Amazon MCF: Pros and Cons

Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment, or MCF, allows Amazon Sellers to use Amazon as a shipping facility for any customer. This can include shipping directly to the final customer (either by entering orders manually, or connecting to eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Magento), or other resellers.

Amazon MCF can be a good choice for your brand if Amazon is already your primary sales channel. If you’re not selling on Amazon at all, or Amazon is a smaller piece of your revenue mix, there are other, more affordable options.

Even if you’re using Amazon as a primary sales channel and you have other sales channels for which you’d like to consolidate fulfillment, MCF may not be your best choice.

Let’s go over some scenarios.

Amazon MCF and Shopify: A Perfect Pair

We work with a lot of smaller and emerging brands which do healthy DTC business, most commonly with a Shopify store. They’ve come to us because they’d like to expand to Amazon, or they need help growing their Amazon sales.

One client did considerable revenue via their DTC site, but they were using manual fulfillment, shipping directly to customers one order at a time, out of space they rented. They wanted to grow their business without having to scale up their manual fulfillment operation, so they brought us in to revamp their Amazon brand presence and grow sales.

The client wasn’t familiar with Amazon MCF, and when we proposed it, they were able to set up the Amazon MCF Shopify app in less than an hour and say goodbye to the days of manually fulfilling each Shopify order.

This solution works for them because Amazon’s MCF fulfillment costs are a better value than their labor and shipping costs, and the price they charge for shipping covers the MCF fees. And, Amazon’s nationwide fulfillment network means that customers will often get their product a lot more quickly than their old method of manually fulfilling from one location. But, it won’t be right for all brands.

When Amazon MCF Isn’t The Best Choice

Amazon’s fulfillment fees are competitive with 3PL providers like ShipBob. Amazon isn’t the lowest, but they’re in the same ballpark. The primary situation where you’ll consider using Amazon MCF vs. another 3PL is when you’re already fulfilling out of Amazon via FBA. If you’re not selling on Amazon and you don’t plan to, another 3PL provider will be a better deal.

Some more situations where Amazon MCF may not be ideal:

  • You’re already selling via multiple channels and you have a 3PL provider that you like
  • Your shipping costs are lower than average
  • You ship internationally
  • There are differences between the version of your product that you sell on Amazon, and the version you sell direct

When Your Own Fulfillment Costs Beat Amazon’s

The pricing examples on the Amazon MCF site include a tablet with a fulfillment cost of $7.35, and a t-shirt with a fulfillment cost of $8.50.

If you’re fulfilling t-shirts from your DTC site yourself, there’s a good chance that you’ve priced all the options and you pay less than $8.50 to ship each shirt. Switching to MCF would require raising your prices, or absorbing some of the costs.

The Canada Problem

If you’re based in the US and your store gets orders customers in both the US and Canada, MCF won’t be able to help. That’s because with the exception of some media products, Amazon MCF works only in the US.

It Requires a Consistent OOBBE

What’s an OOBBE, you ask? Why, that’s the out of box branding experience. It’s traditionally called just the OBE, but we like to add the extra B because your product should not just provide a pleasant box-opening experience. It must to everything it can to get your brand message across and encourage loyalty and repeat sales.

Let’s say you’re that t-shirt store. When customers purchase your products through Amazon FBA, the product they get is just the a shrink-wrapped t-shirt, and that’s all. It’s not a great OOBBE, but that’s a subject for another article.

But when you fulfill orders from your DTC store, when you’re packing it for shipment, you also throw in a fancy bow, a hand-signed note, and maybe a few stickers or magnets as a special surprise. Now you’re talking about a good OOBBE!

But, the problem is this: if you’d like to switch to fulfilling your DTC orders out of Amazon inventory using Amazon MCF… 100% of your customers will get that plain vanilla out of box experience.

The correct solution in this case is to upgrade the OOBBE, by including that card and the stickers within the t-shirt packaging. But if that’s not feasible, MCF isn’t ideal.

Next Steps

You can learn lots more about Amazon MCF directly from Amazon. Or, you’re welcome to set up a quick call with us if you’d like to chat about MCF or anything else regarding your eCommerce business.

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