There are more Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) Guides out there on the big wide web than you can shake a stick at. Literally.
But what there are not a lot of are Amazon FBA Guides on how to ship your goods to Amazon in the first place. This is clearly a crucial step in the proceedings, and one which requires some thought.
Happily, IO Scout prepare this article to help you navigate this journey.
Before we go much further, let’s look a little at Amazon FBA, and what it entails.
The FBA process is a no-brainer for those Amazon sellers who are selling copious amounts of products, every single day of the week. You don’t want to have to be dealing with all the packaging, posting, and customer queries every hour of the day.
To have a successful Amazon FBA business, you need to have happy customers. Happy customers who come back and buy more from you, again and again.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Organize how many units of products you plan to send to Amazon’s Fulfillment Centres
- Your products are installed within Amazon’s Fulfillment Centres for storage until they are sold
- Customers place their orders on Amazon’s Marketplace for your products
- FBA receive the orders
- FBA process the orders
- FBA pack the orders
- FBA arrange shipment of the orders
- And if any customer service questions, complaints or queries come up along the way, FBA deal with that, too.
- Oh, and FBA also handles customer returns
- Save yourself a lot of time - time that can be spent on other business activities, rather than wrapping parcels!
- Removal of stress over order issues
- Removal of stress over complaints from customers
- Prime delivery for your customers, meaning they receive their orders quicker
- Removal of stress over shipping and delivery issues
- No order errors
- Reassurance of Prime logo on your product listings
- Increased presence on Amazon, as FBA sellers are ranked higher, so your products are guaranteed to reach a wider audience
This all sounds great, but this service, of course, comes with a fee attached. And they can be substantial fees, indeed. It pays to investigate the FBA fees, so you can calculate an accurate profit margin.
Many merchants choose to set up their own Amazon store. An Amazon store is a visually rich platform where you can showcase your products, and create a lovely shopping experience for your customers. Due to the nature of Amazon stores, by having one you automatically enhance your consumers’ shopping pleasure, and drive more sales, as it makes it even easier to buy from you, and therefore, your brand.
Amazon Stores were launched back in 2017.
This is done in a few ways:
- Gives you a chance to get your brand out there to customers you haven’t reached before.
- Gives your existing customers a new look at your brand, and to tempt them into buying from you again.
- You can create slideshows of your products with images, text, and videos, and is wonderful for launching new products, and making a huge fuss about it!
- Heightens your SERPs within Amazon in an organic manner.
Why create your own Amazon Store?
The major factor that drives Amazon tycoons to set up their own Amazon Store is to promote more sales – sales with their existing customers, and sales with their brand new customers. If you make your Amazon Store a really appealing place to be, and a pleasant shopping experience, more sales will come. It’s a very accessible method to shop, and one which shoppers enjoy – so why not go ahead and create that very platform for them to enjoy – and buy from you?
Your Amazon Store is not restricted to desktops, either. The mobile shopping experience is second to none, so you can capture your prospective shoppers’ interest whether they are browsing your Amazon Store on their own computer, or mobile, or out and about.
Benefits of an Amazon Store
- Easy to set up, with customizable templates for you to simply follow, and populate with your products.
- Setting up an Amazon Store does not require any coding knowledge or skill whatsoever.
- Visually rich, Amazon Stores are a pleasant place for your customers to be – as they immerse themselves in your product images and videos.
- You can create more than one page of products, depending on your own unique business requirements.
- Your Amazon Store can be tailored exactly to your own specifications, making it unique to your business brand, and to stand out from the rest of the competition.
Amazon FBA Fees
Conducting your business through Amazon’s FBA process incurs the following fees:
- FBA Fees
These fees are dependent on the items’ size and weight, and takes place instead of you packaging and shipping the items yourself. Think small, and light!
- FBA Storage Fees
Your goods are warehoused within Amazon’s Fulfillment Centres, so these are the costs linked with this storage charge. Monthly or long-term storage are your options here
- Monthly Amazon FBA Fee
The monthly Amazon FBA fee relates to the Professional Sellers Account.
How much money should you invest in original Amazon inventory?
About 400-500 units of your items is the sweet spot.
Therefore, you have enough inventory to get going with your sales quickly, and fulfill orders. You should also have enough in the way of inventory to offer discounts and run promotions for special deals. Try and start at the lower end of unit price too, so you have enough capital to invest in this number of units.
Now we need to investigate how you are going to get your products to Amazon’s Fulfillment Centres in the first place. You can organize an Amazon shipping plan in advance, and there is no expiration date, so you can get your shipping plan set up and ready to go.
