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Amazon Announces New Shipping Policies for Merchant Fulfilled Sellers

The eBay & Amazon Seller's News, October 21, 2014 - Volume 14, Issue No. 19

Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Independent Online Sellers
by: Skip McGrath

In This Issue:

Musings from eBay, Amazon and The World Wide Web

  1. Amazon Announces New Shipping Policies for Merchant Fulfilled Sellers
  2. Selling on Amazon.com USA From Overseas
  3. Preparing Shipments to FBA
  4. eBay is Going Back to Live Auction for Certain Types of Products
  5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." ~ Bill Gates


Musings from eBay, Amazon, and beyond

I owe all of my readers a big apology. In the last issue in the article on FBA Frequently Asked Questions, I wrote an item about the math to decide whether to have an un-fufillable item returned or disposed of. Several of my readers emailed to with a big correction. In the piece I said that Amazon charges you a pick and pack fee plus shipping cost to return an item. Turns out I was totally incorrect. The pick and pack fee of 50¢ per item (60¢ for oversize items) includes the shipping cost back to you. I never imagined Amazon would send goods back with free shipping which was the genesis of my mistake. Turns out I should have checked. If you want to read the piece again you can find it here.


This week I had several folks who purchased both The Complete Amazon Marketing System and The eBay Marketing System. You don't want to do that. The reason is that both books contain the same general business and wholesale sourcing information and you will be paying a lot for a considerable amount of duplicate information. If you want to learn to sell on both platforms, I suggest you buy The Complete Amazon Marketing System and then get my printed book Three Weeks to eBay® Profits, Third Edition: Go From Beginner to Successful Seller in Less than a Month . This way you will have all the information you need to sell on both platforms.


For those of you who have bought my training manual The Complete Amazon Marketing System, or my eBook, eBay To Amazon, I came across a book last week that I highly recommend. Even if you have not bought one of my books, but you sell on Amazon, you will want to read Amazon Advantage - Product listing strategies to boost your sales. This is simply one of the best books I have come across regarding writing titles, bullets and descriptions for Amazon and it also includes how to find the best keywords. The book is full of examples, screenshots and even comes with several handy worksheets to help you get started. The book is by Karon Thackston, who is a professional sales copywriter.

And Karon agreed to a really good deal for my readers. If you purchase before November 5th and use the Coupon code SKIP40 at checkout, Karon will knock 40% off of the price. If you sell on Amazon I strongly suggest you read Amazon Advantage - Product listing strategies to boost your sales. I think I know a lot about selling on Amazon, but Karon's book opened my eyes to several new ideas and techniques. This is one investment that will put money in your pocket.

Here is another good learning opportunity. Barrington McIntosh, Andy Dew and Lance Wolf have put together a series of online classes for four weeks called Source - Automate - Expand. Kat Simpson will host the classes. The class size will be kept to a very small number and once you finish you get membership in their Mastermind Private Facebook Group. Just a few of the things you will learn include:

  • How to source extremely profitable inventory.
  • How to expand your Amazon business into other markets like Europe.
  • How to effectively hire a VA and put systems of automation in place for your business.
  • And most importantly -How to have fun while working.

And, there are four special valuable bonus items worth almost the complete cost of the course. Check out Source - Automate - Expand.


For the past year I have been participating in Jenni Hunt's private Facebook group for health, beauty and grocery, gourmet food sellers. Each group runs for 3 months and this is the last month of the current group. Each group is limited to just 100 members and includes Jenni, as well as several large professional sellers who will answer your questions and give advice about almost anything you will encounter on Amazon. So if you sell in the grocery or health and beauty categories, check out the Private Facebook Group. Here is a link to read more about it.


Check out this press release I received from Amazon last week:

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 16, 2014-- Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced it is creating 80,000 seasonal positions across its U.S. network of fulfillment and sortation centers this holiday season in order to meet an increase in customer demand. Last year, Amazon converted thousands of seasonal employees into regular, full-time roles after the holidays, and expects to do the same this year.

