I thought I’d sneak this post in as I’ve had a few friends that have got stuck when creating an FBA import shipment. This step fits in between getting your product manufactured and booking in the freight company. An FBA shipment is basically your way of lodging paperwork with Amazon identifying exactly what, when and how you are shipping items to the FBA warehouse. You can create one of these by going to the “Manage FBA Inventory” option under the main “Inventory” drop down menu.

Import Shipment Labelling

FBA Import Shipment

There are a couple of key decisions to make when creating a shipment. The first one is pretty easy; do I want to label the product or do I get amazon to? In my case, I chose to label the product myself given that I had purchased the UPC code. My manufacturer was more than happy to print and stick the barcode labels for free. I recommend going down this path as Amazon say they will charge for labelling, and I’m going to guess the charges would be somewhat unreasonable.

Import Shipment FBA Warehouse Selection

The second however gets complicated; do I want to ship to the FBA warehouse or warehouses Amazon allocates or do I want to choose my own? This is a bit of an interesting one and it is something you might try chopping and changing until you find a system that works for you. You will find that at times when you create a shipment, Amazon will request that you send your stock to a couple of different warehouses. These are usually warehouses that best suit Amazon’s distribution of the product. However, shipping to multiple locations can be a pain. There are a couple of ways around this.

  1. Enable the “Inventory Placement Service”. When you enable this service and create a shipment, Amazon will only give you the ship to location of one FBA warehouse where you can send the entire order. Note that there is a fee for this service. In order to activate this option, you will have to go the “Fulfilment by Amazon” tab under the “settings” menu. Here you will see a section called “Inbound Settings”. Click in to edit this section and choose the “Inventory Placement Service” tick box under the “Inventory Placement Option” section.
  2. Enable the “Premium Placement Service”. This is the method I used for my first shipment. It is the easiest but is quite expensive! Not only does this option let you ship to the one FBA warehouse but it also lets you choose which warehouse you ship it to. So you can pick a warehouse close to the port your ship will be docking at. Again, do not sign up for this without checking out the fees involved. In order to activate this option, you will have to email seller support by creating a case log and request this service. It will take 2 to 3 weeks to set up.

When deciding between going with the standard ship to locations or the two alternative options above, make sure you consider the additional fees involved as they can be quite steep. A painful lesson I learnt after my first shipment was that the fees for either option are charged in a one off lump sum about a fortnight after the stock arrives at the warehouse. I was initially operating under the premise that the fees would be charged per product as they were sold, so you can imagine my shock when I got hit with a massive bill!

When I did the sums, it worked out that he most cost effective way was to use the default FBA warehouses that Amazon assigned to me. Most good freight forwarders can pick up at one location and ship to multiple without too much trouble. I have avoided any sort of placement service option for my second shipment. The numbers work out better. Worth running the numbers yourself though as it largely comes down to your product weight, or dimensional weight (a tricky metric Amazon like to use), which Amazon use to calculate the service fees. Make sure you read up on dimensional weight on the Amazon website. It could mean the difference between a $700 and $1,100 fee… ouch! My take on it is that any premium kind of service you sign up for will likely be less cost effective but more convenient… makes sense right?

Those are the big decision when it comes to creating a FBA shipment. So take your time, do the sums and get all your details in. As soon as the shipment has been created, it is time to tackle the logistics side of things.