Without a shadow of a doubt, foreign markets have opened up new avenues for Amazon sellers. However most sellers find it hard to branch out to these lucrative markets. The logistics, cost implications and nitty-gritty’s of importation become a limiting factor to sellers most cases. Here are some steps that will go a long way in helping in the importation process on Amazon.
Suitable Supplier Identification
As a seller, you’d want to link up with a reputable manufacturer, preferably with a good reputation and who know what they are doing. One way of looking for suppliers is going through Alibaba supplier reviews. It provides a comprehensive guide to the best manufacturers and factories involved in international trade. Try to select a suppler who is Gold and has Trade Assurance.
Once you’ve settled on your suitable supplier, make sure you understand all the details in the terms you agree with them. Get a clear legal and financial understanding on which party is responsible for your merchandise on each step in transit.
After sourcing from your supplier, it is imperative to do your homework on government regulators and legislative bodies including the following: Food & Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission
Shipping and all it entails
Goods are normally shipped through Air freight and Ocean freight. Typically air freight is faster, flexible, direct but more expensive. Ocean freights take longer but you enjoy volume discounts especially when shipping a full container which may lower your cost per unit.
When it comes to choosing the right shipping pricing price for your cargo, there are various factors that you need to evaluate:
• Speed: Urgency in shipping you’ll need to get an accurate quote on air freight.
• Cost factors: Choosing between flat rate quotes and customized quotes. Make sure you analyze your terms of sale. Take advantage of terms like Free On Board (FOB). This means your supplier is handling taking the goods to the nearest port and clearing Export Customs for you.
• Amazon’s Inventory Placement Program: In this program your cargo is sent in a consolidated form. This means that the cargo is not split into 2, 3 or even more destinations. Amazon does actually charge a fee for this service (0.30 per unit) but it acts as a cost-saver on the logistics side of things. As a side note, Amazon may still transship your merchandise to different fulfillment centers before availing in the market place.
As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to customs, Full disclosure and honesty is the best policy. In particular description and commercial value of your merchandise. Commercial value here refers to the actual value of the goods and not the retail price. As a seller you are fully responsible for complying with US Customs as well as other agency’s regulations. The firsts step when dealing with customs is purchasing a US Customs bond. Bonds are essential in ensuring customs gets payment dues for all duties and taxes on imports. This rule applies to all US residents and nonresidents.
After getting your bond, next step is getting the paperwork specific to the goods you intend to import. Some of the specific data elements required may include: country of origin, terms of sale, and actual manufacturer’s name and address. Other items may include gross and net weights and the actual currency used on the invoice. For master shipping cartons the following data should printed on the outside: Carton count, any tracking labels like FBA shipment labels, gross and net weights as well as country of origin.
According to Code of Federal Regulations 19 USC 1467 importers, are responsible for the costs associated with an exam. Importers should be aware of duties tariffs and international laws. You can hire a licensed broker to classify your goods on your behalf.
Warehousing and delivery
After clearing with customs your forwarder will send a carrier in to pick the freight immediately. Amazon’s freight requirements are: 48×40” pallets, with a height restriction of 72” and a weight limit of 1500lbs. With respect to multiple FBA Shipment IDs, these cannot be comingled on the same pallet.
Good Practices and tips
Manage your expectations and carefully lay out a timeline of how you expect things to progress.
Get acquitted with unloading procedures, players such as the trucking market and their delivery-related costs.
Always assess your freight quotes.
Apply transloading of goods in ocean container and palletizing the freight before delivery.
Take care of your Bill of Landing, keep the original copy, and preferably issue an electronic release or telex.
Be proactive and look out for delays during Amazon’s Holidays and peaks.
Work with Amazon’s partner carriers if you are not yet familiar with players in the market.