Amazon recently announced changes to its operations in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. These changes — which include suspending deliveries of non-essential items to their FBA warehouses — are most likely impacting your business, especially when it comes to shipping and order fulfillment. While Amazon’s announcement says this suspension is in effect through April 5, 2020, restrictions are still ongoing and, according to Amazon, they “do not have an exact date when operations will be fully restored.” To help you navigate through these restrictions so your business experiences minimum disruption, we’ve put together a two-part guide on shipping and fulfillment. Part One (below) covers shipping platforms and Part Two covers fulfillment companies.
The impact that the Coronavirus pandemic has had on e-commerce is hard to ignore, especially if you sell on Amazon. On one hand, shipments to FBA warehouses are limited to essential items only. On the other, consumers are buying online now more than ever. So demand is high, but Amazon’s restrictions are causing drops in supply. If you depend on FBA to store and fulfill your inventory, you might need to try FBM, at least for the time being.
To make your transition as seamless as possible, we’ve put together a comparison of eight shipping platforms you can use to efficiently print labels, get the best carrier price, and more. But first, here’s the latest from Amazon on their shipping restrictions.
Amazon’s Restriction Update
As of Monday, April 6, 2020, Amazon is no longer accepting shipments to their warehouses that include discretionary items. Shipments that ARE being accepted fall into the following categories: medical supplies, health and household, baby products, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.
Now on to the eight shipping platforms that can help you efficiently self-fulfill your Amazon orders…
Shippo is more than just a shipping partner. They streamline the entire fulfillment process no matter what e-commerce platform you use or how many products you sell. When a customer makes an order, that order automatically syncs with Shippo so you can seamlessly handle fulfillment and print the shipping label (plus any necessary documentation, like customs forms, for example). When the order is fulfilled, that information is updated on Shippo as well as the platform where the order originated. The great thing about Shippo is that they allow you to track ALL of your shipments, even those that were not created on Shippo.
Other details include:
- Pay-As-You-Go: 5-cents per shipment plus postage
- Professional: Ranges from $10/month for up to 60 labels to $125/month for up to 5,000 labels
- Premier: If you generate more than 5,000 labels a month, contact Shippo for pricing
- Channel Syncing: Seamlessly connect your entire ecommerce business by syncing all channels you sell on, including Square, Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, Magento 2, ePages, Magento, Weebly, Squarespace, GoDaddy, Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. In addition to syncing, you can also do a CSV upload or API integration to access order details and prevent manual entry errors.
- Smart Labels: Shippo pre-fills a lot of information for you, like insurance amount, package weight, delivery documentation, and more. If any of the pre-filled information is incorrect, you can easily make in-line edits without leaving the workflow so fulfillment remains seamless.
- Order Batching: Fulfill orders faster by creating batch labels.
- Rate Comparison: Create shipping labels with the lowest-possible rates from USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and more
- Branded Communications: Notify customers in real-time so they can plan for their order’s arrival. Customize these notifications with your branding for a seamless customer experience.
- Easy Returns: Easily generate scan-based return labels, so you only pay when they’re actually used.
- Global Reach: Shippo works with a network of international carriers so you can expand your reach to new audiences.
- Who It’s Best For: Multi-channel sellers looking to streamline their shipping efforts, create a cohesive customer experience, and reach global markets.
Shipware uses its audit technology and expert consulting services to help shippers optimize their fulfillment and shipping practices, get refunds from carriers, and reduce costs by 10-30%. Share your invoices and contracts with Shipware and they will audit them to ensure that you are not paying for unnecessary fees, billing errors, etc.
Other details include:
- Price: Depends on your specific needs. They offer a free 30-day trial, no obligation.
- Invoice Audit & Recovery: Shipware will use its audit technology to analyze your weekly shipping invoices to identify billing errors and recover refunds
- Contract Optimization & Negotiation: Let Shipware get you the best pricing from USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, regional parcel carriers, and/or LTL carriers.
