The biggest advantage of shipping from China to Amazon directly is that it is much quicker and cheaper. You will normally save 1-2 weeks in transit time if shipping direct from China. You will also eliminate 3PL costs which are hundreds or thousands of dollars per shipment, depending on the size.
The biggest headache about shipping to Amazon directly is that, depending on your product type, there is a very good chance that Amazon will request your items to be shipped to multiple FCs (Fulfillment Centers). This is especially true for oversize items.
You can determine if Amazon will want you to ship to multiple FCs by creating a shipment within Amazon (do not approve the shipment).
Why Multiple FCs and How to Avoid it?
Amazon typically requires you to ship to multiple FCs for oversize items and/or if you mix a shipment with items requiring prep/not requiring prep.
How do you avoid shipping to multiple FCs?
- Avoid combining oversize and standard size items
- Avoid combining shipments that need prep and don’t need prep
- Turn inventory placement on
- Use Amazon Dragon Boat (Amazon Global Logistics)
If you’re shipping oversize items, unfortunately, you are going to likely be stuck shipping to multiple FCs and it’s hard to ship direct to Amazon without turning on inventory placement.
To turn on Inventory Placement, go to to Settings -> Fulfillment by Amazon. This will make all of your items go to one distribution center.
Inventory Placement can be pricey: For non-oversize items, it’s $0.40 per item + $0.10 per pound over 2 lbs. For oversized items, it is $1.30 per item + $0.20 per pound over 5 lbs. You can only turn on Inventory Placement for some shipments: just turn on Inventory Placement, create the shipment, and then turn it off. Only those items will be charged the above fees.
If you use Amazon Global Logistics (the Dragon Boat) for your shipments, Amazon will automatically give you “FC Lock” meaning your shipments will go to only one Amazon warehouse. Enrolling in Amazon Global Logistics is normally reserved only for Chinese sellers, but in our Importing Course we show you how Western sellers can get enrolled.
There are also a few blackhat workarounds that we do not encourage as they can very likely get you in trouble with Amazon:
- Ignore the additional FCs and just ship to one
- Send in a dummy oversize item in a standard size box and have it measured by Amazon. Amazon will think your items are standard size until they re-measure your items. Make sure to recall your dummy item before you sell it.
- Use software like SellerChain.com which can sometimes use a backdoor to get shipments to one FC
The other danger in sending items directly to Amazon is that you will have no opportunity to inspect them domestically prior to them arriving at Amazon. If sending direct to Amazon from China I highly recommend using a third party inspection company in China such as with QIMA (formally AsiaInspection). At a very minimum, ask for detailed pictures from your supplier of all packaging and products before shipment.
The other major issue is that by asking your supplier to apply FBA labels to all of your items they now know that you’re an Amazon seller. There’s a possibility that your supplier may think “Oh, maybe I should just sell directly to Amazon FBA”. And a lot of Chinese suppliers are now starting to do this.
Three Easy Steps to Ship Direct to Amazon from China
Below will outline how to ship direct to China using sea or air shipping. If you’d like to ship full containers to Amazon you can see our full article on how to ship full containers direct from China to Amazon FBA.
Create your shipment in Seller Central. Ensure you are shipping only to one FC if shipping via sea freight. Use a southern California Ship From address such as the address below. This increases the likelihood of you being able to ship to a California FC, which is the most efficient distance wise from China (Amazon does not care what address you put here as you cannot use partnered carriers).