A returned Amazon shipment is an absolute waste of time and money. Delivery drivers waste their time dealing with the staff, you have to pay those return to sender fees, and you've got a massive delay on your Amazon store that might lead to stockouts.
Your first step in solving this riddle is to find out why Amazon rejected your shipment. This article plans on covering all of the potential happenings for refused Amazon shipments and what you need to do to prevent this from happening again.
1. Why Amazon Shipments Get Refused
There are three common reasons Amazon refuses your shipments:
- You have outstanding duties or fees (due to overseas shipment)
- Amazon canceled your shipment after falling outside of an allowable period
- You are using a carrier unfamiliar with Amazon's requirements (non-partnered)
Let's dig into the deals of all three situations:
Amazon Delivery Refused Because of Outstanding Duties or Fees
International shipment always comes with a fee related to the value of the inside goods. If the value of those goods exceeds a threshold of $800, there will be duties and fees required before shipment can be complete.
Because Amazon doesn't like paying your bills, they will reject the shipment if anything is due upon arrival. Thankfully, this is uncommon due to the US's high de minimis threshold.
A de minimis threshold refers to a specific amount (like $800 in the US) of taxes and fees due before a shipment can be released. If your load exceeds this threshold, you will need to make payment before the shipment is released.
This threshold is one reason it's so lucrative to start an eCommerce business in the US. Unfortunately, those in other countries aren't so lucky. For example, Canadian Amazon sellers have a staggeringly low $20 de minimis threshold, meaning Amazon businesses are tricky in the country.
Being aware of your threshold is the first step you need to prevent problems.
Amazon Shipments Refused Due to Cancellation
Amazon FBA sellers are subject to Amazon's strict requirements of getting a shipment in on time. To increase efficiency and encourage sellers and vendors to do the same, you must deliver FBA shipments within 90 days. Failure to meet those demands will result in canceled and rejected Amazon shipments.
Amazon allows you to track this time using Amazon Carrier Central. From there, you'll be able to establish appointments for freight shipments. Scheduling helps avoid many complications from bothering with the 90-day window, as you know when things should arrive.
Tracking is part of the battle. The other part is sticking with partnered carriers.
Usage of A Carrier Not Partnered with Amazon
Amazon has strict guidelines for getting stock to its fulfillment centers. Unfortunately, non-partnered carriers (like the post office) don't have those guidelines on hand. Sometimes, those carriers don't care to follow Amazon's policies.
To address this, you are better suited to working with one of those partnered carriers. Partnered carriers know about the unique packing and prep requirements behind the giant retailer.
Amazon has incentives for choosing to work with partnered carriers, so there are plenty of reasons for you to stick with them. UPS is one of the most common ones, as they typically ship smaller counts of units to Amazon. Unfortunately, USPS doesn't have the same distinction.
Partnered Carriers support three distinct types of shipments:
- Small Parcel Deliveries (SPDs) - These are smaller shipments sent via UPS.
- Less-Than-Truckload (LTLs) - Full pallets shipped alongside other pallets in the same truck.
- Full-Truckload (FTLs) - Full pallets shipped in large quantities from more prominent providers.
Amazon works with more than 20 carriers through both the LTL and FTL programs.
2. What if I Ship Internationally?
If you handle international shipments, we want to wish you congratulations on the success of your store! But when it comes to shipping, Amazon simplifies measures with the Amazon Global Logistics (AGL) program.
AGL is your one-stop shop for handling imports into and out of the US. You can acquire quotes and schedule freight deliveries of large quantities of items through their portal.
To address some of the complexities of international shipping, Amazon's service provider network (SPN) has an international shipping category to help handle detailed complications.
3. Why Does Amazon Reject Non-Partnered Carrier Shipments?
When rejecting shipments, it almost always comes down to non-partners handling the cargo. As we've stated, non-partners aren't aware of Amazon's unique requirements. Amazon does not mess around when it comes to enforcing those requirements.
These requirements are fundamental when receiving international shipments. For example, private label sellers typically order from sites like Alibaba. Many manufacturers are based in China and don't know about those requirements.
You can teach them, but there's always a chance that they will miss some things. That's why you need to have initial shipments sent to your place or use the AGL to ensure you meet requirements.
