Today we’re going to be talking (rather uncharacteristically) about FBM, Fulfillment By Merchant, and whether you should merchant fulfill some of your inventory via Amazon in Q4. Although FBA is generally a better option than merchant fulfilling, there are times during the year, especially during Q4, where merchant fulfilling might be a good option.
In this episode, we discuss the difference between FBA and FBM, why Q4 is a good time to consider merchant fulfillment, and which items are suitable to sell via FBM. We fill you in on the important things to consider and ensure before jumping into merchant fulfillment, and the specs of the best and easiest items to merchant fulfill. Tune in today for all things FBM, so you can make an informed choice about how to approach selling on Amazon this upcoming holiday season.
Listen on the podcast player below.
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Key points from Episode 111:
- The difference between selling via FBM (fulfillment by merchant) and selling via FBA (fulfilled by Amazon).
- The pros of FBA; why it’s generally the better option.
- Why December is the best time to consider merchant fulfilling.
- Items to consider selling via FBM.
- The specs of the best and easiest items to merchant fulfill.
- Important things to consider and ensure when merchant fulfilling: shipping templates, packaging, and timely delivery.
- Amazon’s 2021 waiver of the approval requirement to sell toys via merchant fulfillment in Q4.
- Amazon’s usual requirements for sellers to become approved to sell toys via FBM in Q4.
- And more!
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
- The Quick and Easy Merchant Fulfilling course
- Use code FT20 to save 20% off the above course
- Amazon’s Holiday Selling Guidelines for selling toys in Q4 via merchant fulfilled
- Join the Full-Time FBA newsletter
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Episode 111 Transcript:
[0:00:01.8] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Full-Time FBA Show. In each episode, it’s our goal to help you turn part-time hours into a full-time income, selling almost anything on Amazon. Now, your hosts of the show, Stephen and Rebecca Smotherman.
[0:00:20.9] STEPHEN: Welcome to episode 111 of The Full-Time FBA Show. Today on the show we’re going to be discussing, should you merchant fulfill in Q4? With me to discuss this is Rebecca, Rebecca are you going to merchant fulfill in Q4?
[0:00:36.3] REBECCA: I don’t know, that’s a good question, we’ll kind of get into that a little bit more in the episode. I’m not sure yet.
[0:00:41.0] STEPHEN: Yeah, well, we are Full-Time FBAs so why are we talking about merchant fulfilling, well, you’ll find out in this episode of The Full-Time FBA Show.
[0:00:52.4] REBECCA: You kind of threw me for a loop there, kind of caught me off-guard asking me that question, haven’t found anything yet that I would want to merchant fulfill at this point but there are some really good reasons to consider merchant fulfilling if you find the right time that you want to add to your inventory and use that method.
Before we get into talking about what that particular type of item might be or what the considerations are for deciding that, let’s just kind of get back to basics and we’ll talk here at the beginning about the difference between selling via merchant fulfilled or seller fulfilled and selling via FBA, which is what we normally talk about here on The Full-Time FBA Show for obvious reasons.
[0:01:30.0] STEPHEN: FBA, woo-hoo.
[0:01:32.2] REBECCA: Yeah, FBA fulfillment by Amazon, this is when you send your inventory to the amazon warehouse and then Amazon takes care of fulfilling the order once a customer places the order but if you’re selling via merchant fulfilled or seller fulfilled, that means that you have the inventory on hand and when a customer makes a purchase, you personally then are fulfilling that order, you personally or your employee, whoever you have to get for you.
You are responsible as the seller or the merchant for fulfilling it, for getting it packaged and shipped off via USPS to the customer.
[0:02:06.5] STEPHEN: Yeah, it’s called a lot of different things. Merchant fulfilled, seller fulfilled, fulfilled by merchant but it all means the same thing. You, the seller, are taking care of fulfilling the order and we always talk about FBA, we’re Full-Time FBA and the reason why is because almost all year long, FBA is a better option than merchant fulfilling.
I mean, with FBA, you have your inventory at an Amazon warehouse, you get more time in the Buy Box, you’re able to charge higher prices, it’s just a lot easier to outsource all of your storage and shipping and customer service and all of that stuff to Amazon with FBA but there are times during the year, especially during Q4, where merchant fulfilling might be a good option to choose.
[0:02:47.6] REBECCA: That comes specifically in December. I would say that that’s when it really becomes a good idea to consider is merchant fulfilling an item worth your time and effort because by December, the FBA warehouses are going to be backed up, they’re going to be experiencing slow check-ins when it comes to sellers sending in their inventory. By early to mid-December, you’ve got new employees working in these warehouses because they’ve hired seasonal employees.
You’ve got lots of FBA sellers flooding the warehouses with their inventory trying to sell it before Christmas and it’s just going to be slow check-in process at the warehouse and then potentially slow for them to get your items then available on the Amazon website and then shipped out once the customer is able to buy it.
The reason why you would consider then merchant fulfilling is that if you have the item right there with you and the customer buys it from you via merchant fulfil, you are in control of getting that item out to your customer faster than FBA would be at that point and they would be able to get it before Christmas.
[0:03:54.7] STEPHEN: Yeah, with FBA, if you send it to an Amazon warehouse, you know, it take a week to get there and maybe a week to get checked in and all these time, you could have been merchant fulfilling and getting those sales. If you have the availability of time and the space, merchant fulfilling during early to mid-December might be a really good option and there’s certain items that sell really well and I really suggest you look into focusing on merchant fulfilling in early December.
The first one is items that are sold out on Amazon. Of course, if they’re sold out on Amazon and the only place they can get it is from a merchant fulfilled seller like you, then that’s a great opportunity. I mean, there’s times where I’ve purchased something in a store and actually listed on Amazon while I was in the checkout lane, merchant fulfilled, and was able to get a sale by the time I got to the car.