- Spend Analysis & Logistics Assessment: As an expert in Third Party Logistics (3PL) contract negotiations, Shipware will help improve your pricing package to ensure you’re getting the best service and value. In addition, they’ll look at your overall logistics efficiency to see if there are any areas of improvement.
- Modal Optimization: Find the most desirable carrier so you can improve service times and lower shipping costs
- Who It’s Best For: Online sellers that rely on Third Party Logistics for inventory management, fulfillment, and shipping and/or that want to quickly generate bottom line savings by reducing parcel and LTL shipping costs without disrupting current operations.
Shipstation allows you to sync, manage, and ship your orders no matter where you sell or how you ship. By integrating with major carriers and ecommerce platforms, Shipstation helps sellers with order processing, label production, and customer communication.
Other details include:
- Starter: $9 per month for 1 user and 50 shipments
- Bronze: $29 per month for 1 user and 500 shipments
- Silver: $49 per month for 2 users and 1,500 shipments
- Gold: $69 per month for 3 users and 3,000 shipments
- Platinum: $99 per month for 5 users and 6,000 shipments
- Enterprise: $159 per month for 10 users and 10,000 shipments
- Channel Syncing: Shipstation connects to 100 marketplaces, carts and stores so you can easily manage fulfillment from one place.
- Rate Comparison: See prices and estimated delivery times to find the best offer for each shipment.
- Branded Communications: Send tracking notifications to customers and create tracking pages with your branding.
- Hassle-free Customer Returns: Easy returns process for you and your customers.
- Inventory Management: Get low-stock alerts when you reach a certain level of inventory so you never have to worry about actually stocking out.
- Mobile App: Manage and ship orders, check reports, communicate with customers, and more right from the Shipstation mobile app.
- Automation: Many multi-step shipping tasks are automated — like product lists, filters, presets, tags, rules, auto-routing for fulfillment, and more — so you can save time and prevent errors.
- Global/International Shipping: Includes free $100 package coverage, option for 2-day delivery to select worldwide cities, better rates, refunds and tracking, and more.
- Real-time Analytics: Get data on everything from pending orders to email performance to returns page visits to employee productivity and more, so you can make better business decisions.
- Real Human Support: Free comprehensive onboarding support from a team of shipping experts
- Who It’s Best For: High-volume online sellers who want the best on-the-go access to all their fulfillment and shipping needs, whether orders are domestic or international; need multi-user management; and have inventory across multiple warehouses.
Easyship’s mission is to “tear down the last barrier of eCommerce: shipping. We believe that any business, regardless of size, should be able to sell worldwide.”
Their cloud-based solutions are tailor-made for eCommerce, with 250+ shipping solutions, rates discounted up to 70%, and more. Just pick a courier with the best rate, arrange pickup day and time, track shipments and send branded notifications to your customers.
Easyship’s features go beyond standard fulfillment needs and are designed to improve the customer experience so you get more conversions — and more sales. For example, you can integrate their rate comparison into your POS to let customers choose their shipping option at checkout (more on this below).
- Free: $0/month for 100 shipments
- Plus: $29/month for 500 shipments
- Premier: $49/month for 2,500 shipments
- Enterprise: Custom pricing depending on your needs
- Channel Syncing: Integrate all your ecommerce channels, including Amazon, Shopify, Magento, eBay, and BigCommerce.
- Label Generation: Create a single shipment, upload an Excel file with your orders, or sync your store. Get pre-filled docs, like address labels, customs forms and commercial invoices. Their auto-fill feature will help you avoid errors and prevent delays.
- Rate Comparison: Compare shipping rates and choose from 250+ shipping solutions. Easyship will show you delivery time, tracking event frequency, insurance and number of delivery attempts
- Link Your Courier: If you have your own courier account and want to use your rates, just simply connect your account.
- Shipping Rules: Create shipping “rules” for certain types of shipments, for example “For all shipments from Amazon, use UPS” or “For all shipments containing sneakers, always add insurance.”
- Tracking: Know exactly where your shipment is at all points of its delivery journey.
