Avoid Catastrophic Loss with this Straightforward Step-by-Step Guide
The easiest, safest, and most cost-effective way to ship your goods from China to Amazon FBA is to work with a reputable China freight forwarder with experience in Amazon FBA. Working with a reputable China-side freight forwarder represents significant savings compared to a company based in your final destination. Nothing beats boots on the ground when doing business in China.
As the preferred China freight forwarder for high-growth e-commerce brands, we’ve created this detailed step-by-step guide. Here’s what you’ll learn in this article
There is a significant increase in the shipping cost after the Coronovirus has impacted China and other countries, especially air freight. The air freight has increased more than three times its regular rate during the peak of the spread of the pandemic due to the high demand for products that are being used for the pandemic. At the moment, air rates are still high, especially for air express shipments.
The pandemic has affected the workforce of different countries. Different departments are greatly affected as workers are transitioning to a skeletal workforce model; this has affected the overall supply chain and has increased the transit time to up to two weeks.
The waiting time for both air and sea is longer to get a space for a shipment, this is caused by multiple factors, such as lesser vessels and manpower available. Shipping terminals all over the world are significantly more congested, and due to the reduced number of workers, the congestion does not get better.
In addition to the increase in the shipping cost and transit time, the shipping routes are also affected by the pandemic. Due to less manpower, some logistic hubs and terminals are forced to temporarily stop their operations resulting in rerouting of shipments to the nearest available terminal or hub.
We strongly suggest speaking with our shipping team as early as possible, if you are planning on shipping to Amazon from China. We are eager to help plan ways that ensure your Amazon inventory is not impacted by the COVID-19 delays.
Click the link below to share your details and someone from our shipping department will reach out to you in less than one day.
Nothing can be more devastating to importers than their cash flow drying up even before their goods have reached Amazon. That is why knowing the estimated cost for the shipping is needed to make sure that the financial side will be taken care of. Below are examples of some costs that are frequently overlooked by importers:
To avoid having your goods stranded, it’s imperative you know the full costs of getting your goods to Amazon FBA BEFORE you place your order with your supplier.
Not sure how to calculate your landed costs? Check out our product validation guide for details.
There are few professional importers who source their products on Alibaba who share their knowledge through groups on the internet. They share tips to guide those who are just planning to start with importing from China and selling on Amazon’s platform. There are more than a few horror stories from beginners who have gone that route.
We’re not saying that you can’t find reputable suppliers on Alibaba, but there are some red flags to watch for:
Typically, we recommend first-time importers reach out to sourcing companies themselves, link to guide.
But high-growth e-commerce brands on Amazon know it’s best to leave product sourcing to experts on the ground in China, like a reputable China sourcing company.
There are numerous reasons Amazon importers may choose not to source goods directly from the manufacturers. Some large manufacturers are simply too big to deal with young companies. And sometimes intermediaries, such as trading companies, are simply able to secure better deals. All thanks to their knowledge of local customs and negotiation tactics.
Even when you are sourcing yourself, it’s best to obtain a second China sourcing quote from a China sourcing agent. At Guided Imports, our agents are well-versed in sourcing in China, speak the same language as the suppliers, and are after the quality of the products that the buyer is requesting. Getting a quote from Guided Imports typically takes 3-business days with no upfront sourcing cost.
Have you heard about the importer who ordered hair brushes from China and got a box of feathers and broken brush handles instead? Jump to link to video
No matter where you’re importing from, but especially when working with China, it’s essential you obtain product samples BEFORE signing on the dotted line with your supplier
Chinese factories tend to do a very good job of making buyers feel the products they are capable of making are enough to meet the expectations of the buyers quality standards. When in reality, quality is objective, and almost always different from a Chinese supplier and a Western buyer.
Another reason product samples are important due to miscommunication due to language barriers. If a feature, material, specification or requirement is miscommunicated, the only way of ensuring that the error gets cleared up is by inspecting pre-production samples, prior to placing an order.
When working with a new supplier, never make full payment for goods upfront, unless it’s for product samples. In China, the usual practice for most common goods is 30% down payment and 70% upon the completion of the production. The only exception for this is for products with a very short lead-time, such as off-the-shelf goods.