"So far this year, we have converted more than 10,000 seasonal employees in the U.S. into regular, full-time roles and we're looking forward to converting thousands more across our growing network of fulfillment and sortation centers after this holiday season," said Mike Roth, Amazon's vice president of North America operations. "We're excited to be creating 80,000 seasonal jobs, thousands of which will lead to regular, full-time roles with benefits starting on day one and innovative programs like Career Choice for employees to further pursue their education."

Amazon now has more than 50 fulfillment centers in the U.S. and will have more than 15 sortation centers by the end of 2014. The new network of sortation centers is fueling a range of innovations like Sunday delivery, later cut-off ordering times for customers and the ability to control packages deeper into the delivery process.

For its regular, full-time fulfillment center positions, Amazon offers competitive hourly wages and a comprehensive benefits package, including healthcare, 401(k) and company stock awards.

Amazon also offers regular full-time employees innovative programs like Career Choice, where it will pre-pay up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. Since the program's launch, employees are pursuing degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, to name a few.

Applicants can apply online at www.workatamazonfulfillment.com.


Lets get started with this monthís articles:

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1. Amazon Announces New Shipping Policies for Merchant Fulfilled Sellers

Here is another good reason to sell on Amazon through FBA. I only have a tiny handful of Merchant Fulfilled items, but since I do occasionally sell direct, I got this notice from Amazon this week:

"Upcoming changes related to U.S. domestic shipping will affect your shipping options for items sold on Amazon.com. The changes will take place on November 13, 2014, as part of our effort to create a better buyer experience. We will be implementing the following changes:"

1. ADDING ESTIMATED DELIVERY DATES TO CHECK-OUT

We will add estimated delivery dates (EDDs) for each shipping option on the order check-out pages. This change will help increase buyer confidence in purchasing items from sellers.

TWO-DAY SHIPPING OPTION

The Two-Day Shipping option will show an EDD that is three business days after the date of order (one day handling time plus two days of shipping transit time), regardless of whether you specified a different handling time in your settings. Since handling time is always set to one business day on Two-Day Shipping, this change will result in more stringent time requirements for your fulfilment operation.

STANDARD AND EXPEDITED SHIPPING OPTION

The Standard and Expedited Shipping options will show an EDD that is calculated from the date of the order by adding your handling time or the default handling time of two business days and the transit time for the shipping option.

2. NEW REQUIREMENTS TO OFFER TWO-DAY SHIPPING

Beginning November 13, 2014, there will be new requirements for sellers that want to continue offering the Two-Day Shipping option. If you do not meet these requirements by November 13, 2014, Two-Day Shipping may be disabled in your account.

TWO-DAY ON-TIME DELIVERY

You are required to deliver on or before the EDD at least 92% of orders with the Two-Day Shipping option. If the delivery carrier attempts but fails to deliver a package, it counts as being delivered for the purposes of this requirement.

OVERALL ON-TIME DELIVERY

You are required to deliver on or before the EDD at least 92% of all track-able orders. If the delivery carrier attempts but fails to deliver a package, it counts as being delivered for the purposes of this requirement.

TRACKING

You will be required to use a track-able ship method and provide valid tracking IDs on most orders. You must have a minimum of 94% tracking rate on orders placed with Two-Day Shipping and a minimum of 80% tracking rate across all orders including those with Standard or Expedited Shipping. Orders that contain only media products must have a minimum of 94% tracking rate on orders placed with Two-Day Shipping and 70% tracking rate across all orders, including those with Standard or Expedited Shipping.

OTHER DELIVERY PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS

For all shipping options your order defect rate must be less than 0.5%, your seller-initiated cancellation rate must be less than 1.5% and your late shipment rate must be less than 1%. You can review your performance metrics on Seller Central by going to Performance ... Customer Satisfaction or using the link below:

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/seller-rating/pages/performance-summary.html/

CARRIER REQUIREMENTS

You will be required to use UPS, US Postal Service, FedEx or OnTrac to deliver orders placed with Two-Day Shipping. We will evaluate adding more carriers in the future.

