For the online seller who has a presence on multiple selling channels, it can be difficult to maintain organization. Amazon offers multi-channel sellers the flexibility of fulfilling all of their orders from one central system—the Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) program. Sellers can list and sell inventory on multiple channels and fulfill orders using the product they have stocked in their fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA) inventory. In other words, sellers don't have to use FBA for just Amazon.com listings. They can also use it to fulfill orders from other sales channels like eBay or individual websites at rates that may be more affordable than what it costs to store, pick, pack and ship separately.
WHAT CHANNELS DOES AMAZON’S MULTI-CHANNEL FULFILLMENT COVER?
Sellers can use MCF and FBA on all of the major online selling sites: eBay, eBay UK, NewEgg.com, and Sears.com. They can also orders from independent websites.
MAIN CONDITIONS TO CONSIDER
To use MCF, sellers typically use simple online forms or, for bulk orders, uploaded files. A seller's fulfillment request includes buyer information, shipping instructions, and any customized instructions necessary to fulfillment. Your brand is placed on each packing slip. You can use standard Amazon boxes or brand-neutral boxes for an extra fee.
Amazon charges sellers for shipping costs which vary depending on the size and weight of the item and the shipping method. Product weight is calculated to the closest ounce; Amazon bases shipping weight fees on whichever is greater: the package's scale weight or dimensional weight in inches.
MCF offers three shipping speeds. Standard delivery includes one processing day and three to five business days for shipping. Two-day delivery is just as it sounds, as is the third option, next-day delivery, and 1:00pm ET is the cutoff for delivery times. Two-day and next-day options are picked, packed, and shipped to arrive no later than the requisite number of days after the seller submits the fulfillment request. Amazon may use a variety of services to meet these deadlines.
Any seller who uses MCF must also be registered for FBA; anyone who is registered has a credit card on file. This card will be billed for fulfillment costs unless the seller account has a positive balance; if it does, MCF fees come out of that balance.
RESTRICTIONS TO THE MULTI-CHANNEL FULFILLMENT PROGRAM
Only those who have Pro Merchant accounts with Amazon can use MCF. This means a monthly fee of $39.99. Also, FBA itself cannot ship certain things, such as hazmat items that are restricted on Amazon.com. One further limitation is that only media items can be shipped internationally; for many sellers whose businesses are mostly international this is a major issue.
MULTI-CHANNEL FULFILLMENT RETURN POLICY
Under the MCF program all returns and customer service are handled by individual sellers. Amazon offers sellers the option of electing that Amazon provide tracking numbers and instructions for how to return their products. Depending on the situation, these instructions may include returning goods to the seller or to Amazon's facility.
BENEFITS FOR SELLERS
The top benefit of the MCF service is that it is can be cheaper than fulfilling orders yourself. The shipping fees alone will typically be less expensive, and the cost of shipping materials is itself substantial. Add in the time of preparing orders for shipping and you have another significant cost. SellerEngine prepared a chart here which shows that the savings, especially once you factor in materials and time, is usually major.
Another benefit that is already basically implied here is not just the simplicity of using FBA, but the reliability of the service. While Amazon may occasionally fail to deliver on a shipping promise, it is a lot easier for the business giant to meet deadlines than the average small businessperson.
SELLER FEEDBACK ON MCF
Sellers are already using the MCF service and they have a lot to say about it. One point that is being made is the drawback of being constrained to Amazon's product restrictions even when you're not selling on Amazon. This most impacts those who sell items that might be considered hazmat, and as this article mentions, that is a large number of sellers. The restriction on international shipping to solely media items is another problem for users.
Other sellers advise that the MCF is a very useful service that saves them money and gives them peace of mind. One comment indicates that a seller has used it successfully for more than five years. Another seller points out the benefit of very quick delivery. Amazon Fresh delivers to its available markets on Sundays, and MCF sellers—including those who do not sell groceries—have benefited from shipped orders on Sundays. Additionally, others remark that using MCF and FBA often allows them to sell more by having their products available to Amazon customers via proximity in the fulfillment centers.
Overall, it seems that the multi-channel fulfillment is a good deal all around for those who sell enough to make a Pro Merchant account worthwhile. It is likely that almost all sellers who do not focus on hazmat items or sell internationally can save money using the service.