BigCommerce, a competitor of Shopify, is integrating Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfilment (MCF) service into its platform for its US clients, giving them the same service options as users of the Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA) service. They send the goods to Amazon fulfilment centres for delivery on one- to five-day services.
“Amazon MCF will help our merchants to better plan, purchase and fulfil in a much more efficient way,” said Sharon Gee, general manager of omnichannel at BigCommerce. Using MCF allows vendors to show at check-out when delivery will be made and to track the shipments. In addition, they benefit from Amazon strategically placing goods close to customers for faster delivery.
Vendors have control over the cost of shipping for consumers and are able to replace the Amazon rate with a flat fee or free shipping, paying for storage and fulfilment – including pick, pack and ship – with no peak surcharges.
MCF can create advantages for merchants who have seen 3PLs increase surcharges consistently over the past year. Moreover, it gives them an alternative fulfilment channel at a time when parcel delivery firms are struggling to cope with volumes, and are trying to control traffic through higher charges and/or volume limits.
Amazon does have limits on how much merchants can ship to its fulfilment centres, however, these are the same as for its FBA clients, according to the company.
Currently, MCF has not yet resonated in the market and does not have many customers using it. However, in the near term, as the market shrinks and FedEx and UPS are restricting corporate customers unless they pay a premium, the new option will appeal to sellers on BigCommerce.
BigCommerce claims to be used by tens of thousands of B2B and B2C customers across 150 countries and they estimate that it is about one-sixth to one-seventh of the size of Shopify, which has been growing faster.
This is seen as a sign that Amazon no longer feels constrained by the constraints caused by the pandemic, and the resulting increase in volume has slowed down next-day delivery momentum as a Standard service for Prime customers. The integration of MCF into the BigCommerce platform is a signal that Amazon is poised to compete with third-party traffic integrators in its delivery network.
FedEx has severed ties with Amazon, but UPS is still making about 10% of its revenue from Amazon, and both sides are looking to reduce their dependence on each other.
Spend Management projects the parcel market to grow at a rate of 15-20% for the next five years, with many small and mid-sized vendors popping up with significant volumes of traffic.
Rick Watson, founder and CEO of e-commerce consulting firm RMW Commerce, is less optimistic about the BigCommerce integration. While he regards a push by Amazon to compete for parcel business with the integrators as inevitable, he reckons that, for now, the company is still focused on the service aspect for its customers. But sooner or later UPS will be facing rising competition from this corner.