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Amazon May Have a New $15B Opportunity On its Hands

BigCommerce is hoping to give its U.S. merchants an easier and faster fulfillment experience with a new Amazon integration. In integrating with the e-commerce giant’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF), BigCommerce sellers can now use Amazon’s order fulfillment services even if they don’t sell on Amazon itself.

Touting faster shipping as the top benefit, BigCommerce noted that the MCF addition enables its more than 60,000 merchants to now fulfill orders seven days a week, with options for one-day, two-day and three-to-five business day delivery.

In an effort to bolster communication during the purchase and post-purchase processes, merchants also can display delivery promises at checkout providing customers with insight into when they will receive their order, and share shipment confirmation and tracking details for any carrier.

With MCF, merchants only pay for fulfillment and storage with no peak surcharges. Fulfillment fees are fully inclusive of pick, pack and ship.

Additionally, the inclusion of automatic inventory placement can help merchants get products closer to customers and scale to meet seasonal spikes without increasing fixed costs. And with the collaboration, BigCommerce merchants have full control over the cost of shipping for customers, and are able to replace the Amazon rate with a flat rate or free shipping options.

“We’re continually listening to merchants and working backwards from their needs to develop solutions that help them delight more customers. Merchants can simplify order fulfillment, reduce operational complexity, and offer customers faster delivery through Amazon MCF’s new easy-to-configure app that seamlessly integrates with their BigCommerce store,” said Gopal Pillai, vice president of Amazon fulfillment and distribution solutions, in a statement.

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Analysts at Bank of America see the partnership as having positive long-term implications for Amazon, particularly as it aims to start shipping a larger volume of products from outside sellers.

“We estimate there are 1.5 million third-party sellers on Amazon, so BigCommerce’s 60,000 global sellers would represent 4.5 percent of total existing sellers,” Justin Post, research analyst at BofA Securities, wrote in a research note. “Given the relatively small size (not all sellers will opt-in, and U.S. only), we don’t expect a major contribution to revenue growth from BigCommerce integration in the near-term. That said, we think the integration is an important signal that Amazon is increasingly willing to open up its logistics network to outside sellers, after the Ship With Amazon program was suspended due to Covid.”

In the note, Post described the announcement as a “clear indication” that Amazon is working toward building a logistics services business that encompasses non-Amazon sellers.

Early in the pandemic, BofA Securities said the Ship with Amazon program, even after its suspension, could be a $15 billion revenue opportunity by 2025.

The investment bank calculated that capturing 15 percent of the non-Amazon e-commerce shipping market would translate to an incremental 1.7 billion packages delivered, or a 24 percent increase in existing delivery scale.

With Amazon on track to add 150 million square feet in fulfillment capacity in 2021 alone, according to supply chain consultancy MWPVL International, BofA projects that the expansion will be an “opportunity for Ship with Amazon and MCF to increase utilization of Amazon’s logistics infrastructure.”

BigCommerce is aggressively escalating its growth plans as well. Already a major e-commerce platform in the U.S., BigCommerce recently expanded its European presence into France, Italy and the Netherlands after already operating in the U.K.

In these new markets, BigCommerce will provide a fully localized experience so merchants can manage their stores in their local language. The company will also create a fully localized website experience for shoppers, with their local payment methods and currencies.

The latest integration with Amazon, which it already has an existing partnership with, is part of BigCommerce’s “Open SaaS” philosophy, which lets merchants plug and play as many tools as needed to optimize customer experiences.

“Convenience and fast shipping expectations have become the holy grail of the online shopper with demand forecasting becoming harder to control,” said Sharon Gee, general manager of omnichannel, BigCommerce. “Amazon MCF will help our merchants to better plan, purchase and fulfill in a much more efficient way than they’ve ever been able to do before.”

Amazon MCF is a subprogram of the tech titan’s popular Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program, where merchants can use Amazon’s fulfillment and distribution network, delivery routes and customer services. Unlike FBA, MCF is traditionally used by existing third-party sellers that operate their own website or sell on marketplaces outside of Amazon.

“Amazon MCF strategically places merchant products close to customers to provide faster and more affordable delivery,” Pillai said. “And since Amazon picks, packs and ships orders seven days a week, merchants are able to focus their time on growing their businesses and delighting more customers.”

But the premiums of MCF give it a higher price point, sometimes as much as 40 percent to 50 percent higher than FBA’s fulfillment services, according to research from e-commerce fulfillment provider Deliverr.

And not all marketplaces permit Amazon MCF as a fulfillment option, so that’s something BigCommerce merchants should keep an eye on before opting in to the program. Both Walmart and eBay banned MCF as a fulfillment option, with a major reason being that packages are shipped with Amazon branding.