There are two options to choose from for shipping orders on Amazon: FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) and FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant).
By choosing FBA, you let Amazon handle your business’s logistical end including customer support. On the other hand, in FBM (or self-fulfillment), you have to manage product shipping, returns, refunds, and customer support all by yourself.
Both fulfillment methods have pros and cons – yet FBA is considerably more popular than FBM (for reasons we’ll explore later on in this blog).
If you’re wondering how to ship Amazon orders without making costly mistakes or risking an account suspension, keep reading.
From a seller’s perspective, Amazon is the marketplace of choice because of the enormous amounts of virtual footfall it receives each day and the ease of running an online business. List products in minutes, target potential buyers via paid ads, and before you know it, you’ve made your first sale.
The tricky part, however, is shipping orders to customers. Should you go for FBA, FBM, or both? To find the answer, let’s understand how each fulfillment method works.
Under the FBA program, Amazon will package and store your goods at an inventory fulfillment center and ship them to customers. It also manages returns and customer support on your behalf.
Opting for FBA saves you from considerable manual labor and automates a large segment of your business. Your products also become eligible for Prime free two-day shipping, opening the doors to millions of new customers.
Amazon recommends FBA, and so do we—it makes life easier and lets you focus on improving other aspects of your business, all for a nominal fee.
Once your inventory exits the manufacturer’s premises, you’ll need to have it transported to:
Some FBM sellers outsource their logistics to a 3PL. These service providers handle the storage and fulfillment part of your Amazon business (some even manage your inventory the moment it leaves the production site).
Managing inventory storage and shipping by yourself makes sense only if you have an existing logistics network to rely on, the cost of which is cheaper than FBA. Unfortunately, in most cases, it’s nigh impossible to compete with Amazon’s vast fulfillment network.
Shipping becomes even more complicated once you start selling temperature-sensitive or potentially hazardous goods. With all of that, keep in mind that when self-fulfilling orders, you’ll have to meet set standards. Failing to perform up to par will put a dent on your seller performance index and might lead to a suspension of seller privileges.
FBM sellers can market and sell their products to prime customers, but only if they manage to enroll for Seller Fulfilled Prime (SPM). SPM has an even higher benchmark than your average FBM. Take a look at some of the requirements:
Even if you’re confident in your ability to meet the criteria, you’ll have to join a waiting list as all new registrations are currently on hold. FBM allows for greater control over your inventory and could prove viable in certain circumstances e.g. shipping large-dimensional goods (such goods have significant FBA fees). Other than that, self-fulfillment is an option best forgone for FBA.
Before you start shipping orders, make sure to go through Amazon’s packaging and prep requirements; otherwise, you may end up incurring extra fees. Shipping via FBA is straightforward. Simply ask your freight forwarder (or 3PL service provider) to ship inventory to the nearest Amazon fulfillment center.
Periodically review your seller performance by opening the Performance tab in your Seller Central dashboard and clicking on Account Health.
If you intend to self-ship but don’t know where to start, use the services of a reliable carrier. Some well-known names in the US include USPS, UPS, DHL, and FedEx. Don’t forget to compare the prices and select the most affordable option.
You can also purchase shipping directly from Amazon using the ‘Buy Shipping’ feature. Go to the Orders tab and click on Manage Orders. From there, select Buy Shipping for orders you want Amazon to ship for you. Print shipping labels to complete the process.
To conclude, shipping orders via FBA makes much more sense than self-fulfillment. Another thing that makes a lot of sense is staying up to date with all things Amazon. Changes in Amazon seller policies, global issues affecting supply chains, new tools added to seller central, updated ranking strategies—there’s plenty to learn if you want to reach the top of your niche and cement your position.
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