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Andreea Octavia Stancu February 11, 2020 4 Minutes
Categories: Ecommerce | Logistics and fullfilment
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In order to build a successful Amazon FBA business, it is essential to build a stable supply chain - from the manufacturer to the FBA warehouse - to avoid "out of stock events" and the resulting falling listings. Since a good 30% of Amazon's top sellers are still produced in China and very special challenges arise here in the context of shipping, we want to start our Amazon Logistics series with shipping to the Amazon FBA warehouse for products from China.

1. ship goods from China to an Amazon FBA warehouse 

Amazon FBA is a fulfillment service offered directly by Amazon, which is intended to relieve sellers. Shipping to the Amazon FBA warehouse takes place directly to one of Amazon's own fulfillment centers and can be stored there. Amazon employees are responsible for managing, packing, and shipping the goods, as well as handling all customer inquiries and product returns. 

Three options for shipping goods from China to an Amazon FBA warehouse

There are three different options for shipping goods from China. In the following, these three options are explained in more detail and their advantages and disadvantages are shown: 

1 - Direct shipping to Amazon FBA warehouse

As an overseas importer, this is the easiest and also the cheapest logistics method to transport the goods to an Amazon FBA warehouse. Under the direct shipping method, the supplier either arranges the delivery to the Amazon warehouse themselves or the shipment is made using an FBA carrier. If no forwarder is available due to local circumstances, shipping via a fulfillment service provider can also be considered, a so-called Amazon Prep service. 

The clear disadvantage of this option is that there is no need to inspect the goods yourself.

2 - Step 1: Shipping to Seller's Home; Step 2: Shipping to Amazon FBA Warehouse

Another option is to order the goods home first before shipping to the Amazon FBA warehouse. The biggest advantage is that the seller can check the goods and thus also the quality standard of the products themselves. If there are any quality issues, they can be fixed before the products are shipped to customers.

However, this shipping method is associated with additional transport costs. Due to the detour via the seller's home, additional shipping fees are incurred. Therefore, before deciding on this method, one should inform oneself about the nearest Amazon warehouse. In case the increased transportation costs do not significantly affect the product profit, the additional quality check brings a great advantage in contrast to direct shipping. 

3 - Step 1: Shipping via fulfillment service provider; Step 2: Shipping to Amazon FBA warehouse 

A fulfillment service provider is an independent third-party company that assists with handling import customs clearance, transporting goods from the supplier to the Amazon warehouse, performing product inspections, packaging, and labeling goods according to Amazon-specific requirements. 

Taking on these services involves additional costs and should be well considered. If there is uncertainty about correct labelling, either on the supplier side or in your own shipping, shipping via a fulfilment service provider can be a good choice.   

2. shipping methods for shipping from China to Amazon FBA warehouse

Once an Amazon seller has chosen one of the above shipping methods to ship goods to an Amazon FBA warehouse, they must also choose the shipping method for transport. There are usually three options available for this: 

  1. Express shipping 
  2. Sea freight 
  3. Air freight 

Express shipping to an Amazon FBA warehouse 

For the recipient of the goods, this is the simplest shipping method, as the arrival of the goods only needs to be acknowledged. The chosen express service provider takes care of all import procedures. There are many such express service providers worldwide, including UPS, Fedex and DHL.

Shipping with express service providers usually takes place within 4-7 days after production country China to Europe. However, express shipping is particularly suitable for shipping small quantities, for example, when ordering a product sample, as the total cost increases with the shipping volume. 

Air freight to an Amazon FBA warehouse

When using air freight as a shipping method, the shipping route usually takes a few days longer than express shipping. However, the total shipping cost is on average about 10%-20% lower than express shipping. 

As air freight shipments incur high import handling charges, regardless of the size and volume of the goods shipped, air freight shipping is particularly suitable for heavy goods (rule of thumb: over 500kg). In other cases, express shipping is the more suitable choice.

Sea freight to an Amazon FBA warehouse

Sea freight is one of the most complicated transport methods for importing and exporting goods, but also one of the most popular. Because the costs are low even for comparatively large quantities of goods. Therefore, especially products with low value but large volume are suitable for sea freight.  

There are two options to find a suitable ocean freight forwarder: An FBA specialized forwarder or a conventional forwarder. The difference lies in the overall shipping costs: When using an FBA forwarder, the shipping costs incurred can often be much lower, as large quantities of goods are delivered daily by the forwarder to the same Amazon warehouse.

Often, the Chinese supplier can help in choosing a suitable FBA forwarder, as they can draw on a wide repertoire of forwarders based on their experience with other sellers. 

The cost of sea freight varies depending on the high or low season. However, the cost of sea freight is usually about 80% lower than the cost of international express or air freight.   

In any case, the seller should ensure that the agreed shipping costs also include the land transport costs from the destination port to the Amazon warehouse in addition to the freight costs. Here, hidden costs may arise for the seller. 

3. packaging and labelling of the goods 

All goods shipped to an Amazon warehouse must pass Amazon's own Packaging requirements fulfill. The Seller must ensure that the goods reach the Amazon fulfillment centers undamaged, as it is liable for its goods until then. 

Packaging requirements from Amazon: 

Boxes shipped by the Seller to Amazon should not exceed a weight of 22 kg under any circumstances. The weight guidelines for boxes are strictly enforced by Amazon and could, in the worst case, result in the Seller's future shipments being blocked. 

Labeling requirements from Amazon: 

Proper labeling allows Amazon to more quickly track incoming inventory in the warehouse. Therefore, each shipping package sent to Amazon must have its own unique FBA shipping label. In addition, all incoming products require a scannable barcode (FNSKU). 

Therefore, every Seller should ensure that their shipping supplier or chosen fulfillment service provider implements Amazon's packaging requirements. 

4. track shipping from China to Amazon FBA 

When using large shipping service providers, tracking can often be accessed directly on the website using the customer's own shipment number. With smaller forwarders (or with airlines) that do not provide customers with their own tracking system, the status of the shipment can be queried at any time from the forwarding company itself. Alternatively, the expected time of arrival can be checked with the shipping company. 

You can find out more about Amazon FBA at the next Seller Barcamp.

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