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Amazon FBA vs. Printful Warehousing & Fulfillment: Find a 3PL Partner that Fits Your Online Business

By on July 20th, 2021 Reading Time: 5 minutes

So you want to scale your online business, but you’re not really sure where and how to do it? Choosing a third-party logistics (3PL) partner is a good place to start.

A 3PL, also known as a warehousing partner, can give you far more than storage space for your products. You’ll get the time to focus on growing your business while your partner fulfills each order you receive.

So let’s take a look at Amazon FBA and Printful Warehousing & Fulfillment to see if one of these services is the right starting point for you.

Are you ready?

What is warehousing and fulfillment?

The idea behind warehousing is quite simple: you store products with your warehousing service provider, and once you get an order, your partner picks, packs, and sends them to your customers. So you don’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty logistics.

Say you’re selling t-shirts on your online store. You could stack boxes upon boxes of tees in your home or rent a separate storage space, but then you’ll have to deal with the repetitive fulfillment and shipping tasks.

Instead, you can connect your store with a warehousing service that takes care of these tasks for you. Then you can sell your t-shirts in all colors and sizes you want, sit back, and watch your orders roll in. 

Choose the right 3PL partner for you

Choosing a 3PL partner is just as important as committing to any big business decision. However, to select the right partner, you need to lay out all the facts—the good and the bad.

If you look for 3PL or warehousing partners on any search engine, surely enough, you’ll get a long list of warehousing services. You can, of course, choose the first service you see, but why risk choosing a partner that doesn’t match your business needs?

We’ve already done some of the research for you in this post by picking two top-level warehousing service providers. While different in many ways, both Amazon FBA and Prinftul Warehousing & Fulfillment can make a good partner depending on what and where you sell.

What is Amazon FBA?

Amazon is a marketplace with millions of sellers and customers. You probably know the drill—search for any item on their site and choose your favorite from thousands of options. But how can you work with Amazon as a seller?

You can take two paths: either take care of product fulfillment yourself or leave it up to Amazon. Here’s where Fulfilment by Amazon (Amazon FBA) comes into play. 

If you’re selling on Amazon, using their in-house 3PL service has its perks, but there can also be limitations.

What are the pros of Amazon FBA?

  • Sell globally. With over 180 fulfillment centers worldwide, you’ll likely find there’s at least one in your selling region. That means it’s easy to start selling in different markets and reach distant locations. You just need to decide where you want to expand your business.  
  • Predict when inventory will go out of stock. With Amazon’s restock tool, you can learn when and how much inventory you should send to fulfillment warehouses. It’s based on estimated future demand and is free to use for any FBA customer.
  • Stock different types of products. You have a long list of products to sell as there are only a few limitations to what you can stock. 
  • Get shipping deals. Shipping costs are often the reason for shopping cart abandonment. If you sell on Amazon, your products are eligible for Amazon Prime free shipping, giving your business a boost in the right direction.
  • Choose a plan that fits your needs. Whether your top priority is to sell small products, offer discounts, or ship products without export charges, select a plan that suits you best. You can sign up for one or multiple plans, depending on your business goals.

What are the cons of Amazon FBA?

  • Selling on your store. Selling products on ecommerce platforms instead of Amazon marketplace has many limitations. For starters, your selling region is narrowed down to US territory. You also can’t rely on Amazon for return management. All the returned items will go back to you instead of Amazon’s fulfillment warehouse.
  • You’ll get charged referral fees for selling on Amazon. On top of all other costs, Amazon takes on average 8%-15% in referral fees from each product you sell. So before selling your product through the FBA warehousing service, do all the necessary calculations to make sure you’re still profitable.
  • Your storage fee can change. Storing your products can cost you more during the holiday season. The same happens with products stocked in fulfillment warehouses for more than 365 days. To avoid paying almost double in storage fees you should estimate how many items you can sell in a year.
  • Lack of control over packaging. You can’t add any branding to your orders, so your products get packed in standard Amazon packaging. Although it’s not a big issue, it can make it hard for you to stand out from other sellers. 

