As a result of increased demand brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, Amazon recently suspended shipments of all non-essentials to their FBA warehouses. The many sellers who rely on FBA to fulfill their Amazon orders, need to find a new way to fulfill their orders. As a result, self-fulfillment is on the rise. Payability created a series of articles on self-fulfillment shipping solutions. Part One covers shipping platforms and Part Two (below) covers fulfillment companies.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has turned ecommerce on its head, affecting e-retailers and online sellers like you. For example, Amazon has prioritized essential items, which means everything else could take up to a month to be delivered — even for paying Prime members (see next section for latest list of prioritized items). Not only that, Amazon isn’t currently allowing sellers to ship discretionary items to their warehouses. The resulting impact on your business is two-fold:
- Self-Fulfillment Required: Amazon’s seller shipping restrictions mean that, if you sell non-essential items, you’ll now have to store and fulfill them on your own.
- Drops in Sales: These month-long delivery times on discretionary items could cause your customers to abandon their carts or look elsewhere to get what they need in less time.
To ease the burden of self-fulfillment, make sales, and continue offering your customers fast, free shipping, you might want to consider a third-party fulfillment company instead of FBA. We put together the following guide on six fulfillment companies that can take over your picking, packing, shipping and logistics needs.
But first, here’s the latest from Amazon on their shipping and fulfillment restrictions.
Amazon’s Restriction Update
As of Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Amazon is still prioritizing items in the following categories: medical supplies, health and household, baby products, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.
Now onto the six fulfillment platforms that can help you deliver your customers’ orders in a timely fashion that saves you money…
With a mission to enable any seller, regardless of size, to delight their customers with fast and cost-effective fulfillment, Deliverr offers Amazon-like benefits for leading sellers and their customers. That means fast, predictable and affordable fulfillment.
Onboarding is easy. Sign up with just a few clicks by connecting your listing tool and/or shopping cart, and see cost previews for each item you sell. Then send your inventory to one of Deliverr’s warehouses — they’ll offer step-by-step support and even extend their discounted shipping rates. You can start selling within 5-10 days of signing up.
Other details include:
- Price: Deliverr offers “Amazon-like” pricing. All fulfillment-related costs (like shipping, pick, pack, box, etc.) are condensed into two fees: Fulfillment and Storage. Calculate your costs with Deliverr’s calculator.
- No contracts: Outsource to Deliverr as you need to without worrying about long-term commitments.
- Fast deliveries: If eligible, you could offer Premium Shipping with Deliverr’s 1-day and 2-day rates. Prime badges are also available for your listings.
- Flexible Warehouse Expansion: As demand grows, Deliverr is able to easily onboard new warehouses, which means they can make room for YOUR inventory.
- Transparent pricing: See exactly how much you’ll have to pay to fulfill each order. There are no hidden fees.
- Who It’s Best For: Sellers on Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Shopify, and/or Wish.
2. Red Stag Fulfillment
Red Stag Fulfillment (RSF) is a cloud-based order fulfillment company for B2C and B2B online retailers. With a large network of fulfillment centers and warehouses across the United States, RSF can help reduce your shipping costs and speed delivery times. In fact, you can get Prime designations for your listings because, with RSF’s fast and reliable packing and shipping services, you’ll be able to meet the requirements for Seller Fulfilled Prime.
RSF also guarantees 100% order accuracy, inventory accuracy, and on-time order processing. If they don’t meet them, they’ll fix their mistake AND pay you $50 for the error.
Other details include:
- 30-day free trial
- Pricing is tailored to your specific needs, so you’ll need to speak with them directly for a quote. But there are no added or hidden fees like sku management, account management, setup, and more. Not only that, your pricing will remain consistent month over month, so you’ll never have billing surprises.
- Fast Fulfillment Service Guarantees: Same day shipping until 5 p.m. With warehouses in strategic locations that cover 97% of U.S. addresses, orders can ship in two days or less.