In an effort to mitigate risks, buyers generally want to negotiate for the least amount of money for the initial payment, in order to place more focus on quality control and inspection during and after the production, but before the full payment is made.
There’s no quicker way to have your Amazon selling privileges revoked than by sending defective products to Amazon FBA and getting reported by the end customers. Regardless how good and long your relationship with the supplier is, manufacturing errors are inevitable. It is imperative that you conduct a quality control inspection before shipping your goods to Amazon FBA.
Thankfully, it’s relatively inexpensive to work with a reputable China Quality Inspection company.
Remember that your supplier’s primary business is the manufacturing of goods. They are not keeping up to date with Amazon’s rigorous packaging, labeling, shipment and document requirements. What they know could be just what they’ve done for other clients which doesn’t necessarily mean the same for every buyer.
In addition, suppliers might not be fully aware of the importing requirements of your goods. You can leave the manufacturing side to the supplier, but never them to manage your shipping and logistics.
Suppose you are an importing veteran with a long track record of importing safely from China. In that case, you might choose to arrange shipment and logistic details yourself, but it could be time-consuming and complicated. Not to mention the different people that you need to talk to to arrange each shipment’s leg.
That’s why high-growth e-commerce brands choose to work with a reputable China freight forwarder or Chine 3rd party logistics company like Guided Imports.
Even if you have an established shipping or logistics partner, we hope you’ll at least get a quote as we’re always eager to add another high-growth e-commerce brand to our client roster.
The role of a customs broker is to ensure your goods meet government export and import requirements. For example, this can be crucially important with certain types of goods being shipped from China, such as food and drugs that need numerous paperwork and FDA certification.
Failure to understand and meet these obligations can mean your products never leave China, or worse, are seized by customs in your destination country. That’s why experienced Amazon importers typically contract a reputable China Customs Broker who is also intimately aware of the unique importing requirements in both the United States and Europe.
As an American and European managed company based in China, our Customs Brokerage Service team are experts in fulfilling all the necessary export and import requirements for Amazon sellers, including:
If you’re confused or just unsure about what export or import requirements you need to make, submit a quote and our team will respond within 1 business day.
Through the years, the biggest mistake we see new Amazon FBA importers make when working with China is underestimating the time required to get the goods shipped to Amazon. We also hear from experienced importers who are worried that their Amazon inventory will reach zero even before they can replenish their stock.
Unless you’re fully aware of the following, it’s very likely that your products will arrive later that you have wished.
We often hear from desperate Amazon importers requesting we help speed up their production, but by then it’s too late. That’s why we recommend you plan ahead, and if you’re unsure about any of the above, work with a reputable China 3rd Party Logistics company to get a realistic timeline before you start production. Remember, it is never too early to plan your shipment. Even if you are just starting to source a product, share your details with us, and we will be happy to guide you through the shipping process while you’re planning an order.
We’ve already mentioned how Chinese Holidays can affect your available shipping routes and timing, but it can also affect the following:
China is known for its long holiday breaks. So it’s best to know when China celebrates their holidays to avoid delays in your production or shipments.
Although China is known to celebrate their New Year based on the lunar calendar, the New Year’s Day based on the Gregorian calendar is also considered as a regular holiday. People will usually have 3-days off during this holiday.
The Chinese New Year or also known as the Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. People in China enjoy at least a week’s holiday to have reunions with their families. Factory workers usually take advantage of this holiday to go back to their hometowns and spend time with their families. Most manufacturers will have at least ten days off to give way for this holiday. Others would even last for a month. The Chinese New Year usually falls in either January or February.
Tomb-sweeping day is a day for the people in China to worship their ancestors. It’s usually a day off work for the workers.
Like other countries, China also celebrates Labor Day on the first day of May. However, China can celebrate it longer compared to other countries. For instance, China celebrated May Day in 2020 for 5 days.
The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the famous cultural festivals in China. People in China enjoy a 3-day holiday during this time. This holiday usually falls in June.
The Moon Festival or also known as the Mooncake Festival is considered as one of the most important holidays in China. People usually enjoy at least 3-days off during the moon festival. This holiday is close to the National Day as it usually falls in September. For 2020, the Mid-Autumn Festival is going to be the same day as the Golden Week.