3. CHANGES TO ONE-DAY SHIPPING

Beginning November 13, 2014, the One-Day Shipping option will no longer be available as a U.S. domestic shipping option for your merchant-fulfilled items on Amazon.com. Sellers can offer Two-Day, Expedited, or Standard Shipping.

These changes will help us provide more consistent delivery estimates and improve the buyer experience on Amazon.com. We welcome your feedback; please email us at shipping-options-us-feedback@amazon.com.

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2. Selling on Amazon.com USA From Overseas

If you are a US reader, this article may not hold any interest for you unless you have a friend or relative who lives in a foreign country and who is interested in selling on Amazon.

About 10% of my readers are from overseas. And when I look at my Google analytics for this website, it shows about 8% of my daily traffic is also from several foreign countries - mostly India, UK, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Spain and Singapore. And since I launched The Complete Amazon Marketing System, I have sold over 45 copies to folks from those countries. (Note - because shipping rates are different depending on the part of the world, I do not have a shopping cart option for readers outside of the US or Canada. If you want to buy my book from another country, please use the contact form on the website and I will send you shipping rates and payment instructions).

At least once or twice a week, I get an email from one of my overseas readers asking how to go about registering on Amazon US from overseas. Not knowing the answer, I reached out to Amazon support and asked them. Here is the information they sent me:

Thank you for contacting Amazon Seller Support.

I understand that your readers are interested in setting up an Amazon.com selling account and would like to know how to go about starting creating an account.

First, we appreciate your interest in selling on the Amazon platform. Please read the below information to know the process of setting up a selling account from outside the US.

Please find below a link to the list of the countries currently accepted to register for selling on Amazon.com. Please note that in order to be able to sell on Amazon.com, you need to be a resident in one of the following countries, have a local phone number and have an internationally chargeable credit card.

Please check the below link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200417280

Also with regards to adding bank account information please check the links below:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200285610

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/seller/registration/participationAgreement.html?itemID=200497780&language=en_US

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200501140

To get started with creating an account, please click the link below and choose your selling plan:

http://services.amazon.com/selling/benefits.htm?ld=AZSOAHelpAS

If you have any further queries regarding sending items to FBA, please let us know so that we can advise you in detail. As of now I have provided information about how to go about the registering process as a seller from Hong Kong and about bank account information.

If you want to sell on Amazon US and want to use FBA (which I strongly recommend), there is another service you will want to use. My friend, John Bullard of Maeja Associates and his company My Inventory Team provide a service for both US and overseas sellers. John's services include two major things that can help you. First of all he sources liquidation products from manufacturers and when you buy from him he will label and ship the goods to Amazon FBA warehouses for you. For overseas sellers, you can buy your inventory in bulk and have it shipped to My Inventory Team and they will also label and ship the goods into FBA for you. This gives overseas sellers better results than shipping goods one at a time when they sell because you save money since bulk shipping is so much lower than shipping goods one at a time.

Lastly, one of the services you are going to need is an international freight forwarder and a US customs broker. Rather than deal with two separate companies, I use one company that provides both services, Universal Cargo.

When you ship goods from overseas, they will arrange to pick up the goods from you're manufacturer, get them to a port, search for the best rates for your particular shipment and location, arrange shipment of the goods, clear the goods through customs here in the US and then they will ship by truck to whatever destination you select such as the My Inventory Team warehouse.

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3. Preparing Shipments to FBA

I often get the question, "How do I package my items to ship to Amazon's FBA warehouses?" This is one of those things you want to get right. If you screw up too many times, Amazon can suspend your FBA privileges. Here is what Amazon says about improper shipments:

  • Overage, damage, and mis-ships may be rejected at the dock and no Return Authorization Requests will be processed for these returns. Refused shipments may be returned to you at your expense
  • Shipments that are coded as "Damaged" or "Defective" may be refused at the dock and may incur a return freight charge.
  • You may not refuse or return shipments that are returned to you without first contacting Amazon. Shipments that you refuse or return to Amazon without first attempting resolution with Amazon may be refused and any transportation costs incurred to reship to you will be at your expense.

