If you’re one of the 1.5 million active Amazon sellers today, you may have been taking part in fulfilling FBA at one point. This provides convenient service, shipping speed, and a competitive advantage versus other sellers.
Suppose you also sell on different channels aside from Amazon; you may have been using the Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) service. Before you jump into any of these services, let’s discuss how Amazon MCF compares to FBA.
Amazon FBA is when you receive a sales order from Amazon Marketplace and have the product delivered using the platform’s service. Meanwhile, Amazon MCF allows you to receive sales orders from different channels (marketplaces and web stores), but the product is delivered using Amazon’s service.
The Difference between Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) vs. Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF)
As previously mentioned, the main difference between Amazon MCF vs. FBA is that the FBA service focuses on sales made through the Amazon site. At the same time, MCF caters to sales made through a seller’s various channels. (Read: All About Amazon’s MCF). Refer to the table below for a quick rundown comparing the two:
Seller’s personal website or other marketplace sites
Next-day, 2-day, and standard (which takes up to 3 to 5 business days)
Next-day shipping and 2-day shipping
FBA fees for Amazon Prime orders and separate MCF fees for placed orders outside of Amazon
Amazon FBA fees (Flat fee, 15% referral fee, storage fees, shipping and handling)
Amazon MCF vs. FBA Coverage
Thanks to global fulfillment centers in Asia, Europe, and North America, the FBA service is available worldwide.
For international orders, it’s crucial to import and sell the products in the correct marketplace. Amazon’s European marketplace is the only exception, as FBA fulfills demands across different EU marketplaces. Meanwhile, MCF is available in the following: United States, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, Japan, and Germany. Note that toys, games, and subscriptions are considered restricted product categories from the MCF.
Amazon MCF vs. FBA Shipping Speed
FBA is known to accommodate swift, fast deliveries. All prime orders have free two-day delivery, but one-day or even same-day deliveries quickly become the standard.
If you’re an FBA seller, the good news is that you won’t need to pay additional fees for either service (as long as ASINs meet specific criteria or the demand isn’t so high). If the market for your product spikes around a particular season, Amazon may move the inventory into other fulfillment centers that can accommodate fast shipping. MCF supports the following shipping options:
The catch is that you will need to pay per-package rates depending on the shipping speed and the size and weight of the package.
Amazon MCF vs. FBA Associated Fees
Fortunately, FBA allows sellers to circumvent the fees for shipping (as well as handling and packaging-related costs) of your products and instead pay a flat fee per unit. This will be ultimately based on the weight and size of the item.
Besides the fulfillment fees, you will need to pay monthly storage fees, standard referral fees, and the costs associated with sending products to the nearest Amazon warehouse. If you fail to properly prepare all your products for FBA, you may need to handle the charges involved with unplanned services. Here are other fees you will need to keep an eye out on:
Meanwhile, MCF fees involve storage and fulfillment. This is usually more expensive than standard FBA fees, which also take into account the size and weight of the item and your desired shipping speed.
Other than that, there are also subscription fees involved in a Seller Central Account even if you do not sell on the Amazon website. FBA sellers won't have to cover referral fees if they do not sell on Amazon, only the long-term storage and removal order fees. Additional (optional) fees: a 5% surcharge for orders that block Amazon Logistics and returns processing fees.
Amazon MCF vs. FBA Branding
We know that majority of the FBA orders come with the Amazon Prime branding, which means your customers will receive the signature black-and-blue taped boxes or plastic bags with the unique Amazon Prime logo.
Meanwhile, orders from MCF may be delivered in blank boxes, as third-party marketplaces such as eBay and Walmart Marketplaces tend to prohibit using Amazon Logistics and Amazon-branded boxes. Opting for an MCF blank box order fulfillment will require you to pay a 5% to block Amazon Logistic. Note that the blank box packaging is only available at specific Amazon warehouses, so you need to take into account a bit of downtime to let Amazon transfer the package to the correct location.
Amazon MCF vs. FBA Returns/Post-purchase Logistics
The FBA service handles most post-purchase logistics, such as refunds, customer inquiries, and package returns. Sellers are not charged a returns processing fee unless it belongs to a high return rate category such as Apparel and Shoes. If customers request a return, they will be sent a shipping label and a time frame of 45 days for the product to be returned. Amazon will then debit your select account for a part (or all) of the product's refund value.
Once the package reaches an FBA fulfillment center, employees will decide whether or not the product is still in sellable condition. Suppose Amazon's logistics is found responsible for any damages, then sellers will be reimbursed accordingly. If the returned item is customer-damaged or defective, you can submit a removal order within 30 days. Sometimes, a new item from your inventory will be shipped without additional charges to your customer. But, Amazon may charge a restocking fee– which can be credited to your seller account.
Meanwhile, MCF sellers may opt to receive returned items at their preferred warehouse or an FBA warehouse. If you send it back to FBA, Amazon can help you repackage the item so it can be relisted for sale. But if your goods have a short shelf life or are in an unsellable condition, it would be best to have them shipped directly to you to avoid inventory removal charges.
To submit a return to Amazon request, you must submit a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) form, which can be found on Seller Central. Either you (or the customer) will need to shoulder the shipping fees. And since the payment was made outside of Amazon, you will need to refund the customers personally.
Important Note: Amazon doesn't offer customer service for MCF packages, including replacement requests or product inquiries.
Amazon MCF vs. FBA Seller Badges and Privileges
The good thing about Amazon FBA is that sellers are awarded the prestigious Prime badge, which makes them stand out on the site’s competitive category pages. FBA sellers can also take advantage of Amazon’s guaranteed fast and reliable shipping.
Non-FBA sellers may need to pay (or charge their customers extra) for expedited, premium shipping. Whereas FBA sellers can have it for free. This makes FBA appealing to both sellers and customers. (Read: What You Need to Know About Fulfillment By Amazon)
In contrast, MCF allows for better brand visibility on multiple outside channels and platforms. If you can streamline your fulfillment, you may be eligible to earn fast shipping badges on eBay or Walmart marketplace. This results in compounding benefits, allowing a seller to grow on Amazon and across multiple channels simultaneously.
Verdict: Amazon MCF vs. FBA (Identical but Different)
Ultimately, MCF can be considered an extension of the main Amazon FBA, but both have distinct features in varying shipping speeds, levels of support, and cost/fee structures.
To become a successful online seller, it would be best to understand the pros and cons of the two before diving into any of these services. Regardless, MCF allows you to quickly expand and make a name for yourself outside the Amazon marketplace.