Additionally, there are some shipping points to take note off:
- Amazon’s Inventory Placement Service: send your entire order to one fulfillment center.
- Don’t lose your ship…ment! Use a freight forwarder if you’re shipping internationally.
1. Amazon’s Inventory Placement Service
How to send your entire order to one fulfillment center
By default, when you create your shipping plan, you have just learned that when you send inventory to Amazon, your shipments are distributed throughout Amazon’s fulfillment centers and you don’t have the option to select distribution centers. General wisdom is that having your inventory across multiple fulfillment centers in your home marketplace would, on average, enable faster delivery times than they would if your inventory in a single fulfillment center.
Recently, Amazon introduced an Inventory Placement Service so that you can send all products to a single fulfillment center. You don’t get to pick the location, but you can simplify your shipping process by sending all products to the same location.
Although we don’t recommend using this option when you are first starting out, there are some advantages to placing your inventory in a single location:
- Convenience for Customers: If you sell an item that is often purchased in bulk quantities, Amazon might be sending products from a variety of fulfillment centers to fulfill the order. This way, you could improve the customer experience by making sure that deliveries are not split and arrive from a single shipment and from a single fulfillment center.
- Reduce Human Mistakes: Since Amazon will often ask you to send your inventory to 34 different fulfillment centers, every now and again, sellers will place the wrong shipping label on a box and send inventory to the wrong FBA fulfillment center. So, the inventory placement service can help you avoid this scenario.
But, naturally, there’s a cost for this:
- $0.30 for each standardsize unit
- $1.30 for each oversized unit
Even though we don’t recommend it, here’s how to change your inventory placement settings in your Seller Central, if you wanted to:
- Under Settings, click Fulfillment by Amazon.
- Under Inbound Settings, click Edit.
- Under Inventory Placement Option, click Inventory Placement Service.
- Click Update.
2. Don’t Lose Your Ship...ment!
Use a freight forwarder if you’re shipping internationally
Amazon has set the following conditions for sending inventory from their countries to them:
- “We will not serve as the importer of record or ultimate consignee on any of your imported freight.”
- “We will not be responsible for any duties, taxes or other charges associated with the importation of your freight.”
- “We will not provide POA or tax ID numbers to you.”
- “We will not provide brokerage or freight forwarding services.”
- “You are responsible for compliance and filing with all applicable other government agencies at the time of importation (such as FDA, TSCA, FWS).”
- “You must provide prepaid delivery to our fulfillment center.”
So you have got to take the lead here.
Speak with your supplier about how previous buyers have dealt with shipping from overseas. Generally, you have two options:
- a courier like DHL or FedEx for packages under 150 kg and less than $2,500 in stock value
- otherwise, a freight forwarding company is best.
A freight forwarding company can help you identify your logistical needs and provide valuable time and money savings by making the most of their prior shipping experience. If there are regulatory requirements around your product, getting a freight forwarding company involved is probably best.
Many sellers will use air freight on the first order, even though it might be more expensive, because it allows you to test the market sooner. Breaking even on your first batch to learn that there is a good market demand for your product is a win! But if you have the time to wait, shipping by sea is always cheaper. Do the math and make the right call for you.
In most cases, you will find that, in the past, your supplier has used a freight forwarding company that will have an office in that country (for example China) that can pick up your order and then send it to the US for you. This freight forwarding company will then send it to Amazon on your behalf. They deal with all of the customs issues etc so you don’t have too. Sure, you might pay a little more, but trust us, it’s worth it! These guys will also often work as your Quality Assurance (QA) checker as well, making sure the product is as it should be before you ship.
To learn more about this process, check out the book Shiррing Ѕоlutiоnѕ fоr Imроrtеrѕ frоm China.
If your supplier can recommend someone for shipping, then start there. If not, go back to Google. Many FBA sellers will not share their sources on such things like suppliers, designers and shipping companies. It’s all a part of the game to protect your competitive advantage.
Don’t get this far just to lose your margin in fees and taxes. Many sellers talk about sleepless nights of worry about overseas shipping by sea. As this is generally on big stock orders, we aren’t going to go into the lower level details here. It’s highly likely your first order is a small batch and is being sent via air. If you would like to read more about air freight, check out this great article: Air freight & courier from China – Basics, strategies & issues.