- Web-based Inventory and Order Monitoring: Improve your inventory management by reducing the amount of cash you have tied up in stock while also increasing your inventory turn rate. What’s more, RSF does not have an inventory shrinkage allowance and actually helps its clients see a massive reduction in monthly inventory loss or damage (93.6% – 100% to be exact).
- Quality Control: RSF takes videos and pictures of every product you send to them, so there’s never a question about an item’s condition.
- Returns Processing: Simple, automated returns that are processed in 48-hours so customers get their refunds quickly.
- Optimized Packaging: RSF will help you maximize the item consolidation per package, so you send less packages per order and ultimately save in shipping charges. And to reduce damage to your packaging, RSF recommends the right kind of tape and boxes.
- Seasonal Support & Continuity of Operations: Warehouses are built to handle seasonal surges so you don’t have to worry about seasonality disruptions. Not only that, they have layers of contingency plans — like their backup warehouse generators in case of power outages and multiple ISPs to keep client dashboards running — so you can rest assured that all of your orders can be fulfilled.
- Guaranteed Access to Your Stock: RSF never moves your inventory from one warehouse to another so you always know exactly where it is stored — and you’ll never have sales tax nexus surprises.
- Who It’s Best For: B2C and B2B online retailers looking for an alternative to FBA. They’re a wise choice if you require special handling and/or sell high-value goods.
ShipMonk is a top-rated fulfillment company for eCommerce businesses. Their 4-in-1 cloud-based software manages your inventory, orders, shipping, and warehousing. According to their website, ShipMonk does more than deliver packages — they are “unboxing stress-free logistics for business owners everywhere.” Their logistics services include shipping, warehousing, eCommerce fulfillment, kitting, and more.
Other details include:
- ShipMonk has an online calculator where you can get a quote for your specific needs. There are no storage penalties or long-term storage fees.
- Bi-Coastal Warehouses: With warehouses strategically located on both coasts, ShipMonk can get orders fulfilled quickly and affordably. You can split your inventory across their locations and they’ll help you determine where to allocate your inventory so you get the quickest turnaround and the best price.
- Shipping Discounts: Get the best shipping price from major carriers.
- Customer Support: ShipMonk’s “Happiness Engineers” work out of their warehouses so they can immediately take care of any order/logistics issues.
- Seller Fulfilled Prime: Maximize your profit margins by offering Prime benefits as a FBM seller.
- Amazon FBA Prep Services: ShipMonk prepares inventory for FBA and guarantees that FBA requirements are met 100% of the time. This includes pick and pack, cross-docking, quality control, repackaging, labeling, fragile item preparation, loose products, sold as a set, boxed units, poly bagged units, case-packed products, expiration dates, adult products preparations, photo documentation, and more.
- Who It’s Best For: Amazon sellers looking to get all the benefits of FBA with the flexibility of FBM.
Flowspace allows sellers to store, manage and fulfill inventory from over 1,000 warehouses and fulfillment centers. Their cloud-based fulfillment platform serves as a one-stop solution to your fulfillment and warehousing needs. Just send your products to their fulfillment centers (they’ll help make sure you store your product(s) closest to your customers), receive an order (they integrate with Amazon, Shopify or your online store), then they pick, pack and ship that order.
Other details include:
- Price: Contact Flowspace directly for a custom quote.
- Quick Onboarding: No matter how much inventory you have, you can get up and running in one of their warehouses within 48 hours.
- Seamless Order Management: Easily track shipments to and from your warehouses.
- Quality Control: Flowspace ensures there are no missing items, imperfect orders, or damaged goods.
- Fast Shipping: As fast as 2-day shipping.
- Who It’s Best For: Sellers who have an online and offline presence. Flowspace will run fulfillment so you get items to your retail stores or directly to your customers.
When you use ShipBob, you connect your store and import your products, send inventory in any combination to their fulfillment centers, then let them pick, pack and ship your orders. They’ll help you pick the right warehouse locations for your inventory to optimize delivery and spend. They offer affordable 2-day shipping options as well as robust order management and logistics tools, as outlined below:
- Pricing is customized for your specific needs. Standard fees include: a one-time implementation fee for 30 days of onboarding support, inventory receiving, warehousing, and shipping.