The National Day is one of China’s longest holidays as it’s a week-long non-working holiday for its people. National Day is celebrated annually on October 1st.
Whether you’re new to shipping from China to an Amazon FBA warehouse or you are an established e-commerce company like many of our customers, this step-by-step guide is a handy resource to keep bookmarked. (once this gets good traffic, we should make a checklist lead magnet and add folks to list)
Although shipping is on the latter part of the supply chain, it shouldn’t be taken into the back seat. The first decision you will need to make when shipping your goods to Amazon FBA is to select a shipping method. This will give you the idea on how long the transit will take as well as the shipping cost. Some sellers lost their ability to earn more profit simply because they failed to decide on the onset of their sourcing which shipping method is suitable for them.
Detailing every last consideration when choosing how to ship from China to the US, or Europe, is beyond the scope of this article. (But we’ve linked to a guide, here it is again in case you missed it.)
But the primary consideration you’ll need to make is what type of shipping service to use, and your options are:
Let’s cover the 3 most common, when you’d want to use them, as well as a few of their advantages and disadvantages
Express shipping from China to Amazon FBA is ideal for shipments with volume and gross weight of under 1 CBM and 200 kilograms respectively. The chargeable weight is either the gross weight or the volume weight, whichever is higher. The formula used to calculate the volume weight (using the metric system) is the total CBM divided by 5000.
Typically, the suppliers can get a reasonable rate for shipments of this size from their local freight forwarders. However, it may be advantageous to get a quote from your freight forwarder if you already have an established relationship in China in case a problem arises during the transit.
Air Express is the fastest way to get your goods shipped to Amazon FBA. However, the time saved comes with a premium. Pre-COVID, the cost of air express to the US will range around $4 to $6 per kilogram for a general cargo. This cost has increased to more than 100% as of the time of this writing.
Shipping using express courier services is advantageous because it gets your goods directly to Amazon and comes with some risks. There are some instances when the shipment will require additional requirements, for example, a form that needs to be filed. If mishandled, the shipment can be returned back to China. All expenses that will be incurred is going to be shouldered by the buyer. That is why finding a reputable freight forwarder is highly recommended, as they can ensure all compliance is met before shipping.
Using air freight from China is the best option when your cargo’s weight is more than 200 kilograms and is more than 2 CBM. It’s recommended that you always use a freight forwarder based in China when shipping air freight, as they will be able to leverage their high-volume rates to get you a much lower cost than your supplier or if you tried to arrange the shipment yourself.
Air freight’s advantage is that it is much faster than sea freight and may even be cheaper than a Sea LCL shipment for small-volume shipments. The average transit time for air freight is within 5 to 9 days after the departure from China.
The per kilogram rate of air freight is usually cheaper than air express. Aside from that, the factor used to compute the volume weight is higher, which means that it’s cheaper to ship goods that are charged with the volume weight compared to air express. The volume weight can be computed as the total CBM divided by 6000.
Although air freight can usually be much cheaper than the air express, there could be times too when it might cost more. So it’s best to check with your freight forwarder to understand what the best option is for you.
Another disadvantage is that there are some types of products that are not allowed to ship using air freight such as aerosol cans or sprays, dry ice, and Lithium batteries. If in doubt, it’s best to check with your freight forwarder if your product is allowed to be shipped via air if you are planning to use this method.
Shipping sea freight from China is typically the best option when the good’s volume is at least 2 CBM or weighs 400kg or more.
There are two common options when shipping via ocean freight from China; Less than Container load (LCL) and Full Container Load (FCL). The volume will dictate which of the two options are more suitable for your shipment.
The LCL shipment is typically up to 3 times more expensive per cubic meter than FCL. However, it’s the best option for cargoes that are less than 14 CBM. FCL might be more relevant to use if the cargo is bigger than the said volume, even if your goods do not fill the entire container.
The main advantage of sea freight is that it is much cheaper than air express or air freight from China, given if the cargo meets the suggested minimum volume and weight of 2CBM and 400 kilograms. Aside from the cost, sea freight can usually transport the cargo that cannot be shipped using the air method.
