Shipping Amazon products: A complete guide
Fulfilling delivery is the culmination of all your efforts as an e-commerce seller. It is important that you arrange for your products to be shipped in a quick and painless manner for the buyer.
Whether you’re an FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) seller forwarding your goods to the nearest Amazon fulfillment center or an FBM (Fulfillment By Merchant) seller handling delivery on your own, the manner of your shipping and delivery speaks volumes about you.
There is an endless range of freight forwarders, logistics companies, and shipping providers to the point that it’s become confusing. Which one you choose can have a deep impact on your business, no matter what type of seller you are, FBA or FBM. Some of these service providers will help your business take off, others will, in an ironic way, end up causing you to sink.
In this article, we’ll get into the shipping side of things. We’ll tackle how to choose the right freight service for shipping on Amazon for FBM sellers and FBA sellers alike. Hopefully, this will give you some insight into how to fulfill orders on the website.
Why do you need a good freight company?
Choosing a good freight service and making sure the terms are favorable are highly important. Micro-managing every aspect of your business, from sourcing and packaging to delivery fulfillment is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor. A good freight service company that handles shipping can help take away some of that burden off your shoulders.
Eventually, your business’s relationship with the freight company becomes an integral part of the business itself. This engenders trust and gives you leverage to negotiate for better terms, concessions and more. The most important quality of any good freight handler is reliability. After all, the most important thing is that your package gets to your chosen destination, safe right on time.
Additionally, there are the various bureaucratic and technical aspects to deal with. Filing paperwork, getting a permit, getting the right classifications etc. are all things that end up delaying your business. Good shipping companies are adept at handling such matters.
Different countries have different terms and regulations.These are things that you could be unaware of. A good freight company can be more than helpful in scenarios where you need clarification.
Exporting products to another country or another location might sound simple but is a tedious process. The bigger the bulk, the more hurdles you have to cross for approval. It is a world of certificates and permits. Having a reliable cargo partner can solve a lot of those problems for you.
Things you should know before choosing a freight forwarder
Why sea cargo is preferrable
Unless the orders are urgent and you can afford the overhead, there’s no place for air cargo in an Amazon delivery. Sea transport is preferable because it is highly cost-effective. The only setback is that it takes much longer than air cargo to reach the destination. There’s also much more paperwork involved.
Transparency in rates for Amazon Shipping
Be very cautious about freight companies that aren’t transparent about their real rates. Sure, some of them might offer special deals for beginners and first-time discounts, but you need to know if there are any major downsides to what they’re offering.
For eg: They could be a lot more expensive than you think and you might not find out until your discount runs out. Switching between freight forwarders can become tricky once you’ve already assigned a sizable bulk to one company, especially mid-cruise.
All of this is to say, do your homework. Be skeptical about deals that sound too good to be true. Explore hidden costs and see if the freight carrier you’ve chosen is charging you extra for unreasonable items. If you can, get in touch with others who have worked with the company and find out what their experience was like.
Remember, carrying charges aren’t the only expenses that come with shipping. There are other extra costs such as delivery taxes, border taxes, custom charges, weight levies etc.
This is why you shouldn’t simply go off of the website’s standard price quote. Request a copy of the standard invoice and take a look at all the other possible charges. Don’t be afraid to ask and be persistent until you get satisfactory answers. After all, you’re the one paying for the transport and it’s your inventory that’s on the line here.
Verification is the very first step you need to take before you even begin considering a freight forwarder. Run a background check. Make sure they have legitimate documents proving their existence. But don’t stop there. Ask around on social media. Find a reliable contact who has worked with them before. If anything seems off or sketchy about the company, don’t proceed any further until you have full clarification.
Words like global, international, everywhere are commonly used in an exaggerated sense. They don’t always literally mean every country in the world. That would be an incredible claim.
Once you’ve ascertained the company’s legitimacy, the logical next step is to find out the countries they cover. Check and see if your destination is included in the list. All of this information should be readily available and accessible from the company’s website itself.
Some shipping carriers will only drop your inventory at the port and go no further. Others offer special door-to-door delivery services.
If it’s a port-to-port service, then you’ll have to arrange for a paid ground transport service to fulfill the delivery. This could be a local agency, a contact in the country or someone else. The point is, this will cost you extra.
Insurance is yet another basic requirement that any decent shipping company offers. Standard insurance is there to cover any loss or damage incurred in the course of transporting goods. You have to know if there are any special options for delicate products that are prone to damage or time-sensitive, perishable goods.
For example: a complicated piece of machinery, antique items like vases, flower pots, glass cases, laptops, etc.
Make sure you ask about items that are exempt from the insurance liability. You’d be surprised how many sellers have been unable to claim compensation on such grounds.
Trade organization memberships
Trade association memberships lend credibility to the freight carriage provider. It builds trust and indicates years of experience and service in the industry. If the shipping company you’re looking up is part of a well-known and reputable network, then you might not have to look for further checks.
This is because any freight carrier organization of repute has some standard requirements that members fulfill. They include financial stability, integrity, legal soundness and more. No company becomes a member of associations like WCA without having first passed these qualitative checkpoints.
In other words, if you’re considering a freight carrier company that belongs to a reputable organization, then half your work is already done for you. You can count on them to handle your inventory with due professionalism and care.
