Amazon’s Seller-Fulfilled Prime* program has been a big potential draw for sellers on the marketplace, but it appears that 2022 won’t see many (if any) new additions to its roster. The waitlist is still in place, and there aren’t any credible reports of new companies joining the program, which makes everyone wonder how long it will list. If you’re considering options to improve your fulfillment and meet more customers, let’s look at the current state of Amazon’s Seller-Fulfilled Prime and more realistic options you can tackle instead.
What does Seller-Fulfilled Prime offer?
Seller-Fulfilled Prime (SFP), sometimes referred to as self-fulfilled Prime by store owners, is a program that allows merchants to deliver Prime-eligible products and orders from a warehouse they control. Sellers get the Prime badge and commit to delivering within two days at no extra charge for Prime shoppers.
Amazon vets the companies in the SFP program and sets a high bar for delivery and customer experience. In turn, you primarily get the Prime badge which can help some Amazon shoppers find you. Unfortunately for most, joining SFP isn’t a realistic plan or long-term strategy.
What’s the current state of the SFP program?
As of September 2020, Amazon does not appear to be accepting any new companies to the program. It offers a waitlist for companies to sign, but multiple reports say Amazon isn’t actively taking steps to expand Seller-Fulfilled Prime capabilities, add new brands, or add new individual products.
So, these self-fulfilled Prime tools appear stuck in limbo with a limited capacity. Amazon would not provide any clear details on Seller-Fulfilled Prime’s current state, though it appears to have introduced more restrictions to the program over the past two years. According to the company, current self-fulfilled Prime efforts must meet the following metrics:
- Offer Premium Shipping Options
- Ship over 99% of orders on time
- Have an order cancellation rate of less than 0.5%
- Use Amazon Buy Shipping for at least 99% of orders
- Have nationwide delivery coverage for all standard-sized products
- Support weekend delivery and pick up
- Meet targets for 1-day and 2-day delivery promises
- Deliver orders through specified Seller-Fulfilled Prime carriers
- Agree to the Amazon Returns Policy
- Allow Amazon to manage all customer service inquiries
- Process orders with a zero-day handling time
Many of those requirements place significant limitations on your business. You’ve got to use Amazon’s preferred carriers and its “Buy Shipping” service that internally tracks all shipping data and may limit what carrier products are available to you. Amazon also requires a trial period where you must meet all the above requirements but don’t get the Prime badge.
How can companies respond to SFP in 2022?
If you’re currently one of the few brands that can perform self-fulfilled Prime activities in SFP, then you’ll need to stay on top of warehouse performance to meet the above requirements. There are concerns that the growing number of restrictions may allow Amazon to phase out Seller-Fulfilled Prime slowly. To protect against this, build up your capabilities and establish practices so you can achieve two-day fulfillment on any order from any channel. That’s the perfect time to work with a 3PL to develop a national fulfillment strategy.
If you’re not in SFP, build up your capabilities to rival Amazon’s promises. This will mean continuing Fulfilled by Merchant work and integrating with Seller Central to get access to competitive shipping rates and times. You can also investigate FBA and ensure that you’ve got proper FBA prep support. However, the most significant effort is to build up your business for sales outside of Amazon. That way, you have the chance to build an audience loyal to your brand and can encourage a broader range of sales, promotions, and referrals that aren’t possible under current Amazon seller agreements.
Unfortunately for today’s eCommerce companies, the rumors about a replacement program for SFP don’t appear to be true — at least not yet. Amazon has been pushing to expand its FBA service offerings and fulfillment network, hoping to drive many customers to that model. This gives Amazon significant control over the storage and fulfillment process — essential to maintaining Prime’s value — plus plenty of opportunities to add fees and charges to seller accounts.
Moving past Seller-Fulfilled Prime
With the continued absence of Seller-Fulfilled Prime, it’s time to start looking for ways to diversify your channels and move sales from Amazon. The more control you have over carriers, fulfillment partners, sales, and customer service, the stronger your brand can stand on its own. A fulfillment partner should be just that — a partner — not someone dictating how you run your operations.
Does the Prime badge still reign supreme?
When reviewing SFP changes and seller discussions on the program, we found that the Amazon Prime badge came up significantly. While some companies were worried about not having access to it, others noted that they’ve been able to generate significant sales if they could offer two-day shipping. Even if the brand did not have the Prime badge, they maintained those sales.
Other reports also said that sellers shouldn’t be concerned about losing the Prime badge. Many sellers that left the Seller-Fulfilled Prime program could keep their sales volume and conversion rates high as long as they offered faster shipping options. Maintaining stock levels during supply chain delays was often more important to sales than the badge.
Shoppers are getting savvy, realizing that many options are available on Amazon and elsewhere. If you’re able to meet fast delivery demands and optimize listings so they can be found via search, you’re in good shape. Then, mix in a healthy dose of ads that target value, shipping speeds, and in-stock availability. You’ll be able to scale even during uncertain supply chain times.
What alternatives are available?
Want to reach customers quickly without sitting on a waiting list for forever? Consider outsourcing your fulfillment and order management to a dependable partner like Red Stag. We can help you minimize your costs while still getting orders to customers in a two-day window. With fast order processing guarantees, there are no unnecessary delays. Plus our accuracy guarantees mean no mistakes and excellent customer service. That’s what your customers want most from Seller-Fulfilled Prime.
Experience a personalized fulfillment center solution that works with your business. Our mission is to provide reliable fulfillment that helps you expand and grow without unnecessary hoops to jump through. Plus, we can help you transition orders and sales with FBA prep, nationwide fulfillment, and strategies to help you retake control of your business. Get back to doing what you do best with reliable fulfillment from Red Stag.
*Nothing in this article is meant to imply a legal relationship between Red Stag Fulfillment, LLC and Amazon or any named company. Red Stag Fulfillment, LLC does not own any outside trademarks referenced or included in this article.