4. Amazon's Pallet Requirements
Amazon also has a thing about rejecting pallets. Here are some excerpts from their pallet requirements section you should be aware of:
- You cannot use pallet-sized boxes
- You must use 40 x 48 wooden pallets with four-way access.
- Don't use cheaper pallet material (cardboard, plastic, particleboard, etc.)
- Grocery pallets require GMA 1A grade pallets
- You need pallets with seven boards on top
- Stringers should be there for extra support
- No overhanging pallets
- ASINs must be separated (to provide clarity for fulfillment center employees)
- Have a pack height of 50 inches (or lower)
- All boxes need to be flushed
- Cannot exceed 1500 lbs
Amazon prioritizes the safety of its workforce when it comes to accepting pallets. Failure to follow through will result in you paying for return postage.
What Can You Do About Refused Shipments at Amazon?
What you can do in response to returned shipments depends on the problem. Typically, your shipment will sport a rejected "stamp" that details what went wrong. If that information isn't clear, you will need to contact the receiving team at your local fulfillment center.
The delivery driver returning said packages might also provide a signed note detailing why your shipment receives a rejection. Below will describe how you can address the reasons above.
5. What Do I Do If I Receive a Return Due to Duties and Fees?
If you receive a return due to international duties and fees, it helps to understand how the value of the shipment went over the de minimus threshold. Having an understanding of how your shipment exceeded this will allow you to take one of two options:
- You could choose to have the goods shipped to your house for breakdown into smaller shipments.
- You could choose to control the portion of goods shipped to stay below de minimis thresholds.
Regardless, you'll need to adjust your strategy to prevent delays for this delivery service. You can find out your country's de minimus limits by reaching out to a local shipment company. If you work with a preferred carrier, contact them for information.
6. What Do I Do If I Receive a Return Due to Cancellation?
Fixing a return due to cancellation requires greater expediency in shipment time. This fixing includes using Amazon Carrier Central to schedule deliveries early. By utilizing a private carrier who prides itself on practicality, you won't have to worry.
If you ship using an overseas provider, utilize AGL for overseas limitations. Try and ensure that your shipment reaches the nearest coastal region. If you are shipping from China, use a California-based FBA facility for quick response times.
Professional FBA sellers have their shipments automatically distributed to multiple FBA centers depending on the item type. So you won't have to worry about getting inventory to your closest fulfillment location.
7. What Do I Do If I Receive A Return Due to Non-Preferred Carrier?
If you receive a notice of improper packing, non-standard pallet, or other shipping issues, it's related to having a non-preferred carrier. As you might imagine, the desired solution for Amazon is for you to use one of their preferred carriers. So switching to those carriers provides the most reasonable solution.
If you happen to be a member of the Amazon FBA new selection program, Amazon provides credits to shipments for using their preferred carriers. Check out our blog on the subject if you want to find out more.
8. What Do I Do If Using A Preferred Carrier Is Not An Option?
Amazon works with more than 20 carriers in the US, so not finding one would be a bit rare. However, some who live in remote areas might not have the option. This situation is less of a problem for private label sellers, as they work internationally.
In this case, you will want to do one of two things:
- Have your available shipping service familiarize themselves with Amazon's strict requirements
- Handle the packing and assembly of pallets and ASINs yourself
Amazon has a full tutorial that provides you information on how to pack and handle pallets. If you are a visual learner, they provide helpful videos that give you (or your shipment partner) details on what needs to be appropriately done.
Amazon also has differing rules for ASINs depending on how you sell.
9. Packaging and Prep Requirements To Keep In Mind To Avoid ASIN and Shipment Rejection
Amazon has strict requirements regarding how its inventory is handled. Given the wide variety of sellers they work with regularly, they need to maintain efficiency. Otherwise, Amazon shipments would be chaos, and the world's largest logistics company could not be effective.
Below are some tips and tricks you can keep in mind to avoid returns with smaller items.
Understand Sold as Set vs. Individually Sold
Amazon has particular rules about selling sets vs. individual items.
First, know that these two distinct sales types. That means they require two different ASINs. You can't use the same identifier for a set vs. an individual item, even if they are the same thing.
It would be best if you also were sure that your sets are clearly labeled. You can't tape a bunch of small boxes together. Instead, it would help if you had a sticker or some other indicator making it blatant that you are selling a set.