The transit time is the trade-off of being a cheaper option to air shipment. So it is recommended to plan and add some buffer on the logistics to avoid any interruption on your supply chain.
Once you’ve given some consideration on the best method to ship your goods, it’s time to contact a reputable Freight Forwarder based in China to obtain a quote. You can also consult your freight forwarder for available options if you are unsure of which method to use.
Shipping is something that you should not leave in the hands of your supplier. The supplier’s business is to produce goods and help you export them from China. They typically will lack the detailed knowledge of your destination country’s importing requirements, Amazon FBA labeling requirements, etc.
Plus, a freight forwarder is in the business of shipping goods, so they will be able to obtain you much better shipping rates than your supplier, or if you tried to arrange shipment yourself.
Other advantages of using a China-based freight forwarder includes communicating directly with your supplier which will save you time especially when there’s a huge time zone difference. Having your freight forwarder in China will give you more assurance that the goods will be leaving the county with proper shipping labels and in good condition.
It’s important to remember that when you ship goods directly from China to Amazon FBA, you will not have the opportunity to inspect the quality of the goods before they arrive at Amazon’s door.
To add an extra layer of protection, we recommend that you arrange a quality control inspection while your goods are still in the factory. Use a reputable China Quality Inspection company to conduct Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) to ensure the products have been produced to your and Amazon’s standards.
Fortunately, these services are relatively inexpensive in China. The best companies even offer the option to buy China quality control services with the simple click of a button and your goods can be inspected in as little as 24 hours after the booking has been made.
As an Amazon Seller, it is recommended that you are always up to date on any changes so it’s best to always refer to Amazon’s website for the list of requirements.
The Amazon FBA warehouse will be notified to expect your goods after creating the shipping plan. The next step is to have your goods packaged to Amazon’s standards.
Typically, factories can follow simple instructions for putting labels on the product’s packaging. Having a quality control inspection can help you check whether the factory labeled everything correctly.
There are times when a more complicated process for FBA labeling is needed such as having multiple SKUs for different varieties or several products needing kitting. A better option for these instances is to find service providers who can do FBA prep.
First, you’ll want to package your goods to make sure that they will not be damaged during the transport. This can be as simple as using an OPP/polybag or even using bubble wrap to protect fragile items. Here’s a list of the basic requirements that needs to be checked when shipping to Amazon:
In addition to the list above, it’s also vital for you to consider the packaging size and weight as Amazon imposes additional fees for oversized and overweight items.
Once your products are individually packaged, it’s time to plan the master carton and outer packaging. Below is a list of Amazon’s packaging requirements for the master carton:
Amazon changes their policies and requirements from time to time so it’s best to always check their website for the most updated information.
A pallet is a platform that is commonly used in transporting multiple cartons or commercial goods. It allows lifting equipment such as forklifts to lift and transport goods in short distances such as loading and unloading from containers. It makes it easier to move multiple cartons at once. Pallets are usually made of either wood or plastic.
Palletized cartons are not required in all shipments to Amazon FBA warehouses. So it is best to know when you would need pallets for your shipment.
Amazon FBA warehouses have a list of requirements for the pallets that can be used for shipments going to their warehouses. For instance, Amazon US accepts wooden pallets 40″ by 48″ with GMA Standard B Grade (or higher). So make sure to check the most updated list through the Seller Central to avoid shipments to be rejected.
When shipping, regardless of the method, the volume and the weight of the shipment must be considered. Pallets are heavy and bulky, making them expensive to ship. In an effort to help our customers save costs in shipping, we often suggest that we arrange the palletization once they have reached the destination. This can save you from paying more on the shipping fee, and we recommend considering this option anytime you are planning to add pallets to your shipment.
Although it is best to palletize the shipments upon arrival in the destination country, the exemption would be for extremely fragile items such as ceramic plates and glass products made of borosilicate material. FCL shipments transport the whole container to the final destination. So it’s cost-efficient to palletize the goods in China, and then load the pallets into a container.
It is important to label the cartons correctly to avoid delays or rejected goods by Amazon FBA. Below are the basic FBA preparations needed for general cargo.
You now understand that there are a lot of unique requirements to be compliant with Amazon’s FBA policies and regulations for shipping your goods to their warehouse.
