Is Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime Right for You?
By Ina Steiner
Millions of shoppers take advantage of Amazon's Prime free 2-day shipping program, but until fairly recently, the only way sellers could make their items "Prime eligible" had been through the Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) program. Then a program called "Seller Fulfilled" Prime came along.
Now Amazon is opening up the program to more sellers, but the program isn't suitable for everyone.
Sellers who are approved and enrolled in Seller Fulfilled Prime must provide Prime shipping benefits to Amazon Prime members and must purchase shipping for all Prime items through Buy Shipping Services. They must also agree to all shipping, returns, and customer service requirements applicable to Prime items. That can be a deal-breaker for some sellers, especially those who feel the cost of shipping to meet Prime-deadlines is too high relative to the price of the item they are selling.
The benefits, according to Amazon: "Making your products Prime-eligible can significantly increase your sales. Seller Fulfilled Prime allows you to list your products as Prime-eligible, while maintaining control of your own fulfillment operations."
Amazon spokesperson Tom Cook told us that sellers interested in using Seller Fulfilled Prime can apply on Seller Central, and he provided some additional information in response to our questions.
How many merchants are participating in Seller Fulfilled Prime?
We are seeing a great response from Sellers around the world. We have Sellers using Seller Fulfilled Prime in the 5 countries - United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan - with new Sellers signing up all the time.
Do you have any advice on what kind of merchant or what kind of items make a good fit?
We envision a day when all items sold by Sellers on Amazon are eligible for Prime using FBA or Seller Fulfilled Prime. Since launching last year, we've seen both large and small Sellers join the program.
The common characteristic of Sellers using Seller Fulfilled Prime is that they have great operations and have access to a carrier - or their own delivery operations - that will reliably deliver in two-days or less. We are seeing all types of products being added to Prime by Sellers using Seller Fulfilled Prime and are excited about the added selection that it brings to customers.
In terms of selection that works well in the program, we've seen Sellers experiment with items that are large (appliances and furniture), perishable, seasonal, fragile, customized, or simply items that they prefer to keep on premise because of the price point (certified and refurbished Rolex's) or they prefer to handle the shipping and returns themselves.
Does Amazon require merchants who use Seller Fulfilled Prime to use a guaranteed shipping service?
Fast and reliable delivery is important to Prime members. Sellers are required to purchase Shipping Services for MFN Prime through Amazon's Buy Shipping Service from a pre-selected list of approved carriers and ship methods.
All ship methods presented to Sellers enable them to successfully deliver on the Prime Promise of 2-day delivery. We continue to work with carriers in all regions to add additional options for Sellers.
Readers interested in learning more can visit this page, which includes information about a required trial period during which sellers must meet the following performance requirements on a minimum of 300 Prime trial orders:
- An On-Time Shipment Rate of at least 99% for Prime trial orders. Regardless of the shipping speed selected by the customer, Prime trial orders must be shipped on the same day the order is received, as long as the customer places the order before the seller's cutoff time.
- Use of Buy Shipping Services for at least 95% of Prime trial orders.
- A Cancellation Rate of less than 1% on Prime trial orders.
The trial period lasts between 5 and 90 days depending on when you meet the performance requirements. If you fail to fulfill the above requirements for 300 eligible Prime trial orders within 90 days, the trial period will reset automatically and you can try again.
And, Amazon explains, "24 hours after you become eligible for the Seller Fulfilled Prime program, the SKUs mapped to your Prime Template(s) will automatically display the Prime badge to customers."
A fuller version of this story first appeared in EcommerceBytes 411.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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