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The Benefits of Amazon Prime – Without Having to Use FBA

Amazon Prime

Amazon PrimeIngram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment is helping Amazon merchants who want the benefits of Prime without the requirement of using FBA. Sound too good to be true? The company announced a new service last week called “Prime Fulfillment by Ingram Micro Commerce.”

When Amazon opened Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) to sellers, it promised increased sales, since FBA products are Prime-eligible, while eliminating the headache of fulfillment, taking on the storage, packing, shipping, and customer service tasks.

But Amazon discovered that delivering all those products itself wasn’t always optimum, and it also ended up with capacity issues (its warehouses got too full).

In 2015, Amazon launched Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) to let a small number of merchants who had stellar delivery metrics take advantage of Prime without requiring them to use FBA. Merchants could fulfill orders themselves, and Amazon no longer had to deliver each Prime order itself.

Internet Retailer wrote more about the history of the program a year ago, detailing how approved merchants can specify Seller Fulfilled Prime not only by product, but by customer location. A merchant with a warehouse on the East Coast can show products as Prime-eligible to customers located nearby without having to offer Prime delivery to customers located on the West Coast, for example.

Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment’s new service doesn’t mean Amazon has chosen to work with certain fulfillment houses to expand its Prime capability. Instead, Ingram Micro Commerce is looking for merchants who wish to or already offer Seller Fulfilled Prime. Here’s an excerpt from its press release:

“Prime Fulfillment by Ingram Micro Commerce & Fulfillment enables the fulfillment of Prime orders in compliance with 1- and 2-day Prime shipping SLAs throughout the U.S. The solution allows customers to maintain a single pool of inventory for all of their sales channels and provides third party logistics and inventory management for brands participating in Seller Fulfilled Prime.”

We asked Ingram Micro Commerce how big a seller had to be to use its new service. A spokesperson said there is no size requirement, but explained the seller would have to either have been invited by Amazon to participate in Seller Fulfilled Prime, or they can apply to join. Amazon will make the decision whether or not they are allowed to join Seller Fulfilled Prime.

The Ingram Micro Commerce spokesperson said Amazon doesn’t disclose evaluation criteria, but once a seller is approved for SFP, there’s a 90-day trial period in which Amazon will require them to meet a specific set of SLAs (Service Level Agreement).

Part of the SLA is they must ship 200 eligible Prime orders during the 90 day trial period to gain the Prime badge, and the company said part of the Ingram Micro Commerce value is that merchants only have to ship 5 eligible orders during the 90-day trial period.

Another benefit described on its website: “Ingram Micro Commerce will work with you to determine best-fit packaging and support customizations, including marketing inserts and other value-added services.”

If you’re large enough to consider a fulfillment service, Amazon FBA isn’t the only game in town, but it does help boost visibility through Prime. The launch of Prime Fulfillment by Ingram Micro Commerce indicates Amazon’s Seller Fulfilled Prime program may be gaining traction and offers merchants another fulfillment option without the loss of Prime visibility.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.