- Easy Returns: One-click return labels that Easyship can email directly to your customers (or you can send yourself if you prefer).
- Real-Time Shipping Rates Plugin: Let your customers have a choice with this plugin, which recommends the cheapest, faster, and best value options at checkout.
- Duties & Taxes: For international orders, Easyship will handle the duty and tax charges so you know upfront how much to pay.
- Who It’s Best For: If you are global — or plan on going global — Easyship might be a good fit for you. They’ve focused a lot of their features and offerings on making worldwide shipping easier and less expensive.
ShippingEasy helps online merchants streamline shipping and save money in the process. Their solution is all about automating your shipping workflows so you spend less time on fulfillment and more time on growing your business. Such workflows include rate selection, tracking, returns, even inventory management/re-supply orders.
ShippingEasy uses its software to access orders from all your selling channels in real-time and then automatically selects the best shipping option from USPS, UPS, and FedEx. The “best” depends on specific preferences, rates, and delivery. From there, just print your labels, pack and pick slips, and other necessary forms, schedule pickup, then monitor tracking. ShippingEasy will auto-populate tracking numbers and delivery status in both your ShippingEasy dashboard as well as the store where your order originated.
Other details include:
- Free 30-day trial
- Starter: $0/month for 50 shipments
- Basic: $29/month for 500 shipments
- Plus: $49/month for 1,500 shipments
- Select: $69/month for 3,000 shipments
- Premium: $99/month for 6,000 shipments
- Save up to 46%: Commercial Plus Pricing, exclusive rate discounts and insurance savings.
- Channel Syncing: Seamless integration with all major shopping carts, platforms, and marketplaces.
- Email Marketing: Access email templates to send automated campaigns like tracking/shipment notifications and product review requests
- Your Branding: Add branding to customer communication/tracking notifications as well as packing slips.
- Inventory Management: By keeping track of your inventory levels, ShippingEasy uses its automation tools to communicate with suppliers so you can more efficiently place re-supply orders and avoid stocking out.
- Easy Returns: Choose between scan-based or prepaid return labels that will be emailed as a PDF to your customer.
- Alexa for Shipping: Say it, ship it. The ShippingEasy skill on Amazon Alexa will allow you to track orders, find out how many orders need to be fulfilled on a given day, get info on outstanding orders, etc.
- Customer Support: Need more help? ShippingEasy offers real customer support (you know, from actual humans).
- Who It’s Best For: Everyone from new sellers to businesses with large shipping volume who want more a one-stop-shop for their fulfillment, customer engagement, and inventory management needs.
ShipWorks is the longest-standing eCommerce shipping partner, having been in operation since 2000. They provide shipping software, technology, service and support for high-volume sellers that sell across multiple platforms and with a variety of carriers. According to their website, their purpose is “to enable our customers to focus on their business growth and success by providing them a worry-free shipping solution that ‘Just Works’.”
Their platform is smart — in that their technology “learns” your shipping behaviors and preferences so forms are pre-filled, shipping tasks are automated, and your overall fulfillment process is fast, efficient, and error-free. By automating several order processing tasks, you can print labels faster than cloud-based solutions.
Other details include:
- 30-day free trial
- Basic: $25/month for 600 shipments
- Advanced: $49/month for 1,200 shipments
- Elite: $99/month for 3,600 shipments
- High-Volume Pricing Plans available for monthly shipments over 3,600.
- Channel and Carrier Integrations: Nearly 100 built-in integrations so you can connect to your ecommerce channel, system and carrier of choice.
- Advanced Order Routing and Automation: Save on shipping costs by routing orders to a fulfillment center based on business rules, compare rates and services across carriers.
- Customer Support: Get unlimited phone and email support as well as access to a community forum.
- Rate Comparison: Compare rates across carriers so you always get the best price
- Manifest Management: Including end-of-day close out reports, carrier manifest, and more
- Single Scan Barcode-Drive Shipping: Make a single barcode scan to complete your most common shipping tasks, like weighing packages, applying shipping profiles, printing packing slips, and more. You can even run quality control with a single scan.
