Getting "Fulfilled" by Amazon
by Renée Magriel Roberts
Fulfillment. A wonderful word and quite an old word, from the Old English fullfyllan "fill up, make full," from full + fyllan (see fill, which is ultimately from the root of full). Used early of prophecy and perhaps a translation of L. implere, adimplere.
I was just checking my Amazon account this morning and there brightly highlighted was an invitation and link to "upgrade" my account to "Fulfillment by Amazon". I'm always looking for ways to get fulfilled by the mega-sites on which we list our books, so I thought I'd go check it out. Two of Amazon's senior staff graciously walked me through the program: Drew Hardener, Senior Public Relations Manager, and Joe Walowski, Senior Product Manager/Fulfillment by Amazon.
Amazon is a customer-centric company, and not surprisingly, this new program focuses on satisfying particular customer needs. Amazon's customers have been saying for quite some time that they really like the added selection and variety (as well as the prices) of books for sale by independent sellers on Amazon's site. However, they have been less enthusiastic about the quality of the fulfillment process, as well as the lack of integration with other Amazon programs, such as Amazon Prime, which enables a customer to pay for shipping in advance with a flat rate fee. Books purchased through independent sellers on Amazon do not qualify for Amazon Prime.
This being the case, Amazon has come up with a beta Fufillment by Amazon -- one of three legs of a merchant program, including Pro Merchant and Webstore by Amazon (not yet available). Through Fulfillment by Amazon, Amazon arranges to handle the packing, shipping, and servicing of independent bookseller orders. Participating sellers simply send their inventory to an Amazon fulfillment center and when orders are received, they take care of the rest.
Amazon picks, packs and ships the book. The inventory is physically stored in Amazon's Fulfillment Centers. Book inventories in this way are eligible for "Super Saver Shipping" and "Amazon Prime" shipping programs. Purchases appear on customer self-service accounts in the same way as direct Amazon purchases. There is 24-hour customer service and the capability to gift wrap purchases.
Books are stored for $.45 per cubic foot per month. Additional handling fees apply: books priced less than $25.00 are billed at $.50 each plus $.40 per lb. If the books are more than $25.00 they are billed at $1.00 each plus $.40 per lb. A $3.00 handling fee is applied if the book is more than 18" long x 14" wide x 8" high, or weighs more than 20 lbs. Of course, the Amazon merchant commission applies to each order as well.