In your Amazon Seller Account portal, navigate to:
- Click Manage FBA Inventory on the dashboard
- Select the box to the left of your item, then click on Action on 1 Selected , which is located just above the item listing
- Click Send/Replenish Inventory
Note: There is a simpler route if the item is already listed as an FBA listing, and it’s simply a case of selecting the Send Inventory option.
- Select Create a New Shipping Plan option, and also Case-packed products . This relates to sending over and above 1 product unit to Amazon. Ensure all SKUs are noted in the one plan.
- Navigate to Continue to Shipping Plan
- Next, you’ll be asked to provide the amount of units and cases you intend to send to Amazon’s warehouses – then go ahead and click Continue
Preparation of your products
Arm yourself with plenty of polybags. This is because each item needs to be packed in an individual polybag (and must include the safety label so it can be visible, clearly)
A handy list of things to have in your Amazon shipment preparation area are:
- Printer for labelling products
- Printed labels
- Weighing scale
- Tape measure
- Parcel tape
- Opaque bags
- Bubble wrap
- Labels reading Sold as set and Ready to ship
- Amazon barcodes
- Packing materials
It pays dividends to be super-organized with your packing station, and to have everything you are going to need to hand.
- Label your products either by using your own label printer, or Amazon can do this for you (for a fee)
- Print Labels for this page
- Pop your printed labels on your products – then Continue
- Go ahead and Approve Shipment if you are satisfied with everything. Now is the time you can allocate a name to this shipment
- Go to Work on Shipment – and choose between UPS or FedEx
- Everything in One Box is what you want to select next
- Go ahead and weigh your package, and take measurements of height, depth and width to add into the portal. Confirm.
- Shipping Charges will work out your shipping costs at this stage
- Agree Terms & Conditions, then Accept Charges
- Print Box Labels as per Amazon’s guidelines.
- Complete Shipment
You do have the option to select Merchant in the preparation drop-down, if you are leaving it up to your supplier to prepare your products for you.
Amazon generates which FBA centres will be your destination FBA warehouse. This is automatic, and not in your control, I am afraid! It’s a common situation to have your shipment separated into several different warehouse locations.
Then your packages are ready to be sent to FedEx or UPS, depending on the courier method you have selected above.
You’ve reached the final hurdle, also known as the last-mile delivery. Ship either LTL (less than truckload) or SPD (small parcel delivery). A general rule to follow is that if you are shipping less than 2 pallets, SPD is probably the best option, which you can organize with Amazon.
Amazon will go ahead and confirm receipt via email – and the items will be included in your inventory.
To get your inventory to Amazon as quickly as possible, and therefore, get selling as quickly as possible, it’s important to:
- Ensure your products are packaged correctly, and as per Amazon’s guidelines
- Ensure your products are labelled correctly
- Ensure your boxes are labelled correctly
- Ensure your barcodes are readable
Any errors with packaging and labelling can result in your entire shipment sent back to you, costing you time and money.
You are able to track your delivery if you have chosen to use UPS as your courier service, and see the progress via your Amazon Seller Central account portal.
Next up, let’s look at how you can ship goods from China to Amazon FBA Warehouses.
Two ways to get your inventory from China to Amazon FBA
Like a lot of Amazon sellers, you may well source your inventory direct from China. And if you do so, you’ll be aware of a common communication barrier, which is why it is key to be 100% clear with your shipping requirements, and keep a detailed documentation of all documents and communications.
Option One – Direct from China to Amazon FBA
If you are confident with your products making their way directly from your supplier in China, to Amazon FBA, then you can certainly save a lot of time and money by going direct. There is obviously a risk factor involved in doing this, which is why you must be certain about your Chinese suppliers, and ensure they are aware of the FBA regulations and rules to adhere to. This includes following the strict Amazon packing and labelling guidelines. Going down this route does mean your products become Amazon product listings faster, and that means you can start selling faster to make sales faster!
The issues you may come across is that Amazon requires the inventory to be shipped to various FBA Fulfilment warehouses, not just one. Which can cause confusion! Bear in mind too that fees such as taxes and freight need to be cleared ad paid before the entire inventory arrives with Amazon.
Option Two – From China to 3PL (third-party logistics) to Amazon
Option two is undeniably the longer route, but it carries less risk. And one which would be sensible to follow when starting out with Amazon selling, or indeed, dealing with a new, unknown supplier in China.
This way includes your inventory in China traveling to your 3PL, then to Amazon, being checked en- route. Quality is inspected, as well as labelling and packaging, and there is much less risk that your inventory shipment would be refused when it arrives at Amazon FBA.
Amazon Inventory Placement Service
To avoid your shipments being dispatched to any number of Amazon FBA warehouses, you can choose the IPS (Inventory Placement Service). This ensures your entire shipment is sent to just the one receiving warehouse. A word of warning however: doing so means you cannot choose your FBA centre, and you may end up shipping your products from China to Florida, and as you can imagine, these costs are going to soar then!
