FBA vs. FBM: Which Fulfillment Option is Right for You?

September 23, 2023

In the world of online retail, particularly on platforms like Amazon, understanding your fulfillment options is pivotal. The two primary choices available for Amazon sellers are Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM). Each method offers its own set of advantages and challenges, and the right choice largely depends on a seller’s specific needs and business model. This article delves into the intricacies of FBA and FBM, comparing them in-depth to help sellers make an informed decision.

What is FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon)?

Definition: FBA is a service provided by Amazon where the e-commerce giant takes care of the storage, packaging, and shipping of a seller’s products to the end customers.

Advantages of FBA:

Prime Eligibility: Products fulfilled by Amazon automatically qualify for Amazon Prime, allowing for faster shipping and attracting Prime customers.

Customer Trust: As products are shipped from Amazon’s warehouses, there’s often a higher level of trust from customers regarding delivery timelines and service.

Global Reach: With FBA, sellers can access Amazon’s global fulfillment network, making international shipping easier.

Customer Service & Returns: Amazon handles customer service inquiries and returns for FBA items, reducing the hassle for sellers.

Challenges of FBA:

Cost: FBA can be more expensive due to storage fees, especially for products that don’t turn over quickly.

Commingling Issues: If sellers don’t opt for stickered inventory, their products can be commingled with those of other sellers, which can lead to quality control issues.

Inventory Limits: Depending on the product category and storage capacity, Amazon might limit the number of products a seller can store.

What is FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant)?

Definition: In FBM, the seller retains control over the storage, packaging, and shipping processes, either managing these tasks in-house or via third-party logistics (3PL) providers.

Advantages of FBM:

Cost Control: Sellers have more control over their overhead and can potentially save on storage and fulfillment costs, especially if they have an established logistics system.

Inventory Flexibility: There’s no limit imposed by Amazon on the amount of inventory a seller can have.

Direct Customer Interaction: Sellers handle customer service directly, allowing for personalized interactions and relationship-building.

Challenges of FBM:

Prime Eligibility: FBM products generally aren’t Prime-eligible unless enrolled in Seller Fulfilled Prime, which has strict criteria.

Increased Responsibility: The onus of timely delivery, customer service, and returns lies entirely on the seller.

Potentially Higher Shipping Rates: Without the bulk shipping discounts Amazon receives, FBM sellers might face higher shipping costs.

So, FBA or FBM? Factors to Consider:

Volume & Turnover: For high volume, quick turnover items, FBA can be cost-effective due to reduced storage time. For niche or slower-moving items, FBM might be more economical.

Margins: Evaluate the costs associated with each model and determine how it impacts your product margins.

Control: If you prefer having direct control over your inventory, customer interactions, and shipping processes, FBM might be more suited.

Infrastructure: If you already have established storage and fulfillment processes, or relationships with 3PLs, transitioning to FBA might be unnecessary.

International Selling: For sellers aiming to tap into global markets, FBA’s international fulfillment network can be a major advantage.


There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing between FBA and FBM. Both have distinct advantages, and the best choice depends on a seller’s individual circumstances, goals, and resources. It’s crucial for sellers to continually reassess their choice as their business grows and evolves. Some even opt for a hybrid model, using FBA for their bestsellers and FBM for other products. Whichever method you choose, the ultimate goal is to offer timely deliveries, maintain product quality, and ensure customer satisfaction.

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