Choose Quality Bubble Wrap
Amazon has specific requirements for testing bubble wrap. Those requirements require the bubble wrap to pass a three-foot drop test to a hard surface. This hard service can be concrete or wood, but your product must survive the sudden exposure to gravity.
Amazon will require bubble wrap during the shipment of fragile items. Ensure that the bubble wrap is tight with a scannable bar code on the outside.
Remove Hangers from Most Apparel
Amazon requires you to remove hangers from most apparel. Hangers are "pokey," making them mostly unsafe for shipping.
- There are a few exceptions to this rule:
- Mini-hangers for baby clothes
- Suits or suit jackets
- Dresses at $300 (or more)
- Dresses that contain damageable material if stored flat
- Leather, fur, or wool outerwear worth more than $300
- Other miscellaneous apparel worth more than $300
Given the high-quality demands of expensive clothing, Amazon typically leaves most exceptions under this category.
Be Aware of Case-Packed Product Needs
Case-packed products are those multiple individual items are in the same box. Each particular product needs to have a barcode and a matching SKU. It also needs to be packaged by the original manufacturer of the item; otherwise, it falls under set packaging rules.
You can also ship a maximum of 150 units, and Amazon will scan only one unit to indicate inventory. It is allowed to ship multiple case packs in the same box.
Be Aware of Unique Demands for Baby Products
Baby products are a unique niche that is relatively easy to get into for new sellers. Any product for kids four and under is under the "baby" category. There are two requirements for this:
- You need a transparent sealed bag that is no more than 1.5 mil.
- You need a warning label for suffocation on that bag.
Bags should not go beyond three inches of a product.
10. Amazon Shipment FAQs
What is Freight Class?
Freight class refers to the cost of a shipment based on weight and risk level. Types go from 50 to 500.
You can estimate your weight class and cost using the "Estimate My Freight Class" button under Amazon Seller Central. Amazon will clarify the cost of the weight class with you before selecting any shipment options.
What is the Maximum Shipment Requirement for Fulfillment Centers?
Under FTL shipments, Amazon will not allow you to send more than 5000 units. If you want to ship more than 5000 units, you'll need another truck that can handle this shipment.
Do Shipping Delays Affect My Seller Ranking?
Shipping delays are a natural part of doing business. Regardless, shipping delays do impact seller ranking. Still, FBA sellers get the best possible outcome compared to other items fulfilled by individual merchants (FMB).
In 2020, Amazon went through many shipping delays as the eCommerce market exploded. COVID presented a unique challenge for Amazon that they still need to address.
Will There Be Multiple Delivery Attempts for a Rejected Delivery?
Because Amazon provided notice to the delivery driver that there was a rejection, there will only be one delivery attempt to an FBA center in the event of a refusal. Delivery people are instructed to provide that information to you immediately so that you might correct the error.
Given that Fulfillment Center is open during regular operating hours, you will rarely see a failure in delivery due to nobody picking it up.
What if the Customer Rejects a Shipment?
If the customer rejects a shipment, follow the Amazon TOS to determine the refund policy. In some cases, you can charge the customer a restocking fee to address the total shipping cost. This assumes the customer didn't label the package as damaged or incorrect on arrival.
Amazon heavily favors the custom in cases of shipment issues. Keep in mind that if you request a restocking fee, the consumer has the right to review your product. Given that most customers don't like to be charged for anything they aren't using, you might not like the review results from making that decision.
Dealing with returned deliveries from your fulfillment centers can put a screeching halt to your business. In addition, rejected Amazon shipments can result in poor customer service experiences and increased delivery times. Even worse, stockouts can destroy your Amazon listing, dropping the buy box to other carriers who can address your inventory issues.
It's best to focus on preferred carriers that know Amazon's unique requirements to handle this. With preferred carriers, you don't have to worry about hunting around for someone willing to confirm Amazon's shipment needs. Instead, they already have a deal doing it with you and other Amazon sellers.
Part of this comes back to an awareness of performance. Using tools like DataHawk's Amazon Ranking tool allows you to keep a close eye on performance metrics to know how to keep up. Regarding inventory problems, it's essential to be ahead of the curve. Thanks for reading