we will allow more products to be received, while still ensuring our fulfillment centers are able to process high-priority products.”

Any change in the core business operation can affect the foundation of the business. 

In what ways are the orders fulfilled by amazon

Once you set up your business on Amazon, it automatically converts itself into Fulfillment by Amazon at no cost. FBA is not a requirement to be an amazon seller,  it is just a  better option. The process of FBA is quite straightforward all you have to do is:

  • Send your inventory to the Amazon fulfillment center. 
  • Then, Amazon ships orders and take care of returns, refunds, and customer service. 

  • The FBA inventory seller can be viewed from the Amazon Seller Central dashboard. 

Being associated with Amazon FBA, helps the seller to be active on prime, and readily be offered on the spot detail page. However, using FBA can affect the product margin, more than the seller expects as you don’t get to choose what products go for under prime. Which makes it essential for you to measure the cost of free shipping that will go out of your pocket due to prime delivery. 

Amazon fulfillment issues

Even after the continuous growth of amazon central, there are several challenges present for the third party which is listed hereunder:

  • Uncertainty and unreliability during the global conflict

Managing the e-store is different than managing your own brick and mortar store. There is a lack of control which is particularly felt in the times of global conflicts. During such times, amazon changes its policies, and there becomes a possibility that your product might not be visible to your customers, and there will be no effect of having great product data. 

  • Inventory delays and lost products

Even if you are using a fulfillment service, you will still require insights into your products, as sometimes you might get delayed in logging into the Amazon FBA system which can, therefore, lead to shipment delays and, finally impacting the seller ratings.

Due to the massive supply chain in Amazon, there is a possibility that your product can get lost and you would be required to file a claim to get reimbursed. And, the reimbursement is not always equal to what went out of your pocket, it is based on the amazon valuation. 

Therefore, information regarding shipping is essential to make sure that the shipping is done. Also, it is necessary to understand that while in the dropshipping business, you have even less visibility to the fulfillment process of your products.

  • No branding or customization

The biggest regret of getting under amazon FBA is that the seller has no right to brand customization. In this era, where branding and unboxing play an important role, sellers listed on FBA are devoid of optimizing their product according to the customers. And, in addition to this, if there is any gift packaging demand by customers, the sellers are left with little control over packaging. 

But, in case you enroll for a multi-channel fulfillment option, your order and your boxes from your eCommerce store will be sent through amazon. And, this will lead to confusion among your customers who will have to interact with you on various channels. 

Fulfillment Alternatives

A lot of bad news, eh? But we suggest not to upset yourselves because the good news is on your way. Yes, Amazon FBA is not the only option available with you, there are three alternatives listed underneath, which can be used by you. 

  1. In house fulfillment

In times of crisis like these, it is better if you stock up your inventory in-house. 

This implies that you will have to stock up your own inventory, maintain a record, and perform the shipment by yourself. The business of every size chooses in-house fulfillment for themselves, be it a small one or a large one. And in case you sell digital products, managing them by yourself is suggested.

Steps to self-fulfillment;

  • Process the order,

  • Select packaging materials,

  • Prepare your shipment,

  • Document a tracking number for your package,

  • Be ready to process returns.

  1. Third-party fulfillment

It is one of the most popular methods opted by merchants. And no, it is not exactly similar to Fulfillment by Amazon. FBA is a store-specific fulfillment option, meaning the fulfillment process is solely intended for sales on that platform.

Third-party fulfillment is often referred to as 3PL, which is done by using various software. This method is quite helpful if your business is scaling quite well, your current costs are on the rise and you are spending too much time on inventory management. 

  1. Brick and mortar fulfillment

Some sellers still use traditional brick and mortar systems for the fulfillment of their orders, and it is also considered as one of the reliable methods.

While many brick-and-mortar locations are currently closed, it doesn’t mean your inventory has to sit. Pull inventory from retail locations to provide faster delivery and reduce added inventory expenses.

Conclusion

If your business is being impacted by the sudden changes made by Fulfillment by Amazon, don’t fret — there are plenty of options.

Take this time to reevaluate your fulfillment process. Where can you add efficiencies?
Whether you choose in-house, 3PL, or brick-and-mortar fulfillment, you can streamline your order management process.

Disclaimer:
In the times of crisis around the world, the online sale becomes restricted only for the essential commodities. To know the other options of selling, keep reading further.

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