I mean, it was – it can sometimes go that quickly. Another good item to merchant fulfill in December, something that could be given as a gift, those items might not sell as quickly after Christmas time, trying to get it and merchant fulfilling those type of orders is a good idea. Again, anything holiday related too. People, even in the last second are still buying ornaments and anything gift related.
Gingerbread houses for their kids to decorate on Christmas Eve, things like that, that could be something you could merchant fulfill quickly. Also, grocery items, there are so many food opportunities and eating opportunities in December that people sometimes buy by their grocery items via merchant fulfilled from sellers and so, they’ll be able to buy your inventory and get it quickly and so there’s a lot of opportunities.
In fact, if you have some ideas of what could potentially sell well via merchant fulfilled in December, we’d love for you to comment on our show notes, fulltimefba.com/111.
[0:05:30.5] REBECCA: Overall, the best and the easiest items to merchant fulfill are going to be items that are small, that don’t weigh a lot, that they’re light and they are simple and cheap to ship to your customers. If it’s able to be put in a padded envelope, that’s even better. These are going to be items that are just not a pain to package and take to the post office.
When you are asking, “Am I going to merchant fulfill anything?” I don’t go out looking for items to merchant fulfill but if I find any items that fit into the categories that fit the criteria you just said and are small and easy to package up, I would definitely consider doing that.
[0:06:03.8] STEPHEN: Yeah, definitely. Merchant fulfilling in December might be a good choice for you but there are a few things that you need to know ahead of time before you just jump into that. Number one, you’ve got to make sure you have your shipping templates set up how you would like them. You can set up multiple shipping templates and what I mean is, as a merchant fulfilled seller, their shipping templates is about how much to charge your customer for shipping.
If you want to do free shipping and then work that into your price, you can do that. If you want to have weight-based shipping, size-based shipping, how much you want to charge per pound, you can go and set those up, so you want to make sure that you do that correctly. I’ve merchant fulfilled some items in the past before and I did not do that correctly and I ended up losing all my ROI in the shipping costs and that’s not the way to go, so make sure that that’s setup because you want to make sure that you don’t lose your ROI.
[0:06:53.1] REBECCA: Another thing we want to make sure to point out and this might seem like commonsense, but I just want to make sure that we’re all thinking about this, is that you want to make sure if you are listing things to sell via merchant fulfill and you sell them, that you’re making it a priority to actually fulfill these orders every day. Make sure that this is the most important part of your day is getting these out because it could really damage your account if you are not taking this seriously.
You want to make sure that you package your items really well because you just don’t want a frustrated seller who will leave you negative feedback for an order that’s slowly fulfilled or is not packaged well and gets damaged, so make sure that you’re, every day, checking on these orders and getting them out and get these merchant fulfilled orders to the post office as soon as you can.
[0:07:39.4] STEPHEN: Yeah, with usually selling via FBA, we can get kind of used to Amazon sometimes taking credit for some of the negative things that happen. Sometimes you can get feedback crossed through because it was Amazon who fulfilled that order but if you are fulfilling the order as merchant fulfilled, you want to do your best top notch because you have to take all of the responsibility for anything that negative that happens.
Before we go, I do want to let you know that usually, in fact every year except this year, Amazon has required sellers to be approved to sell toys via merchant fulfilled during Q4 specifically in the months of November and December. For some reason this year, 2021, Amazon has waived that approval requirement and will allow any seller to merchant fulfill in the toy category any of the brands that they’re already approved to sell.
But in the past usually around July or August, Amazon will send out an email saying what kind of requirements they need for sellers to become approved to sell toys via merchant fulfilled during November and December, so you can look through that. You have to have a certain, your first sale by a certain time when you need the merchant fulfill, I think, 20 orders successfully in a certain time period but each year, it kind of changes and tweaks so be on the lookout for that.
If you want to look at the most recent guidelines for being approved to merchant fulfilled toys during Q4, you go to fulltimefba.com/holidayguidelines and that will kind of give you the latest update. I mean if you are listening to this in the future, just be sure you’re approved before you try to start focusing on merchant fulfilling toys in November and December.
[0:09:07.5] REBECCA: Hopefully some of this information has been helpful for you if you are considering merchant fulfilling items in particular in Q4 and we also want to make sure before we wrap this up that you are aware if you’re wanting to learn more about merchant fulfilling that The Selling Family has a merchant fulfill mini-course that’s really well done and we highly recommend and if you would like to check that out, you can find it at fulltimefba.com/merchant-fulfilled and you can use the code “FT20” to get 20% off of that merchant fulfilled mini-course from The Selling family.
[0:09:48.1] REBECCA: Thank you so much for joining us for this week’s episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. We are so glad you’re here. We want to remind you, as always, that if you want to check out any of the links that we’ve mentioned or go over any of this information from this episode, look at the transcript, any of that, you can it all at the shownotes for the episode at fulltimefba.com/111. That is fulltimefba.com/111, this is episode number 111.
[0:10:13.9] STEPHEN: Yes, that’s awesome and next week on the show, we’re going to talk about six Q4 pricing and sourcing strategies. Things are different in Q4, and these are six strategies when it comes to pricing and sourcing that you need to tweak this time of year, so see you on the next episode of The Full-Time FBA Show.
[0:10:32.3] ANNOUNCER: That is all for this episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. So, head over to fulltimefba.com/podcast, where you will find the shownotes and links from this episode. While you’re there, subscribe to our newsletter where you’ll get several free downloads of our popular and helpful Amazon FBA resources. Now, take action on what you have learned today so you can find success at turning part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA.