January 30, 2024
15 min

Everything About Shipping to Amazon FBA - Ultimate Guide

Navigate the complexities of Shipping to Amazon FBA with ease. Discover tips, strategies, and insider info about how to send products to Amazon FBA.
Everything About Shipping to Amazon FBA - Ultimate Guide
Table of contents

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) has transformed e-commerce by providing sellers access to Amazon's world-class fulfillment centers and logistics network.

With FBA managing storage, picking, packing, and delivery operations, sellers can focus on sales and marketing while leveraging Prime eligibility.

However, you must first ship your products to Amazon warehouses to reap these benefits. This requires understanding FBA's stringent shipping standards and navigating international freight dynamics if sourcing from overseas.

This ultimate guide covers all key considerations around how to ship products to Amazon FBA.

Whether you manufacture your own goods, source them domestically or internationally, or sell used/refurbished items, this article outlines step-by-step best practices for shipping to Amazon FBA successfully.

Key Takeaways from this Post

FBA Streamlines E-commerce Operations: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) revolutionizes e-commerce, offering sellers access to Amazon's efficient fulfillment centers. By handling storage, picking, packing, and delivery, FBA allows sellers to prioritize sales and marketing, leveraging Prime eligibility.
Key Steps for Successful FBA Shipping: To send products to Amazon FBA, sellers must adhere to specific steps. Properly package and label inventory, create shipping plans in Seller Central, and work with carriers like UPS. Understand shipping requirements, manage inventory strategically, and stay upd
Efficient Alibaba to FBA Shipping: Direct shipping from Alibaba to Amazon FBA is possible, saving time and costs. Coordination with experienced freight forwarders is crucial for international logistics. Quality control before shipping is advised. Stay updated on shipping dynamics, negotiate with sup
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TL;DR - How to Send Products to Amazon FBA

To ship products to Amazon FBA, in the simplest terms, sellers should take the following key steps:

  1. Properly package and label inventory per Amazon’s specifications. Use sturdy boxes with appropriate cushioning materials inside that prevent damage. Apply FNSKU (Amazon barcode) or UPC (manufacturer barcode) labels to individual units.
  2. Create shipping plans within Amazon Seller Central, providing details on the number of units, box weights/dimensions, prep categories, and more.
  3. Amazon designates shipment destinations across its 200+ fulfillment center network based on inventory volumes and locations.
  4. Print required box labels and hand off shipments to designated carriers like UPS for delivery to Amazon warehouses. Freight forwarders assist with international logistics.
  5. Once delivered, Amazon begins receiving inventory, which takes 2-6 days on average before items become available in FBA.

Frequently Asked Questions Before Starting

Before we dive into how to send products to Amazon FBA, let’s address some common questions that e-commerce sellers have before they start.

How much does it cost to ship to Amazon FBA?

For sellers within the United States, shipping smaller, lighter items to Amazon FBA starts at around $8, with larger shipments costing approximately $16 on average.

Exact rates vary based on box dimensions and weights across different zones/distances. International shipments have additional complexity and generally higher costs.

2024 Update: Amazon recently announced new inbound placement fees starting March 1st, 2024, for standard and oversized products sent to fulfillment centers.

These storage service charges will now add $0.27 per unit on average for standard items and $1.58 per oversized unit on average when shipped to Amazon warehouses.

FBA sellers should budget for these extra inbound costs when planning future shipments.

Can I ship directly from Alibaba to Amazon FBA?

Yes, it is possible to coordinate shipping inventory directly from Alibaba suppliers to Amazon FBA warehouses, saving time and warehousing costs.

You may have to work closely with an experienced freight forwarder to handle the international logistics, duties/taxes, and import regulations.

Quality control before shipping from Alibaba is also strongly advised.

Can I deliver to Amazon FBA myself?

Sellers cannot directly ship to Amazon warehouses. You must use shipping carriers like UPS, DHL, etc., and provide labels for Amazon to identify and process your inventory.

A desk with a laptop, papers, and a pen on top of it.

How to Ship to Amazon FBA

Follow this step-by-step playbook to master FBA shipments:

1. Understanding Amazon FBA Shipping Requirements

Amazon has specific requirements spanning packaging, prep, labeling, box sizes, shipping modes (small parcel, LTL), delivery windows, and more that enable efficient receiving.

Reviewing FBA shipment standards in-depth before sending your first order prevents costly problems down the line, so nothing is rejected.

Ensure you understand precisely what Amazon expects by reading the official documentation of shipping and routing requirements.

2. Preparing Your Products for FBA

Now that you know Amazon's requirements for shipping to FBA, it's time to actually get your products ready to send!

  • First, grab some sturdy cardboard boxes in good condition - don't use flimsy boxes, or they might get crushed!
  • Reusing boxes is fine as long as any old labels or markings are removed or covered.
  • Make sure the boxes have all their flaps and edges intact. Pop your product into the box and wrap it well with padding, like bubble wrap, so it doesn't shift around.
  • Leave about 2 inches of padding around each product just to be safe.
  • Don't use loose stuffing like shredded paper or foam peanuts - it can make a mess at the Amazon warehouses. Tape those boxes up tight so they don't come open.
  • We suggest tape along the entire seam on the top and bottom just to be super secure.
  • This next part is super important: You need to put a special Amazon FNSKU barcode label or scannable UPC label on each product you send in.
  • This is how Amazon's system will identify and track your inventory in their warehouses. Ensure the labels are visible and won't get covered up or damaged.

Okay, now onto the specific requirements Amazon has for package sizes and weights:

Amazon FBA Package Requirements

Amazon wants your boxes to be within these size limits so their workers and robots can easily handle them:

  • Boxes should be at least 6 inches long x 4 inches wide x 1 inch tall.
  • Make sure your boxes are at most 25 inches on any single side - that's too big for Amazon's conveyor belts!
  • Try to keep each box under 50 pounds. That's the limit for safe handling.
  • If a box is over 30 pounds, put a "heavyweight" sticker on it so workers are prepared.

3. Selecting a Shipping Plan

Within Seller Central, initiate the Send to Amazon workflow to designate a shipment. 

Provide essential details like:

  • ship-from address,
  • packaging specifics,
  • box weights/dimensions,
  • prep categories,
  • number of units and boxes,
  • estimated ship date,
  • shipping mode (small parcel, LTL), and
  • carrier selection.

Amazon determines the best fulfillment centers for inventory to route to and calculates expected delivery windows and costs. Review charges once service options are selected before confirming the plan.

4. Choosing the Right Freight Forwarder

For sellers importing from overseas like China, the services of a freight forwarder are essential for efficient delivery direct from factories to Amazon FBA.

This logistics expert handles relevant documentation, customs clearance, product inspections, consolidating orders, optimizing shipping modes, and local delivery coordination with carriers like UPS.

They navigate the complexity so you can focus on your products and selling.

5. Managing Inventory Before Shipping

When sending initial FBA shipments, be strategic with unit volumes.

Sending excess inventory too early causes rent and long-term storage fees at Amazon warehouses, while shortages from higher-than-expected sales can impact product rankings.

Consider first sending enough stock to cover 3-6 months of demand. Closely monitor and adjust volumes to find ideal inventory levels over time.

Tools like Link My Books make it easy to sync your inventory data across Amazon, Shopify, and other channels with your accounting software.

6. Navigating Amazon's Shipping Workflow

Access the Send to Amazon workflow within Seller Central’s Manage FBA Shipments module when ready to ship.

Follow the prompted steps providing requested info like addresses, product details, box specifics, prep needs, shipping service selection, delivery date estimates, and confirmation pages.

Ensure you enter accurate info throughout the process for smooth receiving once boxes arrive at fulfillment centers.

7. Tracking and Monitoring Your Shipment

Closely track shipment status via the Shipping Queue in Seller Central.

After items are delivered to FCs, the receiving process commences with Amazon confirming product quantities received versus the shipment plan over days.

If discrepancies arise, submit proof of initial unit counts to reconcile differences. Receive notifications as status advances so you can note ETAs in the available FBA inventory.

8. Optimizing Your Shipping Strategy for Cost and Efficiency

As your business grows, you'll want to keep making your shipping process more efficient and cost-effective.

Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Product prep - Streamline your prep process to avoid wasting supplies and time packing inventory. Figure out which materials and techniques work best for your products.
  • Box sizes - Settle on standard box sizes you use for different types of products. This saves you money when buying in bulk.
  • Shipment templates - Create shipment profiles in Amazon Seller Central that you can reuse when you ship certain products. This makes the send-in process quicker.
  • Carrier relationships - Build partnerships with carriers like UPS to negotiate better rates. The more volume you ship, the more leverage you have.
  • Inventory volumes - Carefully track how much you're shipping to FBA vs storing long-term. Tweak these numbers to maximize sales while minimizing fees.

Getting your suppliers and freight forwarders into a smooth rhythm is key, too. The more you can set up processes with them and fine-tune details, the less hiccups you'll have.

9. Staying Updated with Amazon FBA Shipping Policies

Amazon regularly makes subtle (and occasionally significant) changes to FBA shipping standards and workflow intricacies.

Bookmark the FBA Shipping page and Invest in the Amazon seller tools/services you need to ship to Amazon and easily review it at least monthly to catch impactful updates early.

Signing up for Amazon shipping webinars also keeps your knowledge sharp. Staying current ensures continued compliance and prevents product rejection.

Two amazon boxes on a dark blue background.

How to Ship From Alibaba to Amazon FBA

Importing goods directly from Alibaba suppliers to sell via Amazon FBA can unlock significant time and cost efficiencies but also has unique logistical considerations across language barriers, production quality, and export/import processes from China.

Here is what sellers need to know:

1. Understanding Alibaba to Amazon FBA Shipping Dynamics

When you place orders on Alibaba that you want to be sent directly to Amazon FBA, make sure to work with sellers who know this process inside and out.

You can filter these suppliers using the “Trade Assurance” and “Verified Supplier” options on Alibaba. Also, look for suppliers with the “Ready to Ship” badge, which means they have products in stock and can ship them quickly.

You want pros handling all the export paperwork, ensuring your shipments meet Amazon's rules, and ensuring taxes/duties are paid properly.

Don't try to reinvent the wheel - find partners who've done this many times before. It saves headaches down the line!

2. Choosing Products on Alibaba for FBA

Not everything you see on Alibaba will sell well through FBA.

Focus on unique items with strong profit potential based on - 

  • competitive pricing, 
  • steady demand, 
  • reasonable shipping costs from China
  • Shelf life remaining after transit, and 
  • predictable quality once produced. 

Supplements and electronic parts tend to be good FBA products to import directly from Alibaba factories. Bulky or perishable items will have high shipping rates and narrow margins.

3. Negotiating with Alibaba Suppliers

Before you finalize orders, negotiate to lock in the best pricing and get written commitments from suppliers to meet quality standards and ship on schedule to your freight forwarder.

Bringing on sourcing agents or paying for product samples can help align expectations before investing in big orders. A little diligence goes a long way!

4. Integrating Alibaba Orders with Amazon FBA

Ensure your suppliers know that the products will ship directly to Amazon FBA.

When placing orders on Alibaba, provide Amazon's packing and labeling requirements so they're prepped correctly. Provide:

  • Chosen FBA warehouse address
  • Exact UPC/FNSKU labeling needed
  • Customs shipment docs (invoicing, CoO, etc.)

This smooths receiving and avoids added steps before stocking.

5. Navigating International Shipping Regulations

Research import rules for products on government agency websites specific to destination countries and acquire appropriate clearances before shipping.

Many forms and paperwork are required when importing at scale across borders - export declarations in China, import docs in the US, etc.

Let your freight forwarder coordinate with customs brokers on both sides to keep shipments moving smoothly and legally through all the international bureaucracy and trade policies.

Violations can lead to penalties, shipment delays, or complete rejection.

6. Leveraging Shipping Agents for Alibaba Orders

As another option beyond freight forwarders, there are specialized cross-border shipping agents explicitly focused on consolidating goods from places like Alibaba for Amazon sellers.

They handle everything from supplier quality checks to prepping goods per Amazon's requirements. It makes life so much easier!

7. Quality Control Checks Before Shipping

Before your freight forwarder loads up that shipping container, be sure to arrange final product inspections to catch common Alibaba product quality pitfalls like:

  • Defects or damages from poor manufacturing or handling
  • Inconsistencies between samples and bulk orders
  • Inaccurate labels, packaging, or product specs

To prevent or resolve quality problems:

  • Hire an independent quality inspection service in China to examine goods firsthand and provide a detailed pre-shipment report. They check for issues during production and finishing.
  • Request your Alibaba supplier share photos, videos, or samples of the finished products before loading the container so you can confirm the quality.
  • If quality issues are found later, file a dispute with Alibaba Trade Assurance or directly negotiate with the supplier, asking for a partial refund or remaking items to correct defects before accepting the order.

This double-check is well worth the extra diligence.

8. Direct Shipping vs. Third-Party Warehousing

The above end-to-end shipping workflow from China to Amazon warehouses is direct. It offers lower costs but longer overall lead times.

Alternatively, stage shipments in your own warehouses for consolidation/sampling before the last-mile delivery. This adds handling costs but provides more oversight and flexibility.

Evaluate volume, seasonality, stock-keeping requirements, and peak demand before deciding.

A person putting a label on a cardboard box.

How to Ship From China to Amazon FBA

For sellers managing their own manufacturing relationships with Chinese factories, unique intricacies exist throughout the export and Amazon inbound process:

1. Evaluating Chinese Manufacturers for Amazon FBA

Before selecting a producer for long-term orders, thoroughly assess the capability to consistently deliver products made-for-sale quality levels and hassle-free FBA channel integration.

Validate their expertise in preparing shipment-ready finished goods, procuring compliant packaging, producing customs forms, and integrating with your freight forwarder.

Also, check credentials, certifications, production bandwidth, and export experience when shortlisting Chinese vendors for FBA-ready products.

Spell out packaging standards and past Amazon quality audits in RFPs to validate capabilities.

2. Navigating Chinese Export Regulations

To legally transact business and move merchandise across borders from China, specific documentation must be filed per that country’s export laws.

Items also face tariffs and duties when entering the US and Canada. Rely on trade compliance pros at freight companies to handle things appropriately on your behalf.

Violations like mislabeled countries of origin lead to penalties and shipment delays.

3. Understanding Amazon FBA’s Import Requirements

Get familiar with Amazon’s referral Import requirements governing critical elements like inventory prep, packaging, labeling, shipment contents details, delivery routing, and arrival windows to avoid unpleasant surprises on your first FBA orders.

Their standards help facilitate quick receiving and order processing but demand precision.

4. Leveraging Incoterms in Shipping Agreements

Incoterms are internationally recognized shipping contract standards codifying cost and liability allocations between buyer/seller.

For Amazon imports from China, sellers often utilize terms shifting ownership/risk like “Ex Works,” “FOB Port,” and “DAP Named Place” to forwarders/Amazon.

Understand implications to optimize cash duties, taxes & landed costs.

5. Coordinating with Freight Forwarders in China

When picking a freight forwarder, find one with an office or team near your supplier's factory in China. That makes things so much smoother.

Having a forwarder on the ground consolidating your orders from the supplier and handling all the export details locally is really handy.

It makes communication easy when questions or problems arise that need quick action. Definitely look for that local advantage!

6. Handling FBA Documentation Specific to Chinese Exports

There's some unique paperwork required for shipments leaving Chinese ports headed to Amazon FBA centers worldwide.

Your freight forwarder needs to ensure essential documents like Export Declarations and Certificates of Origin are appropriately prepared and included to comply with each country's import rules.

Reliable partners will have this export documentation workflow down pat.

7. Optimizing Container Utilization for Sea Freight

When importing large quantities from Chinese factories using sea containers, carefully plan your production timing and order sizes.

You want to maximize how full each container gets - avoid wasted space or having overflow inventory that doesn't fit. Careful inventory planning and tracking are crucial when coordinating large trans-Pacific shipments to Amazon FBA.

Sync closely with your freight forwarder so your supplier's output aligns well with getting product loaded into containers headed to open vessel space.

8. Air Freight vs. Sea Freight Considerations

If you need products from China to Amazon ASAP for a new launch or restock, air freight can get them there in just days, while ocean shipments take 3-6 weeks.

That blazing speed comes at a hefty cost, though. Air is over 5 times more expensive than sea cargo but takes just 1-2 weeks. Make data-backed mode selections based on the following:

  • Shelf life constraints
  • Lead time sensitivity
  • Seasonality

For less time-sensitive items, slower ocean freight is probably fine despite the risks like port delays. Prioritize speed vs. savings accordingly when picking your shipping method.

9. Managing Chinese Holidays and Their Impact on Shipping

Factories in China completely shut down operations during major public holidays - especially the 2-week Chinese New Year break.

Carefully review your suppliers' holiday schedules to avoid delays in getting products to Amazon on time.

Adjust order timelines earlier or ask to temporarily increase output ahead of predictable shutdowns so production volumes don't fall behind.

10. Mitigating Risks in Trans-Pacific Shipping

Despite everyone's best efforts, unpredictable stuff beyond our control can always halt shipments from Asia - labor strikes, port congestion, storms, and even pirates or wars.

Have backup plans in place when transporting goods from China to Amazon in case the worst happens - build in extra inventory buffer per order, use multiple freight routes, and choose more reliable carriers.

Global trade has unavoidable volatility, so implementing redundancy keeps your Amazon flywheel spinning amidst potential chaos.

How Long Does it Take For Amazon to Receive FBA Shipment?

Once FBA shipments produced domestically or internationally arrive at Amazon fulfillment centers after completing the shipping plan process outlined earlier, the items shift to a “receiving” status.

It initiates Amazon’s formal quality and quantity verifications before stocks become available for orders. 

This receiving phase typically completes within 2-6 days for counting and stocking before reflecting as available inventory across marketplaces.

However, delays happen during peak seasons like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas due to shipment backlogs.

Proactively schedule your production, packing, and shipping timeline by factoring in expected air/ocean transit days plus Amazon’s receipt duration to meet key sales event targets.


While hardly foolproof, sellers willing to invest upfront in understanding the ins and outs of FBA shipping intricacies can reap major rewards as Amazon elevates world-class logistics into effortless sales growth.

If you want to simplify your e-commerce order fulfillment and accounting, check out Link My Books.

Our automated bookkeeping and inventory management solution seamlessly connects your sales channels like Amazon, Etsy, Walmart, and Shopify with leading accounting platforms such as Xero and QuickBooks.

Link My Books saves sellers substantial time and overhead on order procedures and financial tracking. Sign up today for a free trial to experience the benefits first-hand!

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