Inventory Placement Service Fees
Standard Size (per item)
1lb or less
1 to 2lb
2lb and more
$0.40 + $0.10/lb over the first 2lb
Oversize (per item)
5lb or under
5lb or more
$1.30 + $0.20/lb above the first 2lb
You can use this guide above to work out the impending fees for the Inventory Placement Service, if you are considering using this service.
Who should you use to check your inventory?
You have a number of options, and you should definitely consider an independent verification source for your goods.
Before you commit to importing your precious inventory from China to Amazon FBA, there are some important details to take note of.
- Are safety regulations adhered to?
- Do the products have any patent restrictions?
- Have you checked the period of time that the offer from your supplier is valid from and to?
- Have you verified how the products have been manufactured?
- Have you ensured your products are verified with the Amazon Brand Registry Search?
- Have you arranged your own shipping line? It’s safer to do this, rather than rely on the supplier, as this is not likely to be your most cost-effective option, and the control is taken entirely out of your hands
- Have you organized freight insurance? Up to 50% of shipments are refused by carriers, leading to costly mistakes!
Important Shipping Documentation
- Telex release
This release refers to an email sent from the point of origin to the destination port which enables the carrier at destination to discharge your shipment without presenting the initial bill of lading.
- Bill of lading
This bill details the journey of your shipment from origin to its destination. The carrier issues a set of three initial bills of lading
- Commercial Invoice
The commercial invoice is required to ensure clear shipment through Customs in the U.S, and has to include the country or manufacture, the name and address of Importer of Record, as well as the name and address of the supplier (or manufacturer), a comprehensive list of the shipment in English, the number of units per item, and the value of each unit
- Packing List
The packing list must include the detailed information as per the commercial invoice
Ship Full Containers or LCL?
LCL stands for less than container loads. And it’s a factor to consider when organizing your shipment plan for your goods.
LCL can actually be more costly than shipping full containers, so it may be beneficial to consider shipping as a full container, as your price per unit may well be lower. You can work out whether this would work in your favour or not by checking the amount of cartons you plan to ship. If your planned cartons add up to more than 50% of the space in the shipping container (approximately twelve to fifteen cartons), it’s probable that it would be cheaper to send your goods in a full container.
One of the downsides of shipping by LCL is that your goods will be combined with others. Leading to a likelihood of the container being opened multiple times during inspection and customs, which inevitably adds delays, or potentially, damage, to your shipment’s journey.
Storage of your Goods
Amazon fees regarding storage in warehouses can easily spiral out of control, so this is something to keep a close eye on, before you end up with all your profits going to Amazon for storage fees!
As it stands, Amazon charge the following for storing your inventory in their warehouses:
Month of the year
Standard Sized Items
January through to September
October through to December
As well as these fees, you will be charged for long-term storage of your goods for a period that exceeds 180 days.
There is another way, however. You can use a third-party warehouse for the storage of your goods, which is an avenue worth exploring. Let’s check them out in a bit more detail.
Third party Warehouses for storage
You aren’t tied into a contract when you use a third-party warehouse for your storage needs, and can absolutely be used on a “as the need arises” basis. There are two advantages to this plan:
- Fees can be lower than Amazon FBA warehouses, and more stable
- You can use a ship-from address when organizing your shipment plan
Using a third-party warehouse ensures you have better control over your goods, because sometimes products don’t sell as well as you had hoped, and therefore you are charged less for keeping your products in a third-party warehouse.
Air Shipping vs. Sea Shipping
A quick note about air shipping versus sea shipping for your goods. In terms of time, air shipping is much faster than sea shipping. So, if you are shipping via the sea route, you need to be on top of your inventory requirements, and ensure you are stocked as necessary. Freight via the sea can take four to six weeks, on average.
Bear in mind that the following categories of goods cannot be shipped via air shipping:
- Public Health Risks
- Toxic Products
- Corrosive Products
- Chemical Medicines
- Magnetic Products
- Flammable Products including Perfume
Your decision here is impacted by your own business goals - is the impact on the environment part of your concern (shipping by sea generates a smaller carbon footprint than air), or does the monetary investment in air shipping vital to your business?
For larger shipments, it is generally more cost-efficient for merchants to ship via sea freight, whereas lesser shipments will pay more to ship by air. Consider the weight and size of your shipments, along with storage fees, and make comparisons. And, of course, ensure that you are abiding by Amazon’s FBA shipping guidelines.
The process of shipping your inventory to Amazon FBA may well be mind-boggling, but as long as you stay present and informed to the entire proceedings, and minimize your risks, it’ll soon become easier.
Partners in the industry that you can trust, including your suppliers, are paramount to success with your Amazon FBA selling business.