What Happened to Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime in 2021?

With a heavy, longstanding reliance on the Amazon Prime badge for improved conversion rate and sales velocity, changes to Amazon’s Seller Fulfilled Prime program have left both seasoned sellers and novices concerned about how to adapt and thrive with Amazon’s changing fulfillment practices. To help clear up some of the confusion, we’ve synced with some of the top FBM sellers on Amazon, whose primary business models were largely reliant on SFP…until this year. Here’s what we found out:

What is the current status of SFP? 

  • SFP is still running in a limited capacity and Amazon will not disclose definitive details regarding its status or timeline.
  • Despite the SFP waitlist page still being live, Amazon is not actively looking to expand its’ SFP Program or add new brands. 
  • Amazon continues to make regular changes and add more restrictions that make it increasingly difficult to meet requirements over the past several months. 
  • The working theory among top sellers is that Amazon is continuously pushing the boundaries on restrictions until the program becomes obsolete.

What should you do about the changes to SFP?

  • Continue filling FBM orders on your own, but work on offering competitive shipping timelines.
  • If you are still enrolled in the SFP program, keep oversize items or other items that are still eligible and have supporting margins in SFP as long as it makes sense.
  • Given the widespread change and consumers adapting to the change, you shouldn’t be as concerned if you lose the Amazon Prime badge or SFP eligibility.

Is there an alternative program in the works?

  • Despite rumors that SFP was being replaced with a more stringent program, there has been no official confirmation that another program will take over.

What are some tips or recommendations as a workaround for not having the Prime badge?

  • Treat your FBM listings just as you would FBA listings. Optimize your listing title, bullets, description, and backend keywords. Add enhanced A+ Content and link the product to your storefront. 
  • Ensure reviews are in place and are being carefully monitored.
  • Applying a full-funnel advertising strategy to healthy, optimized listings with fast shipping to drive awareness and sales can be very effective in scaling your FBM products.

What are some recommendations on inexpensive, fast 3P fulfillment centers or fulfillment options that are more cost effective than FBA? 

  • Popular 3P Fulfillment services like Deliverr often cost just as much as FBA depending on the product and won’t work as an alternative to FBA. 
  • Instead, they are optimal for multi-channel fulfillment and are ideal for companies that sell products that are suitable for FBA, but are available on a large number of channels.
  • Instead, search for a more personalized fulfillment center that is designed for FBM profitability and is centrally located for fast shipping. 
  • If you are fulfilling orders yourself, work with your courier to negotiate discounted freight rates on faster shipping methods and improve your FBM margins even further.

What are some additional things to look out for with the changes to SFP during 2021?

  • Amazon adds a handling day and you can’t take that day off unless it is Prime with FBA or SFP, so be aware that this can be factored into estimated delivery dates.

What are some positive changes that have occurred with the adjustments to SFP? 

  • After testing both with SFP and without in 2021, many sellers are finding that the Prime badge is not nearly as important as it used to be in order to excel on Amazon with FBM in terms of conversion rate and impact to volume.
  • Since many sellers could not sustain SFP anymore starting this year after changes were made, consumers are beginning to adapt. 
  • At this time, most shoppers now seem to be opting for fast shipping rather than a Prime badge, so what’s really important is offering fast shipping options and not having stock issues with delayed ship dates.

What are some top tips for winning Self-Fulfilled Shipping on Amazon in 2021? 

  • If your cost to offer 2-day shipping cuts too far into your margin, add it to the list price.
  • Sellers are finding that people rarely notice the additional cost as long as it is not itemized separately as “Shipping”.
  • Consumers are programmed to look at the shipping date and not the price. 
  • When adjusting your prices to accommodate fast shipping, your biggest concern should be that your offer is winning the buy box. 
  • If you have your own brand registered private label and products with no 3p sellers, the heightened price will not cause any concern unless you are selling under the same UPC off Amazon at a lower price.
  • When it comes to winning buy box, also ensure that you have enough product on hand to keep the product “in stock” and avoid drastic fluctuations in BSR from out of stock items.

With rumors circulating throughout 2021 regarding the future of Seller Fulfilled Prime, sellers have become increasingly concerned about the repercussions of losing the Amazon Prime badge. Despite the importance of the Prime badge being a constant for many years, since the changes and effects are widespread, SFP’s transformation seems to be working out for sellers. Fortunately, the marketplace and consumers appear to be quickly adjusting and adopting new shopping behaviors. Favoring fast shipping over a Prime badge is quickly becoming the new norm.

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