Should You Use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)?

6 Min READ


In today's rapidly evolving eCommerce landscape, it is essential in to meet customer expectations for fast and efficient order fulfillment. Since 2006, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)  has been helping many eCommerce merchants streamline fulfillment processes and increase customer satisfaction. But is it the way to go for your online business? Let's take a closer look at FBA, explore its pros it cons while comparing it to other conventional fulfillment methods including in-house solutions and third party logistics (3PL).

What is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)?

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service that offers merchants a warehouse space to store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers. When an order is placed, Amazon takes care of the entire fulfillment process. This includes picking, packing and shipping of product orders as well as handling customer service and returns. FBA essentially enables sellers to outsource their entire order fulfillment process, leveraging Amazon's massive logistics infrastructure and expertise.

The Pros of Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Prime Eligibility and Fast Shipping
One of the most significant advantages of using FBA is that products become eligible for Amazon Prime. Prime members benefit from free and fast shipping, which can lead to increased sales and a larger customer base.
Amazon's Trusted Brand
By using FBA, merchants align themselves with Amazon's reputation for reliable and efficient delivery. Customers trust Amazon's fulfillment service, leading to enhanced credibility and customer loyalty.
Global Reach
FBA offers international fulfillment, allowing merchants to access Amazon's global marketplaces without the complexities of managing cross-border logistics.
Time and Cost Savings
Outsourcing fulfillment to FBA can save merchants valuable time and resources. It allows them to focus on growing their business, developing new products and marketing their products while Amazon handles the time-consuming aspects of order processing and fulfillment.
24/7 Customer Service
Amazon's customer service team takes care of any inquiries, returns or issues, removing this burden from merchants and ensuring a positive customer experience.

The Cons of Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

While FBA provides numerous benefits, it does come at a cost. Merchants have to pay Amazon for storage, fulfillment and incur other fees which can eat into profit margins, especially for low-margin products.
Loss of Control
Outsourcing fulfillment to Amazon means relinquishing some control over the process. This can lead to challenges in maintaining brand identity and ensuring consistent packaging and presentation. The customer would see an Amazon truck delivering an Amazon package instead of the merchant's branded packaging. This removes some of the customer's emotional connection to the merchant's brand.
Warehouse Limitations
Amazon's warehouses are expanding all the time, but a merchant could still potentially face limitations in available warehouse space. During peak seasons, merchants may face inventory restrictions that could impact their ability to meet demand. This can be damaging to a merchant's brand, even though Amazon would be the bottleneck.

The Pros of In-House Fulfillment Solutions

Some larger merchants have their own in-house warehouse and fulfillment solutions. This is a more conventional approach and works well for companies with the right infrastructure and properly trained operational staff. Let's look at the pros of keeping product fulfillment in-house.
Control and Flexibility
In-house fulfillment offers businesses complete control over their supply chain and fulfillment operations. This control allows for greater flexibility in adapting to changing market conditions, customizing processes and maintaining brand identity. The package delivered to the customer has the merchant's branding, which bolsters the customer's emotional connection with the brand.
Cost Transparency
Merchants using in-house fulfillment have direct visibility and transparency into their operational costs. In this case, there are no costly third-party fees or commissions to consider. This makes it easier to budget and identify areas for cost optimization. 
Quality Control
Direct oversight of fulfillment enables businesses to maintain strict quality control standards, thereby managing costs. This is particularly valuable for merchants with fragile or delicate products and seek to avoid product breakage. 
Customer Experience
In-house fulfillment allows for a more personalized and direct customer experience. Merchants can handle customer inquiries and returns efficiently and according to their own service standards. Moreover, these inquiries would be handled by trained staff who are specifically representing the merchant's brand.
In-house fulfillment can be scaled up or down as needed, offering flexibility to adapt to growth or seasonal fluctuations without the contractual limitations of third party providers.

The Cons of In-House Fulfillment Solutions

High Initial Costs
Establishing an in-house fulfillment center demands a substantial upfront investment in infrastructure, technology and personnel. This can be a barrier for smaller businesses or startups.
Operational Complexity
Managing fulfillment operations can be complex and time-consuming, potentially diverting resources and focus from more strategic business activities including marketing and product development.
Expertise and Staffing
Finding and retaining skilled personnel can be challenging. Specialized knowledge and training are required for efficient operations.
Fixed Overhead
Operating an in-house fulfillment center comes with fixed overhead costs, which can be challenging to manage during periods of low demand.

The Pros of Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Providers

Many companies choose to outsource fulfillment to a third-party logistics provider, also know as a 3PL. This is a similar approach to working with FBA, but without some of the constraints. 
Cost Efficiency
One of the primary advantages of using a 3PL is cost savings. 3PL providers often have established infrastructures that offer economies of scale to multiple merchants. This results in the ability to manage fulfillment operations at a lower cost than many individual merchants could otherwise achieve with an  in-house solution.
3PL services are flexible and can scale up or down based on a company's needs. This scalability is particularly valuable for merchants with fluctuating demand, seasonal variations or periods of rapid growth.
Focus on Strategic Initiatives
Outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL frees up the merchant to reduce their operational burden and instead concentrate on strategic initiatives such as product development and marketing.
Global Reach
Many 3PL providers have a global network and can help merchants expand their reach into international markets efficiently by managing complex customs and international shipping regulations on the merchant's behalf.
Technology and Expertise
3PL providers often have access to advanced technology and expertise in supply chain management, leading to improved efficiency and accuracy in fulfillment operations.

The Cons of Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Providers

Loss of Control
One of the most significant drawbacks of using a 3PL is the potential loss of control over key aspects of the supply chain. Merchants are at the mercy of the 3PL provider to meet their standards for quality, inventory management and customer service.
Limited Customization
3PL services may not offer the same level of customization as in-house fulfillment solutions. Merchants may have to conform to standardized, archaic processes such as EDI (electronic data interchange) that may not align perfectly with their unique needs.
Communication Challenges
Maintaining clear communication with a third-party logistics provider can sometimes be challenging, especially if there are time zone differences or language barriers.
Cost Transparency
While 3PL services can provide cost savings, they often come with various fees and charges that may not always be transparent. Merchants should carefully review their 3PL contracts to understand the full cost structure and identify any possible hidden costs.
Risk of Dependency
Over-reliance on a 3PL provider could potentially make it challenging to switch providers or bring fulfillment operations in-house if needed.


Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) can be a game-changing solution for some eCommerce merchants, as it offers a range of benefits that can elevate their business and overall customer experience. Prime eligibility, global reach and time savings are clear advantages. However, merchants must carefully consider the costs and potential loss of control before committing to FBA. In-house fulfillment solutions and third-party logistics (3PL) solutions are still viable options depending on the unique needs and goals of the merchant.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to use FBA or opt for a conventional fulfillment solution should be based on the merchant's specific requirements and priorities. Whichever option you choose, streamlined and efficient order fulfillment remains crucial for success in today's competitive eCommerce environment.
Need help managing your FBA or other fulfillment solution and integrating it with your eCommerce platform? Contact Fortuitas and let's get you hooked up!

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