If an item is in a sturdy retail box, we usually ship them right in the box. But for other items, including bundled and multi-pak items, we most often use polybags. If an item is at all breakable, we bubble-wrap the item and put it in a poly bag and seal it.

We buy the open top 2-mil polybags as we find those work the best. They are much cheaper than the zip top bags and available fairly cheap on both eBay and Amazon. When you use an open top polybag, you have to heat seal it. Here is a link to the heat sealer we use - 16" (400mm) Impulse manual bag sealer with cutter, 3mm wide sealing + 2 Spare Replacement Kits . The built in cutter saves time, the bags come out looking much better and the replacement kits are necessary as they do wear out over time. If you have the replacement kit on hand, it only takes a minute to replace the sealers that burn out.

Pack your product units using as few boxes as possible. Protect the products from damage during shipping by adding cushioning material like foam, air pillows or full sheets of paper. Styrofoam peanuts, crinkle wrap, and shredded paper are not acceptable. (If you have Styrofoam peanuts and want to use them as packing material, you can put them in a polybag. That is OK with Amazon -they just don't want loose peanuts as they are not set up to deal with them in their warehouses).

Check the sealed box to ensure the contents in the box will not shift during shipping and that the box is strong enough for shipping. Repack the box if necessary. IMPORTANT - Amazon recently released a new policy that you should have at least 2-inches of packing material surrounding the products in the box. You can ship without that, but if an item arrives broken and you did not use at least 2-inches of packing buffer, then Amazon will not reimburse you for item breakage. Most of the products we sell are not breakable, but for the few that are, we always follow that practice. This is where those polybags full of peanuts come in handy.

Box Contents

  • The contents of each box must contain inventory from only one Shipment ID. You must not combine Units from multiple shipments in the same box. You can find the Shipment ID on the shipment summary page.
  • Ensure that the shipment details listed in your Seller Account match the physical shipment to the fulfillment center, including:

    • Merchant SKU
    • FNSKU
    • Condition
    • Quantity shipped
    • Packing option (individually packed or case packed)
  • Boxes must not exceed the standard weight limit of 50 lb., unless they contain one single shippable Unit that exceeds 50 lb.
  • For a Unit that exceeds 50 lb., attach a label that clearly indicates "Team Lift" on the top and sides of the box
  • For a Unit that exceeds 100 lb., attach a label that clearly indicates "Mech Lift" on the top and sides of the box
  • Boxes containing Jewelry or Watches must not exceed 40 lb.
  • If you are using an Amazon-Partnered carrier, accurately weigh and measure boxes and pallets to ensure that the correct values are supplied for every shipment
  • Boxes should not be bundled together using bagging, taping, elastic, or extra straps.
  • If you are reusing boxes from previous shipments, be sure to remove any previous shipping labels or markings to avoid confusion by the carrier.
  • If you are reusing a retail box to ship different products (for example, a large printer box to ship smaller media products), be sure to cover or remove any scannable barcodes on the outside of the box to avoid confusion during the receive process.

Labeling Items

Use a Standard 1 x 2 5/8 - Inch label (Avery #5160). These come 30 to a sheet. Note, Amazon recommends using a laser printer, but we have been using a standard Ink Jet printer for years with no problems. Just be careful to wait a moment after the label prints to handle them, so you are sure the ink is dry and they won't smudge.

If you are selling products that have a manufacturer's UPC code on them, be sure and cover every instance of the bar code or any other bar codes that appear on the box or the product. There is usually only one bar code on an item, but I have seen goods that had more. If there are more, we simply place a blank over the second or third barcode.

For the shipping label - note that there are two parts -both parts must be on the box and Amazon insists that neither label covers the opening where the box will be slit to open so the labels are still intact after the box is opened.

Packing lists

Amazon no longer requires a packing list, but they do give you the option to download one. I have personally had cases where Amazon disputes the number of items in a box and says you are short or over. If you download the packing list and use it as a checklist when packing your boxes this can prevent mistakes if you make a miscount. If Amazon sees your checked off packing list in the box, they will also be more careful to count correctly.

