Avalara > Blog > Ecommerce > The Joy of Fulfillment: Users Weigh In On FBA and FBM

The Joy of Fulfillment: Users Weigh In On FBA and FBM

  • Aug 19, 2015 | Mark Berens

From its undeniable name recognition to its powerful Buy Box, Amazon just about sells itself as a top choice for seeking out orders. But getting your product to your customer’s front porch is a crucial step—and that’s an important choice for sellers to make.

When sellers register on Amazon, they have to make a choice among shipping options.

Option 1 is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). With FBA, you pack up your items, send them to Amazon, and they pretty much take care of the rest.

Option 2 is Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM). This option puts it all on you and the carrier (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.) of your choosing.

But there’s a third option that most first-time sellers aren’t aware of: Option 3, which is using FBA and FBM then figuring out, over time, which one makes the most sense not only in profit, but in time and hassle.

Well, we like saving time and hassle, so we went through the Amazon Seller Forum and compiled the most helpful comments, pro and con, from sellers who used both and lived to tell the tale. Have a look and judge for yourself: FBA or FBM? (Some comments edited for clarity.)

Choose Fulfillment by Amazon if:

Your product is flying off the e-shelf.

  • “It's really fairly simple—if you are selling bunches of the same inventory all the time, you'll probably save enough in time and hassle to justify the costs of FBA.”
  • “If your products are popular and have lots of buyers, FBA can make your offer stand out.”

You’re not good with bubble wrap and lose your keys a lot.

  • “The big plus for FBA is that Amazon handles customer service. They ship and I never have to worry about damaged or lost orders. Amazon covers all of that. In most cases Amazon even covers the loss for returns and doesn't pass it on to me.”
  • “I never even hear when a customer says they did not receive an item—Amazon reimburses the customer since it was a shipping problem.”

You like your free time.

  • “Nice thing about FBA is that you don't have to babysit your account. Most daily issues are taken care of.”
  • “I like FBA because of the freedom it gives me. It allows me to take time off any time I want because I don't have to ship to customers every single day—that's Amazon's job.”

Choose Fulfillment by Merchant if:

You cater to a quirky crowd.

  • If you sell mostly unique items, have rapidly changing inventory, or have listings that may take a long time (if ever) to sell, then you'll be better off doing it yourself.”
  • “The items I sell are fairly unique/uncommon books/CDs/DVDs and for me at this point it just makes more sense to only do FBM.”

You’re good with bubble wrap.

  • “On FBA . . . damaged product returns getting resold as new is an issue for most sellers. If you sell fragile items it may not be prudent to send them to FBA.”

You’re a bit of a control freak.

  • “Returns hurt your business as it is. I'd like to have full control of my business as much as I can and deal with situation myself.”

The Final Word:

Fulfillment by Amazon means you sell more widgets; Fulfillment by Merchant means you keep more cash.

  • “After three years selling mostly FBA but some FBM, I've come to the conclusion that they are both about the same financially. With FBM you get slightly more per item, but with FBA you sell more items."
  • “I have found that I make more money on the FBM listing at a buck lower but I have many more sales charging a few bucks more on FBA.”

Depending on your product, price point, and patience, you, like the people here, will eventually decide which option is best for your business. But regardless of which one you choose, there’s no dispute over the importance of doing your shipping correctly—it’s the point where you, as a seller, literally have to deliver on your promise.

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Avalara Author
Mark Berens
Avalara Author Mark Berens