Amazon Fulfillment Alternatives: Debunking World Takeover Myths

June 23, 2014 by

When I tell people we’re in the fulfillment business, I very often get looks of surprise that we still exist when Amazon is basically taking over the world. With all the talk of drones, same day shipping, new 1 million square foot warehouses popping up every day, is there any hope for Amazon fulfillment alternatives?

The simple answer is yes, and co-existence isn’t all that shocking.

Whenever a company like Amazon gets to certain size, they have to streamline all of their processes in order scale their service. This means that if you want to become a Fulfillment By Amazon client, you’re going to have to provide your product exactly how they want it, with proper packaging and bar coding. You can give them a call but you’re not going to get anyone on the line who knows anything about your product, and good luck actually trying to get access to your product in an Amazon warehouse.

Not surprisingly, there are all kinds of businesses that don’t fit this mold, ones that more require services than Amazon can scale to provide.

Case in point: Apparel companies like Gentleman’s Gazette, which provides high quality, hand crafted menswear and accessories with special packaging and returns requirements. Gentlemen’s Gazette, in particular, has 3 sizes of custom boxes they use to encase their product before putting them into a sleeve or box for shipping. When a customer returns an item, it needs to be folded and treated with care so that it can be sent out again when a new order arrives. Both scenarios require judgment on the part of the picker, which comes from repetitious exposure and handling of the product.

This same type of customized service is necessary for many other industries as well, especially for multi-channel businesses. Custom packaging like poster tubes, gift note writing, ironing, and kitting and assembly projects are basic needs for a universe of businesses, services that Amazon would never be able to scale efficiently.

In conclusion, Amazon works for business that are simply moving boxes, but not so much for businesses that need customized fulfillment services. In the case of the latter, there are amazon fulfillment alternatives like Alive who will thrive being a niche player in a high growth industry.