- Easy Returns: Choose between UPS Print and Mail, UPS Return Plus, USPS Prepaid Return Shipping Labels, include RMA Number/Reason Fields, and email return labels.
- Internationship Shipping: Get the right customs forms, certificate of origin, commercial invoices, shipper export declaration, and AESDirect filing.
- Customized Customer Communications: Including HTML shipment notification emails, pick lists and packing slips, and shipping label messages
- Insurance: For all carriers and all shipping services
- Data & Analytics: Order reports, expense tracking, and fulfillment insights to help you optimize your shipping processes and cost.
- Who It’s Best For: High-volume sellers who want to automate the often time-consuming tasks involved with order processing and fulfillment, and who also want to get analyses of current operations to see where improvements can be made.
2Ship prides itself on getting you the best carrier service for the best price. With 2Ship, you can compare carrier rates and select the best option — or have 2Ship select it for you automatically. You can even auto-print labels and all necessary shipping docs (customs invoice, bill of ladings, FCC, FDA, Nafta, carton labels, content labels, packing slips, distribution reports, even packing guides for large freight shipments) with 2Ship’s plug-in.
Other details include:
- 30-day free trial
- Low Volume:
- Basic: $25/month for 100 labels
- Enhanced: $50/month for 200 labels
- Ultimate: $75/month for 500 labels
- High Volume:
- Basic: $139/month for 1,000 labels
- Enhanced: $249/month for 2,000 labels
- Ultimate: $449/month for 5,000 labels
- Compare Real-Time Rates: Sort by cheapest price or fastest delivery so you never have to worry about which carrier to use for your shipments.
- One “Ultimate Ship” Screen: Access all aspects of your shipments on ONE screen.
- Order Tracking: Know exactly where your order is in real-time and use automatic email notifications to update your customers of ETA and Proof of Delivery.
- Returns management
- Analytics: Get reports on your shipping performance so you can identify areas of improvement.
- Who It’s Best For: Sellers who are really looking for the best carrier service and rates, with streamlined and mobile-friendly access to all shipping information.
8. Desktop Shipper
DesktopShipper is a cloud-based solution that helps you streamline and automate your shipping, so you can print and ship in seconds. Not only that, you can centralize orders from multiple marketplaces to seamlessly filter, create batches, and print customized packing slips. To start, just import orders from where you sell, connect your carrier and seller accounts, and compare prices to get the best, most discounted rates.
Other details include:
- Free one-on-one product demos
- Starter: $25/month for 500 shipments
- Medium: $75/month for 1,500 shipments
- Premium: $150/month for 3,000 shipments
- Enterprise: Unlimited shipments – call for pricing
- Rate Shopping: Compare rates across USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL and DHL Express.
- Order Management: Link to marketplaces and pull orders in in real-time
- Custom Profiles for Each Integration: Define unique shipping requirements, like origin and return locations, to help automate and streamline label processing.
- Custom Pack Slips: Create a branded experience for your customers.
- Batch management: Perform shipping requirements on multiple orders at once.
- Real-Time Address Validation: DesktopShipper will automatically verify addresses to avoid shipment delays or errors.
- Seller-fulfilled Prime: Display the Prime badge on your listings
- Who It’s Best For: DesktopShipper is designed for any type of business model from start-ups to enterprise businesses to fulfillment companies. Their solution works for Amazon sellers, as well as sellers on eBay, Shopify, Magento, Groupon, Woocommerce, and more. If you want to display the Prime badge on your listings, DesktopShipper offers seller-fulfilled Prime benefits.
Hopefully you’ve found a shipping solution that will help you manage label printing with ease and get the best possible carrier rates. To help you run a seamless fulfillment operation, check out our guide on fulfillment companies, coming soon.
In the meantime, and if you need a boost in cash flow to help you make the transition from FBA to FBM, be sure to check out Payability’s financing solutions. Designed specifically for marketplace sellers like you, we have a variety of options to meet your needs, from daily payments, to large advances, to real-time, on-the-go payout access.