Regardless of the shipping method, it’s imperative you conduct a China Quality Inspection (Container Loading Check Inspection.) Why? Because the absolute worst thing that can happen is to go to all this trouble, and then have your goods delayed or rejected by Amazon for failure to meet appropriate packaging and labeling requirements. Fortunately, like a Pre-shipment Inspection, this can be purchased inexpensively online and be conducted in as little as 24 hours after the booking has been made.
In general, shipping your goods to Amazon will change hands many times, especially for regular cargo shipments such as air and sea freight. Below is a handling map for a regular LCL and air freight:
Your goods are at risk of being damaged as accidents do happen. When your goods are damaged, more often than not, getting compensation will be difficult. Given all you’ve invested, it’s simply not worth the risk to ship your goods without China freight insurance.
Getting freight insurance can get your goods 100% insured from the moment they leave your supplier until they arrive at Amazon FBA depending on the insurance coverage. It is incredibly affordable and offers peace of mind.
Now that your goods are insured against damage, it’s time to get your shipping documents in order, .and we always recommend you use a qualified Customs Broker to avoid delays, fines or having your goods outright rejected.
A qualified customs broker will ensure all of your documentation meets your destination’s importing requirements, including:
Last but not least, don’t forget to track your shipment. If you’re using an Air Express method like DHL or UPS, you can easily track your shipment using the tracking number that the shipper will provide to you.
You can also track your shipment through your reputable and established China Freight Forwarder.
For example, at Guided Imports:
As you can see, sending goods from China directly to Amazon requires many steps to ensure your goods arrive undamaged and in compliance with both customs in your destination country and Amazon FBA.
That’s why we recommend working with a reputable freight forwarder based in China who can handle both the China-side and destination side logistics.
The safest, most cost-effective way is to use a freight forwarder based in China, specializing in Amazon FBA. Once you know the dimensions of your shipment, you can contact a forwarder and they will help suggest the best way to ship. With this information you can log into Seller Central and create a shipping plan for your forwarder to follow.
The cost will vary depending on the chosen shipping method. As a general rule of thumb, the fast the mode, the more expensive, and the larger the volume, the more you can save. You can consult with Guided Imports if you are unsure of the best shipping mode for your cargo.
The easiest way to save when shipping to Amazon is to find a reliable freight forwarder. As an American and European owned and operated company, using Guided Imports will ensure you get the same quality you would expect from a US-based freight forwarder at a fraction of the cost. We keep our overhead low and pass our savings to you!
When shipping from China to Amazon FBA in the US, your options include:
Shipping by air costs more but is faster, and shipping by sea is slower, but costs significantly less.
When shipping via air express, the best incoterm is EXW. For the other shipping methods, we recommend using FOB, as it provides your forwarder with the greatest amount of flexibility, which they can use to build the most ideal shipping plan for your products.
The best way is to ask for referrals from other companies in the industry. You can also search online, and spend time communicating with the ones you find, to get a feel for their service and willingness to work with you.
The leading high-growth e-commerce brands use Guided Imports
Yes, always perform quality inspections. The last thing you want is to have your goods rejected by Amazon, as this puts your entire seller account at risk. It is both simple and cost-effective to arrange a quality inspection.
Yes, always purchase reight insurance, for peace of mind and to protect your investment. Freight carriers routinely reject damage claims made against them, and it is simple and inexpensive to arrange China freight insurance.
There are various documents required, depending on the final destination, not least of which is the bill of lading.
You’ll want to make sure your goods are packaged both to minimize the risk of damage, and meet Amazon FBA’s unique compliance requirements.
You want to make sure your goods are labeled to meet China export requirements, your final destinations importing requirements, as well as Amazon’s own labeling requirements. Check out China to Amazon FBA services page for details.
Yes. If you are using express shipping like DHL or UPS, your packages can easily be tracked through their system using the tracking number that will be provided to you. And when using a reputable freight forwarder for your air or sea cargo shipments, they will be able to provide tracking of your shipments. You can get all the details on our China Air Freight page.
To guarantee your goods are not held, fined, or rejected in your destination country, it is advisable to always use a reputable US customs broker.