Amazon Announces Unbranded Packaging for MCF Orders
📢 Amazon announced on December 3rd that sellers can now ship all Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) orders once again in brand-neutral packaging, but this time, at no extra cost.
In 2016, the eComm giant inexplicably removed unbranded packaging from its paid FBA services and thereafter Walmart started suspending sellers guilty of using branded boxes or logistics services from its competitors because it was (and still is) against the company’s policies to fulfill Walmart orders in Amazon-branded boxes or to use Amazon Logistics for fulfillment.
In 2020, Amazon brought the program back under a different name – MCF Blank Box Order Fulfillment – but it was only available to a select group of sellers.
And just this month, Amazon announced a wider roll out of unbranded packaging service and started shipping MCF orders in plain cartons or poly bags at no additional cost.
This is especially helpful for sellers who may want avoid using Amazon’s branding when shipping to customers from competing sales platforms.
The reintroduction of unbranded packaging may be Amazon’s answer to rivals catching up. As previously reported:
- Walmart is rapidly branching out into eCommerce after dominating the brick-and-mortar space for decades. Over the last two years, it launched its own fulfillment service for third-party sellers, opened its online marketplace to non-US based sellers, and expanded its display ads program, Search Brand Amplifier, to take on Amazon.
- Shopify has also spent the last two years building out its own fulfillment network. It has recently acquired Deliverr to be able to compete with Amazon Buy with Prime.
- Alphabet continues to expand its suite of eCommerce tools to turn Google into an online shopping site and transform YouTube into a live shopping platform, allowing them to stand toe-to-toe with Amazon, Shopify, and Walmart, as well as social commerce giants TikTok and Instagram.
- Chinese tech giants Pinduoduo, Shein, and TikTok have also recently entered the US eComm market.
Clearly, the battle for dominance is no longer just between Amazon and Walmart. Sellers now have more diverse marketplace options to expand their businesses into – all the more reason for Amazon to try to keep hold of Walmart, Shopify, or Google orders to maintain dominance and more importantly, to hold on to your MCF data.
Gain Access to Valuable Intel
The termination of brand-neutral packaging in 2016 worked greatly to Walmart’s advantage as it helped them to keep their data from the prying eyes of Amazon.
As we’ve explained before, Amazon uses your MCF volume when calculating your Inventory Performance Index (IPI) score and restock limits. Additionally, when you fulfill orders from Shopify through FBA MCF, for instance, Amazon also gains access to your off-Amazon sales and customer data – extremely valuable information that they could use to:
- Size up and fend off the rise of their rivals
- Develop their own private label brands
- Remarket Amazon products to shoppers from other platforms
Realizing the significant amount of intel that Amazon lost from removing unbranded packaging may have prompted them to gradually bring the service back.
And to make sure you stay compliant with other marketplaces’ policies, Amazon now automatically ships all MCF orders in plain boxes or poly bags.
Unbranded packaging is available for eligible sortable items. Non-sortable goods, footwear, apparel, and any products heavier than 50 lbs (rounded off) or bigger than 56 inches are not eligible and therefore, cannot be shipped in brand-neutral packaging.
If, however, a certain marketplace prohibits you from using Amazon Logistics for fulfillment (like Walmart and eBay), MCF has a paid service that lets you add the option to block orders from being shipped by Amazon.
Even though Amazon provides this option to circumvent certain delivery, we still wouldn’t recommend using FBA’s MCF for Walmart as the channel is strictly against it and has ways of tracking down whether you may be violating their policies. Walmart seller accounts have been shut down for doing this so it is best not to take on the risk.
But overall, launching unbranded packaging is a smart move for Amazon that not only allows them to get their hands on some valuable data, but could also keep you dependent on MCF and make FBA look more attractive to non-Amazon sellers.