- Reach: They’ll ship anywhere in the world where UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS will deliver.
- Logistics “Back-Office”: With web-based software, ShipBob lets you manage and edit orders, track inventory levels in real time (across all the fulfillment centers you use), get reorder notifications/reminders, and more.
- Integration Options: You can integrate all your tools to better manage the back-end of your business and automate fulfillment. Choose from their pre-built integrations or build your own using their REST API. If you sell on multiple marketplaces, you can integrate all your stores into one centralized dashboard. ShipBob works with Amazon, Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Walmart, WooCommerce, and more, so all orders get synced and data/updates are sent back and forth for a two-way flow of information.
- Distributed Inventory: Split inventory across ShipBob’s locations to optimize shipping times and cost (for example, by offering two-day shipping). After an order is placed, ShipBob uses its tech algorithm to determine which warehouse and carrier will get the best price and provide the fastest delivery.
- 2-Day Express Shipping Program: With this program, ShipBob picks the closest warehouse to your customer and uses ground shipping to meet the two-day requirement at the cheapest cost. According to their website, “When a customer enters their shipping destination, ShipBob dynamically verifies the delivery zip code and the inventory on-hand at the nearest fulfillment center to display the guaranteed “2-Day Express” option.”
- Inventory Management: ShipBob helps you optimize inventory management so you can turn inventory quickly and NOT keep your cash tied up in stock that’s not selling. Set reorder reminders and low stock alerts, identify slow-moving inventory, make inventory transfer requests, and more.
- Reporting and Analytics: Get real-time recommendations on how to manage your inventory and improve fulfillment so you can cut costs and increase profit margins.
- Who It’s Best For: Small businesses, startups and crowdfunders as well as sellers whose businesses run across multiple marketplaces.
6. ShipMate Fulfillment
ShipMate Fulfillment is a family-run business with 30 years of fulfillment and warehousing experience as well as expertise in kitting and bundling. Their cloud-based order management system automates pick, pack and ship fulfillment for all of your orders and eCommerce channels. They ship with every major carrier and pass on their volume-discounted rates with FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
Other details include:
- First 30 days of storage are free
- There are no contracts or limits, and no hidden fees (no setup fees, no extra packaging fees, no extra pick/pack fees on standard shipments, no hidden pricing)
- Freight: ShipMate Fulfillment provides both inbound and outbound LTL and FTL Freight Services.
- Cross-Channel eCommerce fulfillment: ShipMate Fulfillment integrates with many ecommerce marketplaces and platforms, including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Etsy, Shopify and ShopifyPlus, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, and more.
- Kitting and Bundling Features: They use state-of-the-art equipment to rapidly kit, shrink wrap, and label, and provide optimized packaging design to keep items safe and shipping costs low.
- FBA prep and fulfillment: ShipMate Fulfillment adheres to Amazon’s strict FBA guidelines so you can continue offering Prime benefits.
- Inventory Management + Forecasting: Follow and track your inventory so you know when and how much to reorder (and thus avoid stocking out).
- 300,000 square foot storage facility: Located in downtown Philadelphia, their storage facility is strategically positioned in the prime East Coast/mid-Atlantic Region.
- Who It’s Best For: Amazon sellers looking to get all the benefits of FBA with the flexibility of FBM, and who typically sell kits or product bundles.
If you’re still not sure which fulfillment company is right for you, FulfillmentCompanies.net can help match you to the right one based on your business, fulfillment needs, and budget. Just fill out a short form and compare matches. FulfillmentCompanies.net has prescreened over 600 fulfillment companies so you can be confident that their recommended matches will work for your business.
To help you invest in a new fulfillment solution without disrupting your existing cash flow, you might need one of Payability’s flexible financing options. With daily payments, capital advances, and real-time on-the-go access to your payouts, our solutions are designed specifically with your needs in mind. Approval is based on account health and sales performance, so there are never any credit checks and you can get approved in as a little as 24 hours.