If you’re in e-commerce and you sell on Amazon, you’ve probably used FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon)….

But, let’s face it, you’ve probably also found yourself frustrated by FBA and have looked for alternatives, perhaps to no avail.

Well, there is now an answer and we’re called Huboo – a new fulfilment service for e-commerce. We’ll admit, we may be just a little bit biased here at Huboo HQ, but we think our service comes with an enormous amount of benefits which make us a more than viable alternative to FBA. But because we’re such big fans of transparency, this will be a whistle stop tour of FBA vs. Huboo, so you can make your mind up yourself as to what the better option is…

So for those who haven’t yet experienced it, what’s do so many retailers find frustrating about FBA? And how are Huboo different?

  • Storage fees are as good a place as any to start. At Huboo, we offer 2 months free storage as standard and for Frooition customers we will even upgrade that to 6 months free storage on the first shipment to us. Compare this to the FBA policy of charging for storage from the word go, and the fees quickly add up. What’s more, FBA ramp up the fees for storage October to December, exactly when you want to be stocking more to cope with increased seasonal demand.
  • With Huboo, if stock levels are managed well, there is no reason why Huboo e-commerce sellers should ever have to pay for storage.
  • Storage fees also perfectly illustrate the primary source of retailer frustration with FBA; a policy that can be described as ‘Service by Numbers’ – Amazon have a formula to the way they work that means they can be very inflexible – “the computer says no,” if you will. To give an example we heard of recently, if your items are over-sized Amazon won’t as standard consider the fact the items in question may stack on-top of each other, and thus take up a lot less room. Storage fees in situations such as this add up very quickly with FBA.
  • Huboo take a very different approach. If the computer says no, we’ll look at the specifics, as we understand every situation is different. We’ll therefore always see what bespoke solutions we may be able to offer to find a fair price, no matter the situation.
  • Talking of bespoke solutions, another aspect of the Huboo service we take very seriously is keeping things as simple as possible for our sellers. With FBA, there’s a long list of terms and conditions and different specifications sellers must follow to use FBA. With Huboo, you’ll always chat to a real person; We’ll even put you personally in touch with the team picking and packing your goods, and enable a real, trusting relationship to be established.

Sounds great, but how is it possible to personally speak with the team picking and packing my goods…surely Huboo operate one giant warehouse like everyone else?

  • No, we don’t. At Huboo, we have looked at what FBA and other fulfilment services have done and worked to create a service that is as seller friendly as possible. We have broken the warehouse space down into ‘Hubs’ (hence Huboo…geddit?), with dedicated ‘Hub’ managers.
  • This is how we facilitate the connection to be made between warehouse staff and the businesses they serve. Contrast this with the stories that emerge from Amazon warehouses, with research that has come out over the last few years suggesting workers can walk up to 20 miles a day, helping to pick and pack for a huge range of different customers. Huboo research suggests our warehouse staff spend just 25 minutes a day walking. We believe this means happier and more productive staff, and ultimately is reflected in the prices we can offer our customers.

Finally, you’ve mentioned prices…we’ve already established Huboo is much better value for storage than FBA, what about all the other costs?

  • In the spirit of honesty, let’s first talk about where we think FBA represent good value. For small, light and cheap items, FBA is undeniably fantastically priced. If your main channel is Amazon and your items are indeed small, light and cheap (under £9) it’s hard to argue that FBA doesn’t serve your fulfilment needs well. We would of course argue that our seller friendly approach still means a chat with Huboo would be worth your while, but we won’t be offended if you decide to stick it out with FBA.
  • For items that weigh more than 225g, though, that’s when we firmly believe Huboo truly comes into its own. A few years ago, Amazon changed their prime rules to enable sellers to still qualify for prime status, via Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP). Huboo is fully enabled for SFP, so there’s no need to sacrifice your prime badge if you’re looking to give another fulfilment service a go. To qualify for SFP, items must be sent out with Huboo via our RM24 full tracked service and for most items the cost of fulfilment is roughly the same as what you may pay with FBA.

Check out Huboo pricing levels here.

Okay, but what about customer service to actual Amazon buyers, surely FBA must beat Huboo when it comes to that?

  • Yes, they do! Huboo can manage the returns process back to our warehouse but can’t offer the all-singing, all-dancing 24/7 customer service that FBA can. However, as ever, it’s not quite as simple as that…
  • The fact is, the easier and simpler the returns process is, the more likely customers are to exploit this. This adds further costs to your business and is something that needs to be factored into the equation when considering FBA. Particularly if your products are something that customers are likely to want to ‘try before they buy’ – this is a real risk if you’re using FBA. This directly includes fashion and shoes, and anything else these pesky millennials are purchasing – if a return process is too seamless, it smells trouble to us!
  • The fees Amazon charge you, the seller, can add up quickly but for the Amazon customer the returns process has never been simpler and cheaper. This highlights an important point; to Amazon, and by extension FBA, keeping their sellers happy will always come second to their number one mission which is to keep customers happy. At Huboo, we care about your customers too, but we don’t also run a marketplace, we have no direct relationship with them, our only concern is our network of e-commerce sellers.
  • But we can’t deny it, the added value of the customer service that FBA offers to your own customers does make it an enticing prospect. But, as already mentioned, if your sales are spread out across more channels than just Amazon and you have a true multi-channel e-commerce approach, Huboo’s prices are the best out there and won’t be beaten.

Sure, multi-channel e-commerce is what’s it all about, but how does Huboo help with that?

  • The real advantage of Huboo is that our pricing is the same, no matter the channel. Contrast this with Amazon’s fulfilment service for 3rd party marketplaces, where you will see the prices are approximately 2 to 3 times more expensive than Huboo, depending on the item size and weight.
  • Not only that, but our pricing structure is completely transparent, with no hidden costs. This is far from the norm with fulfilment houses and is nearly always one of the first things prospective clients pick out when discussing our service.
  • To us at Huboo, a true multi-channel strategy makes sense. It spreads risk and doesn’t make you reliant on the whims of a tech giant such as Amazon. The more marketplaces you can sell on, the greater the chance of reaching as many customers as possible.
  • Perhaps you’re predominantly an Amazon seller and have always understood the value of a multi-channel strategy, but access to affordable fulfilment is what has always held you back….
  • Well, with Huboo in town, there’s nothing to hold you back any longer!

Lots of food for thought there, perhaps you can summarise?

  • To summarise, FBA enables a huge number of retailers to reach a huge number of customers. It will suit some smaller retailers better and if it works for you, then it works for you. It’s when the time for you to grow that things become an issue, and maybe a call to Huboo is needed.
  • There are a multitude of issues with the service of FBA, as highlighted throughout this blog. The ‘Service by Numbers’ element of FBA ultimately is the best way of summing up the issues. Amazon are so, so big; they don’t need you and they don’t care. If you want a bespoke solution to your fulfilment needs, it will be much harder to get Amazon to listen than it will be a service such as
  • So if FBA isn’t working for you, or indeed if you are interested in further pursuing a multi-channel strategy without a heavy reliance on selling via Amazon, Huboo makes the most sense in so many ways, and we can’t wait to hear from you.

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