Amazon sellers are trying to recover from the impact caused by the restrictions on non-essential items that the tech giant imposed back in March of this year. Businesses of all sizes were affected, but especially young brands, which are still finding ways to cope with this difficult situation. Luckily, there’s a world outside Amazon, and there are faster shipping alternatives and other services available for shoppers and sellers alike.
Although Amazon recently announced that the one- and two-day delivery times that shoppers were accustomed to would gradually return to normal, the reality is that this won’t happen overnight.
Therefore, we took on the task of outlining a few shipping alternatives so you can take advantage.
Here’s a list of companies that can help you with this service:
Use a 3PL service
Third party logistics, commonly known as 3PL, has to do with sending stock to a third party for them to store in their facility, so they can later fulfill orders on your behalf. Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, is the 3PL service provided by Amazon. But the fact that the FBA program has been on hold for many sellers, doesn’t mean that you cannot look for other choices.
When picking a 3PL provider, make sure that they have a warehouse in the country you sell.
The downside is that you won’t be in full control of the fulfilment process, which can come with some complications. Unlike with FBA, where Amazon makes sure that your package gets picked, packed, and shipped on time while handling any issues related to customer service.
On the brighter side, the advantages of using a 3PL is that you can get great shipping deals and that, during times like these, you don’t become dependent on Amazon’s way of doing things and you can more easily manage returns via a 3PL, too.
It is important for sellers to consider the type of products and goods they sell, along with the shipping method that makes better sense for their business.
So, weight out all the implications that this entails, before choosing a third-party alternative.
This company is a hybrid cloud multi-carrier shipping solution for every type of business.
It’s basically a software with a user-friendly platform that sellers can use to import and ship. Some features it includes are: ReadyShipperX, shipping one-by-one or in batch, Shipping Genie to detect any issues, custom filters for SKU, etc. Sellers also save instantly on USPS Priority Mail and Express Mail on all packages up to 20 pounds. It automatically imports new orders and updates shipments.
They assure shipping from anywhere to everywhere and guarantee to have the fastest delivery times out there. Their software is so comprehensive that allows you to easily pick the best solution to get your products delivered in a timely manner.
Select your carrier, compare rates and delivery times from a single place.
This solution works best for smaller businesses since ShipBop’s average order volume is at just over 1,500 per year. It only has a minimum of 100 orders per month, which is a number pretty easy to reach. Currently, they run seven U.S.-based fulfillment centers.
Sellers can use this platform for free to manage orders, inventory, and customer communication.
They offer affordable same-day delivery for orders placed in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. In other cities, they offer standard fulfillment. It also offers crowdfunding fulfillment, which is a good way to ship large orders at a low cost.
If you need a provider to help you with higher order volumes, a2b could be the answer. Their clients’ average annual order volume is 125,000. Make your thousands of orders per month easy to fulfill along with other helpful services, like order management and customer service.
They offer deliveries throughout the US within 2 days via ground shipping and they also provide drop-shipping programs.
This is another multi-channel solution. They work not only with Amazon, but also with Walmart, eBay, Shopify and Wish, although they are known for their ability in handling Walmart orders. You can test out a few SKUs to see if this company would fit your needs.
You can have access to programs like Walmart 2-day delivery, Amazon Seller-Fulfilled Prime, eBay Fast ´N Free and Wish express.
If you’re still trying 3PL service, this solution might be ideal. The company offers logistics and fulfillment services that don’t have any setup costs. It’s not necessary to establish a long-term commitment with their service, since it doesn’t have long-term storage fees or long-term contracts.
They offer 2- or 3-day delivery service for all kinds of packages as well as an overnight option.
This is a solution solely specialized in shipping heavy, large, fragile items and products that need light assembly before shipment. Think furniture and big electronics. So, if you work with products that might be expensive or risky to send using the other providers, you may want to check them out.
They guarantee a 48-hour dock-to-stock time and 100% order accuracy.
Use Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)
Fulfillment by Merchant, also known as FBM, allows sellers to take over the fulfilling and shipping process of their Amazon orders.
This option can be limited, because it implies that sellers have access to their own appropriate warehouse or storage facility, which can work for some businesses. But for others, it is a big financial burden. Plus, sellers will have to implement systems to be able to pick, pack, and ship orders.
The perks of FBM are that sellers can keep full control of the fulfilling process and the profit margins can be better, since there’s no need to pay for FBA fees. Sellers are still protected from Amazon policy changes due to the pandemic.
And while keeping control of the entire process can mean a guarantee for a better customer experience, if the process is not seamlessly planned, issues may arise. Merchant will still need to train a team of pickers and packers, which can mean more cash invested upfront, so there’s more at risk if the business fails.
Use Seller Fulfilled Prime
This is just another version of FBM in which the seller has to comply with a set of specific standards to be able to get the Prime badge on their Amazon listings. It’s important to point out that the quality standards for this option are extremely high.
Besides having the same advantages as FBM, holding the Prime badge is proven to increase sales, since it grants you access to Amazon’s Prime audience. The most difficult part of this solution is adhering to the fulfillment standards in your own facility.
You can always turn to a 3PL provider that guarantees they can keep up with these standards to assure a Prime badge.
The Order Fulfilling and Warehouse Sector
The number of alternatives continues to rise as Amazon and other ecommerce platforms still struggle to provide solutions that affect customers as little as possible, while restrictions continue to change. The warehouse and storage industry in the US have a current estimated value of $22 billion and employs 600,000 people.
The fulfillment business adds up to $9 billion. Consider there are over 10,000 companies providing these services only in the U.S.
Amazon’s FBA continues to be in place as a logistics solution for merchants that work with different selling channels. The extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic and the ongoing changes in restrictions and essential and non-essential products are a concern for sellers.
FBA still represents a solution in the sense that it still offers multilingual international support, free shipping for FBA items and an improved customer experience backed up by Amazon’s expertise. But not everything is back to normal yet, and in a competitive market, it is only logical to look at what else is available to make sure your business is not affected as much by COVID-19 restrictions.
Besides the list of alternatives we provide in this article, there are other solutions out there that might fit your business needs better.
AMZ Advisers is a full-service eCommerce consultancy focused on creating growth opportunities for brands, manufacturers, and private labels across the US, Europe, Canada, and Asia.
The AMZ Advisers team has been able to achieve incredible growth on the Amazon platform for their clients by optimizing and managing their accounts and creating in-depth content marketing strategies.