Running an ecommerce business can be a difficult undertaking, which involves managing complex operations across various business functions like product development, operations, finance, marketing, and more.
Outsourcing your company’s logistics to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, like Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF), can be a great way to eliminate some of the challenges associated with operating an ecommerce business. You can leverage a 3PL’s expertise and established infrastructure to optimize your end-to-end logistics operations including order fulfillment and inventory management.
One of the benefits of partnering with a 3PL is gaining access to its suite of state-of-the-art integrations that can connect your ecommerce sales channels – like your brand website, ecommerce marketplaces, or social media stores – with your 3PL’s systems as well as your own back-end systems. Integrating all of these systems can enable you automate your order fulfillment process and realize a number of business benefits, including:
- Cutting down on manual effort: While some business owners may still manage their order fulfillment operations through a series of spreadsheets, automating your order fulfillment using an integration means you no longer need to submit customer orders to your fulfillment provider manually. This, in turn, saves you time and frees you up to focus more on other areas of your business, like marketing and sales.
- Operating more efficiently: Employing an integration allows orders, customer information, and tracking details to automatically flow between your sales channels to your 3PL fulfillment provider without any lag. You can also easily sync your inventory levels across your channels, improving inventory and order picking accuracy.
- Growing your sales across multiple channels: With automated order fulfillment, you can easily and effectively get up and running on new channels as you expand your business.
Choosing an ecommerce integration is a big decision, and it’s important to evaluate all the options out there and determine which integration will best meet your business’ needs.
MCF offers over 100 different integration options, from “Built by Amazon” apps to inventory and order management solutions to custom APIs. If you’re an Amazon seller, you can try the new MCF Integration Selection Tool to find the right integration solution for your business.
In this blog, we will discuss the five types of ecommerce integrations available for MCF and explain how these integrations can help you automate and optimize your order fulfillment.
#1: “Built by Amazon” apps
“Built by Amazon” apps for MCF were developed by Amazon to connect the ecommerce solution provider that hosts your website to MCF. These apps are free-to-use and require zero coding, making them an attractive choice for retailers that only require a direct connection between their brand websites and MCF. Once an order is placed on your website, the app will automatically send the order to MCF for fulfillment.
There are four “Built by Amazon” apps available: Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix, and Adobe Commerce. These apps have enabled businesses to automate their order fulfillment process, helping them save them time and money. For example, LA Police Gear used the MCF app for BigCommerce to streamline their fulfillment operations, resulting in improved operational efficiency and delivery performance and reduced operating costs.
#2: Third-party applications
The alternative to “Built by Amazon” apps are third-party integrations with MCF. These integrations are built by independent software vendors (ISVs) to provide a connection between MCF and the ecommerce solution provider that powers your direct-to-consumer (DTC) website. These apps are a good fit for merchants seeking a single integration between MCF and their websites.
It’s important to note that each third-party app offers a unique set of features and benefits – WebBee and ByteStand, for example, are available in countries outside the US. As you evaluate your different options, you will want to check to make sure that the app offers the functionality you’re looking for.
Businesses around the world have successfully deployed third-party integrations with MCF. Learn how beverage retailer Poppi used WebBee to integrate its Shopify website with MCF and reduce its fulfillment costs by 30%.
From the flow of orders to the speed of fulfillment, the WebBee integration is exceptionally reliable. With its precise reporting, I gain measurable insights about my orders. I always know my Amazon inventory levels, and our customers also benefit from real-time tracking updates about their order. Integrating our business with MCF has raised my confidence as a business manager.
#3: Inventory and order management solutions
Another type of integration is inventory and order management solutions, which enable you to streamline the way you manage your business and automate your order fulfillment. These prebuilt third-party solutions allow you to perform your inventory and order management across all your sales channels through a single system. If your operations involve complex order routing, and you wish to connect multiple sales channels to MCF for automated order fulfillment, inventory and order management solutions might be the right choice for you. Some of these solutions also connect to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems so you can perform financial reporting.
You can integrate with MCF using a variety of inventory and order management solutions, such as Veeqo, Listing Mirror, ShipStation, Pipe17, ChannelAdvisor, and more. For smart home retailer, Wyze, the Pipe17 integration with MCF made order fulfillment easy, enabling the company to improve click-to-delivery speeds by over 50%.
#4: Returns management solutions
Reverse logistics (also known as returns management) is an essential component of ecommerce operations – which can have a major impact on your customer experience as well as your bottom-line. By integrating and using a returns management solution with MCF, you can automate your returns process and avoid the hassle of manually managing your returns. Additionally, you can glean meaningful insights from your returns data to identify problematic products and other issues.
If you sell products that typically have a high return rate – like apparel, footwear, or beauty products – an integration with a returns management solution might be beneficial for your business. Returns management solutions like ReturnGo make reverse logistics with MCF simple: You just set up a portal (with customizable return setting options like store credit) that customers can access from your website to initiate a return. You then determine whether you wish to have the item sent back to you or returned to Amazon to be incorporated into your Amazon inventory.
#5: Custom APIs
If your business’s back-end systems and website are custom-built and you have your own developers, our custom APIs might be the right integration choice for you. With these developer-friendly APIs and our dedicated technical support team, you can build your own custom integration that can perform a variety of functions including:
- Displaying dynamic (up to the minute) delivery and shipping dates
- Showing inventory availability for your orders and inventory that is en-route or on hand within any fulfillment center
- Viewing all tracking IDs in an MCF order
- Automatically generating a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) for returns
If you are interested in building your own custom API integration, you can consult with solution architects on the MCF team for help with customizations. Also, you can test your code prior to going live using our dynamic MCF Outbound API Sandbox. Access our developer documentation to get started.
Utilizing an ecommerce integration to automate your order fulfillment can help you optimize your business operations and grow your multi-channel sales. MCF offers five different integration types to meet the unique needs of your business. For a direct connection between your ecommerce solution provider and MCF, a “Built by Amazon” app or third-party application could be the right choice. In addition, there are integration solutions available to help you perform different functions of your business more effectively, like inventory, order, or returns management. For businesses with custom-built back-end systems, developer-friendly custom APIs might be the way to go. Take the time to explore the different integrations options that are available to find the right solution for your business.