The Seller Abroad

Using FBA to sell on Amazon from abroad… can't be that hard!

Shipping Clarified

I’ve had a few questions come through about shipping and quality control. In this post I’ll clarify how the shipping part works and what quality control measures you can take.

One thing you have to get used to, when dealing with shipping, is playing the middle man. This can be quite a frustrating experience when emailing across language barriers and dealing with logistics related terms that are super confusing. Especially so when you are in a different time zone where every sent email takes a day to receive a response and calling is not a great option. So be prepared for a potentially emotional experience!

Shipping - Freight ForwarderShipping – Freight Forwarder

I’ve mentioned this before but first of all, to make things easy, I highly recommend using the one freight forwarder for the entire sea/air and land freight journey. This means you have one point of contact for all things freight. If you choose a competent freight forwarder, they will hold your hand through the process, making dealing with all the freight jargon that little bit easier. When getting a quote, ensure you get a quote from FOB at the port in China all the way through to delivery to the FBA warehouse/s. Also ensure you ask the freight forwarder to include customs brokerage in their quote.

Shipping – Manufacturer

Negotiate FOB (Free On Board) along with your manufactured price. This is usually offered for free but if it isn’t, make sure you play hardball to get it for free. FOB means the manufacturer covers all costs to get the freight loaded on the ship. This is usually cheaper to do with the manufacturer than the freight forwarder.

Shipping – Play Middle Man

You will have to play middle man as mentioned at the very top of this post. You will have to inform the freight forwarder when the product is ready for shipment and pass on the freight forwarder’s Chinese agent’s contact to the manufacturer. Likewise, inform the freight forwarder of the contact at the manufacturers. This will ensure smoothest coordination.

Shipping – Quality Control

This part is a bit tricky. In general, you can negotiate to pay 50% of cost to manufacture when production begins and 50% once goods are completed. There are also escrow options (offered via Alibaba), which is a third party that holds on to the money until goods are confirmed shipped. These are options to avoid being scammed. With regards to quality control, ensure your manufacturer provides photos and videos of the finished product. You should review images of both packed and unpacked product. Unfortunately that’s about as far as budget conscious quality control goes. You can go a step further and enlist the help of a third party pre-shipment inspection company such as China Inspection Services. This can get quite expensive though. Freight forwarders generally will not do quality inspections for you. I did not use a pre-shipment inspection services as it wasn’t in my budget to do so. Other steps you can take to mitigate quality control risk is to inspect samples and test how far the manufacturer wants your business by asking for additional features such as labelled packaging and so forth prior to placing an order. The way I figure, these manufacturers want repeat business and so will try to do the right thing by you. Another factor to take into account is that when selecting your final manufacturer, make sure they have a good selling history (3 years or more) on Alibaba or Aliexpress. At least this way you know they are somewhat reliable. It was way too expensive to ship product to the US via Australia, so inspecting the product myself was definitely not an option!

Post Highlights for shipping clarified

  • Be prepared to be the middle man for most communications
  • Use a single freight forwarder for the entire journey
  • Ensure your manufacturer provides FOB service as part of their package
  • Use manufacturers with a good track record to mitigate quality control risks


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  1. James


    Thanks for the post, it really helped. I had one question about paying suppliers, as most of them want their money is US Dollars, how did you go about converting this from AUD?

    • thesellerabroad

      Hi James,

      To tackle this problem, I opened an Australian based USD account where I store USD to pay suppliers. I used a good conversion website to get a good rate on AUD to USD conversion. This seemed to work out better than letting my bank do the converting.

  2. Siobhan


    Thanks for the post, it was what I was looking for, simple clarification of the steps.

    You say you didn’t use an inspection company but I see you link to one in the post – where these recommended to you by someone who has used them?

    I have also seen people talking about Trigo for preinspection, they may be cheaper if you are considering doing this in the future…

    • thesellerabroad

      Hi Siobhan, not a problem at all. The company I had a link to was just an example. I have no connection to them and they have not been recommended to me. I had a quick look to try give people an example of the type of company that can be used and this one popped up.

      Cheers for your suggestion. I encourage everyone to share information as that way everybody wins. I will consider looking at a pre-inspection service as the business becomes more profitable. I will have a look into Trigo. Thanks for sharing mate!

  3. I will vouch for Trigo. They are excellent (and cheap). $100 and you can pay with Paypal.

    Also, in my experience (and with all my suppliers), only a 30% deposit is required before the manufacturer will begin production. I would definitely try to negotiate if they are charging you 50% upfront.

    • thesellerabroad

      Hey Josh, cheers for the input. Looks like Trigo would be a good option to look into on the next shipment. Thanks for the heads up on the deposit too. I’m sure that is super helpful for people in negotiation at the moment. I’ll have to take that on board for my next order for sure!

      I have no experience using an inspection company and have a couple of further questions if you are willing to share your experience. Does Trigo go to the manufacturer’s location to inspect the finished product? What sort of report do they produce upon inspection?

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