Shipping a product from China to an Amazon fulfillment center is often the last thing Amazon sellers worry about. They can be so focused on designing and marketing their new product that the supply chain setup can be overlooked.
Overseas transportation from factory to fulfillment center can be expensive and risk making your products unviable. This is especially true when using a normal parcel delivery company, such as UPS, as your Amazon freight forwarder.
In reality, these regular parcel services are only price-competitive up to about 150 kgs (in chargeable weight). For anything bigger, it’s more cost-effective to work with a freight forwarder, like Flexport or Freightos.
When choosing an Amazon FBA freight forwarder, many business owners will understandably gravitate towards the one offering the lowest initial price. However, these Amazon sellers can learn a hard lesson once hidden charges start appearing and there is uncertainty around the exact location of their products.
This can end up costing sellers more time, energy, and money than if they had chosen a service-based freight forwarder who offers honest, up-front pricing, and real-time shipment visibility.
So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at how to choose the best Amazon freight forwarder for your FBA business.
Three Key Attributes When Choosing the Best Freight Forwarder for Amazon FBA:
E-commerce is a chaotic business environment, prone to last-minute changes ranging from adjusting carton dimensions to forecasting the speed at which products can sell.
Using a freight forwarder for Amazon FBA who communicates clearly and effectively will save your businesses money and a lot of stress. A prime example is making sure the same company partners with you across multiple time zones rather than using third-party couriers.
When selecting an Amazon freight forwarder, always ask them about their physical presence and capabilities in both the country of origin and the destination.
Communication doesn’t have a tangible price tag, but it delivers incredible value (and peace of mind) while you can focus on growing your business.
Before confirming an upcoming shipment, pay attention to how your forwarder communicates with you. This will tell you a lot about their level of customer service and might reveal future communication challenges.
The first time you get a quote from a freight forwarder can be confusing. And this is where “transparency” becomes a valuable part of the process.
To have control of your shipment, your forwarder needs to be able to clearly explain what you’re being charged for, and to what extent you can include or exclude features you don’t feel necessary.
Before booking your next shipment, make sure you understand customs duties and Incoterms. This way, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what’s included in your shipment and how to avoid unexpected charges along the way.
At origin, factories often partner with freight forwarders who work through an agent model. These shipping agents do not have a global presence and there is often a lack of visibility. It’s important to know exactly what’s going on with your shipment so you can make plans around the arrival of your cargo across the different time zones.
With so many advances in technology, one might wonder why many freight forwarders still manage shipments through outdated methods. When shipping goods around the globe, exceptions are bound to happen. Nonetheless, you should be informed as they happen — giving you the valuable opportunity to react.
When choosing the best Amazon FBA freight forwarder, ask them how they handle pricing, billing, and shipment tracking to be sure they’re providing the level of transparency you need.
3. Familiarity With Amazon FBA
Online shopping is clearly the future of retail. Many logistics companies still haven’t embraced this change. Partnering with a freight forwarder that is familiar with e-commerce and Amazon FBA is essential as you aim to quickly grow your business.
Let’s take, for example, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)’s strict guidelines around deliveries and packaging. As a seller, your hands are tied following Amazon’s rules and regulations. Freight forwarders who understand this side of the business, and have dealt with Amazon thousands of times, can easily navigate you through Amazon’s unique fulfillment requirements.
The best piece of advice we can give you: ask your Amazon FBA freight forwarder how they approach optimizing your door-to-door costs as opposed to just port-to-port. You can achieve tremendous cost savings using the right partner for the last-mile delivery.
The Best Freight Forwarders for Amazon FBA
Here are some of the best Amazon freight forwarders we would recommend:
- Flexport: https://www.flexport.com
- Freightos: https://www.freightos.com
- First Choice Ship: http://www.firstchoiceship.com
- Shippo: https://www.shippo.co.uk
- Medey: https://www.medey.com
Final Thoughts on Choosing an Amazon Freight Forwarder
Don’t just go with the cheapest option offered. With so many hidden costs and your responsibilities as an importer, forwarders who offer a premium service, in combination with a competitive rate, could end up saving you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on the backend.
Make sure the Amazon freight forwarder you choose offers transparent quoting, a clear and collaborative communication tool, and readily available updates on the status of your shipment.
Also, don’t underestimate the value of in-house customs brokerage services that can drastically reduce transit times. Keep in mind that you can’t freely pick and choose your tariff codes, which are regulated by government entities.
If someone tells you they can get you a better code for cheaper duties, they may be cutting corners and putting your business at a compliance risk.
We recommend you start by checking out Freightos and Flexport, both of which are used by thousands of Amazon sellers.
Good Luck & Happy Selling
Article By James PercivalFounder and Lead Editor of The Selling Guys
James has been selling online for over 15 years. He has focused mainly on Amazon selling but also has experience of selling on eBay, selling globally, building ecommerce sites and much more.
He still runs a very successful ecommerce business but decided to help other sellers to make money online through ‘The Selling Guys’ website and the ‘Amazon Selling for Beginners’ Facebook group.
He has 3 children, two dogs and a (now missing) cat.