Employee network and reach
Make sure you ask whether the company has agents working in the destination. Having contacts who work with the freight forwarding company itself can make matters far more easier for you. If anything unpredictable happens, such as a delay in arrival or a misunderstanding between authorities, you’ll have someone to intervene and clear things up. Most importantly, you’ll have someone to protect and take care of your shipment.
Enquire about communication
Make sure you inquire about how communication works. Find out who you need to contact during various phases. Also ensure they have a tracking system in place that works. If you’ll get automatic email notifications regularly, that’s ideal.
On a side note, try to find a company where you can get in touch with a real customer care executive fairly quickly. Try making a few calls when you’re researching the company. If they constantly redirect your calls or put you on hold with automated messages, then that’s not a good sign.
Another red flag is when the company provides online text boxes instead of actual email addresses on the website. These contact forms and queries are rarely read, to be honest. So when you come across a company that heavily relies on them to maintain a facade of good customer service, know that it’s time to jump ship (so to speak).
You’re better off with a moderately successful shipping company that offers decent customer service, than a giant corporate shipping magnate that barely pays attention to your calls.
Keep track of your package
Make sure you know what kind of tracking software you’ll be using and whether you’ll get live updates. A standardized tracking system should include a detailed report of your package and everything it entails. Eg: purchase order management, proof of delivery etc.
Let’s say the shipping company also carries out road transport and delivery once the package hits the ground. In that case, make sure their vehicles are immune to strikes and other such national issues. This is a big problem when the company relies heavily on public transport for private packages.
Make sure you ask if the company has prior experience in handling your product type before. You can rest assured if their client base includes customers who are in the same business as yours. This is only necessary when the package has a set of its own requirements and standards of safety. It would do well to keep the company updated on such issues, if there are any.
Get to know whether the shipping company will also take care of branded packaging or if it’s entirely up to you. If possible, look at a few pictures of packages they are shipping and see whether it’s up to your taste.
Be well-informed about geopolitics
It is vital that you stay well-aware about any issues in the destination country that can affect your package. This could be anything from worker strikes to political turmoil.
In addition to helping you plan well ahead, it is also a way of testing the staff to see how well-informed and thorough they are.
Learn the lingo
Get familiar with the jargon and common terms that you need to use when you deal with shipping operatives. No matter what line of business you’re in, you’ll need this skill when it comes to communicating and staying updated on packages.
We’ve covered Amazon FBA at length in some of the previous lessons. Here, we’ll give you a general overview on how to ship your inventory to the Amazon Warehouse.
Step By Step Guide To Shipping To An Amazon Warehouse
- First things first. Login to your Amazon Seller account and go to the dashboard. Click on Inventory > Manage FBA inventory. If you’ve already listed your product as an FBA listing, you need only select Send Inventory.
On the other hand, if you haven’t made the switch from FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) to FBA yet, you’ll be prompted to do so before you proceed.
- Select Send Inventory > Create a New Shipping Plan (In the next page). Since you’re sending more than one unit, also click on ‘Case-packed products’.
- The next thing to do is “Continue to shipping plan” > Units per Case (Here, enter the number of units you’re sending). Also specify the number of cases. Now click continue.
- So far, the website aspect of it is complete. Now you need to prepare your products and package them. Next, you can either print labels from the site and place them on your products on your own or have Amazon do them for you, for a fee. If everything is in order, click Approve Shipment. Now select Work on Shipment. The next page is where you decide which courier service you want to use. (FedEx or UPS).
- Once you’ve done that, Click on the drop down box called Shipment Packing > Everything in One Box. Make sure you get the weight and measurements for your package right before you input them. Once you do that and ensure nothing is amiss, hit confirm.
- Next, click on Shipping charges> Calculate. You’ll see how much it costs based on the courier service you use.
- Once you agree to terms and conditions, click on Accept charges. If you do decide to cancel the shipment, you can do so in the next 24 hours. After that, you’ll be charged for the same amount on your Amazon Seller account. So be careful before you confirm anything.
- The final few finishing touches involve printing box labels from the site. You have to download them, print it out and place it on any side of the box so that it’s fully visible. Finally, once you’ve labeled the box, click complete shipment and deliver the package to your chosen local courier outlet, within the stipulated time.
Amazon keeps you notified when the package arrives and will add them to your inventory, which you can check from the seller dashboard.
A few things to note:
- Make sure you place the labels on the side of the box. They need to be clear, accurate and highly visible.
- The bill of lading you provide to the courier service should include your Amazon ID, the shipment ID, seller’s name, address and the name of your carrier.
- Remember that a mislabeled package can be lost. An unlabeled one might very well be rejected.
- Try to get a barcode scanner to test whether the code is readable or not. Make sure the surface where you place the label isn’t squashed or wrinkled in any way. This might hinder employees trying to scan the code.
- If this is your first time, you don’t have to do it alone. Feel free to get in touch with regular Amazon FBA sellers and get as much help as possible. .
Ideally, the goal is to narrow down a list of reliable shipping service providers you like. If you’re finding it difficult to manage expectations, try a social media group or forum where you can freely ask someone more experienced for advice or opinion.