So there you have it. I know it all seems like a bit much, but once you have done about a dozen shipments or so it's pretty easy to do everything right.

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4. eBay is Going Back to Live Auction for Certain Types of Products

eBay announced they were returning to live auctions to buy art, antiques, rare books and collectibles online. This is being done in conjunction with over a dozen large auction houses. From anywhere in the world, eBay shoppers now have the same access to auction merchandise as those bidding in person on the auction room floor.

"Through the launch of live auctions, eBay is reimagining the time-honored auction house experience," said Gene Cook, general manager of emerging verticals for eBay Marketplaces. "We know that people want new ways to peruse and purchase fine art and collectibles, and eBay's live auctions are a best-in-class, inspiring shopping experience that delivers on this at a variety of price points."

With live auctions, inventory is sold directly by traditional auction houses, including partners such as Doyle New York, Freeman's, Garth's Auctions, and Swann Auction Galleries.

All items are backed by the eBay Money Back Guarantee. Here is a list of some recent sales:

  • 10/9: African-American Fine Art, hosted by Swann Auction Galleries
  • 10/14: Rare & Important Travel Posters, hosted by Swann Auction Galleries
  • 10/15: English & Continental Furniture & Decorations/Old Master Paintings, hosted by Doyle New York
  • 10/16: Books, Maps and Manuscripts, hosted by Freeman's
  • 10/17: Fine Photographs: Icons & Images, hosted by Swann Auction Galleries
  • 10/21: Early Printed, Medical & Scientific Books, hosted by Swann Auction Galleries
  • 10/21: Important Jewelry, hosted by Doyle New York

If you go to this link you can sign up to receive notices of upcoming sales.

If you have fine art, books, maps, prints or important jewelry to sell, contact the auction house directly and send them your items. Just tell them you want your item to participate in eBay's Live Auctions. If you sign up at the link above to receive notices of upcoming sales you can get a list of all the auction houses in the US that are participating.

More details can be found at: http://announcements.ebay.com/2014/10/ebay-live-auctions-give-buyers-direct-access-to-premium-art-and-collectibles-sales/

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5. New Wholesale Sources for eBay and Amazon Sellers

The Grant Howard Company sells a large line of kitchen & tabletop products. They work through sales reps all around the country. When you get to the website, click on the link to showrooms to find one near you.

Precision Products sells a large line of Beauty scissors and many other small tools that really lend themselves to creating unique product bundles.

The EE Schneck Company is a wholesale distributor for many companies in the sewing and knitting industry.

The Yarn Tree is a wholesale company that specializes in cross stitch and needlework supplies

Matr Boomie is a fair trade company specializing in hand made products from India.

Marukai Wholesale Mart specializes in the importing of Japanese products, such as groceries, goods, furniture, health products and electronic appliances. They carry over 20,000 Japanese products.

Mingzhou Oriental is an importer and wholesaler in the US specializing in oriental furniture, home decor, gifts, antiques, arts and collectibles. Wholesale to the trade only.

Miya Company Inc. provides unique products made in, or inspired by, Japan for the global market.

The Superior Glove Company sells a complete line of cut resistant gloves as well as other kinds of gloves.

Attwood Marine Products sells marine products and boating equipment and accessories.

The Hang-O-Matic Company sells a very unique picture hanging system to insure straight pictures every time.

Global Village Imports sells thousands of imported products from all over the world.

Book Pal is a wholesale distributor of thousands of books.

Empire Discount is a company I have mentioned here in the past, but they sell thousands of toys -including many licensed and name brand toys and can still deliver in time for Christmas selling if you order soon.

Innex, Inc. is a worldwide distributor of video game accessories, toys, mobile & audio equipment. Find peripherals for retro and next-gen gaming consoles and handhelds. Licensed plush toys, figurines, R/C cars, and board games.

Thatís it for October. November will be a big and busy month so good luck to everyone! Make your Fourth Quarter ROCK!

Skip McGrath
The Online Seller's News

P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.


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