What is Printful Warehousing & Fulfillment?

Printful is a printing and fulfillment company best known for print-on-demand (POD) services. But for a few years now, you can also use Printful’s Warehousing & Fulfillment service to sell your own products. 

Let’s dive in to see what lies under the Warehousing & Fulfillment service.

Box with colorful packaging inside
Source: Printful

What are the pros of Printful Warehousing & Fulfillment?

  • Get same-day fulfillment. If your order rolls in before noon local time, it’ll start making its way to your customer already the same day. 
  • Store print-on-demand products in bulk. Print-on-demand items are printed and fulfilled only when your order comes in. But to cut the fulfillment time, you can also stock up on your bestsellers by ordering your products in bulk and storing them in fulfillment warehouses before peak season. So when the holiday orders keep flooding in, you can avoid fulfillment and shipping delays.
  • Add branding materials to your orders. Customers appreciate a personal touch. By adding a thank you card or a small nick-nack to an order wrapped up in customized packaging, you can increase your chances of getting repeat orders.
  • Get fixed fulfillment and storage fees. Manage your shop with peace of mind and consistent order fulfillment and storage costs. Once you set up product prices on your store, you won’t have to go back to check whether the costs for warehousing service have changed.
  • Use easy multichannel selling. You can’t sell directly on Printful, but you can most certainly sell with the help of Printful. Integrate with multiple ecommerce platforms and marketplaces in one place.

What are the cons of Printful Warehousing & Fulfillment?

  • Only in 4 locations for now. Although 4 is not a large number, each warehouse is strategically located to cover the most active ecommerce markets. If you want to sell in a remote region, Printful might not be the best choice.
  • Minimum monthly storage fee of $25. The amount you’ll have to pay for monthly storage space is calculated based on the size and quantity of your items. But when that amount falls under $25, you’ll have to pay the difference. To get your money’s worth, it’s better to store enough items to meet the minimum fee. 
  • Limits to what you sell. There are limitations to the product categories and sizes that you can store in fulfillment warehouses. Printful doesn’t stock bulky, fragile, or dangerous goods.
  • No sales forecasts. Currently, you can’t get your hands on any inventory statistics regarding future sales predictions and restock suggestions. To predict future sales, you should look at past inventory statements and do the calculations yourself.

Which service should you choose?

Before you make the final decision let’s put some facts into perspective!

Amazon FBAPrintful
Warehousing & Fulfillment
Storage feesJan–Sep $0.75/ft3
Oct–Dec $2.4/ft3
Minimum $25/month
Selling plan$0.99/per item
or $39.99/month
No
Fulfillment feesYesYes
Extra feesReferral feesNo
Warehouse locationsThe US, Canada, EuropeThe US, Canada, Europe
Number of locations1854
Customer serviceYesYes
Multi-channel connectivityYesYes
Return managementYesYes
Restock estimationYesNo
BrandingNoYes

Each service has its pros and cons, but the big picture is quite clear.

Amazon FBA is a better choice if you:

  • Sell small, light, and cheap items
  • Want to predict future sales
  • Sell only on Amazon marketplace
  • Want to sell in many locations at the same time

Printful Warehousing & Fulfillment is a better choice if you:

  • Want predictable fulfillment and storage prices
  • Sell on multiple ecommerce platforms and marketplaces
  • Also sell POD products
  • Want to stand out from your competitors with custom pack-ins and packaging

No matter which service you choose, both Amazon and Printful are trusted industry leaders. So all you need to do is compare both pros and cons with your business goals, and off you go!

Have you found your perfect warehousing match yet? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Amanda is a Content Marketing Specialist at Printful and her experience in the arts and media helps her to dig into all creative aspects of writing. She likes to lead people into a discussion and doesn’t shy away from personal or professional challenges.

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