Amazon shipments get refused for three main reasons: because you have outstanding duties or fees, it fell outside of an allowable period, or because you used a carrier unfamiliar with Amazon's requirements. This article explores these reasons in detail and tells you everything you need to know about Amazon FBA pallet delivery.
A returned Amazon shipment is a waste of time and money. Delivery drivers waste their time dealing with staff, you have to pay those return to sender fees, and you have to deal with a massive delay in your Amazon store that might lead to stockouts.
Subsequently, your next step is to figure out why your Amazon shipment was refused in the first place to establish how you can prevent it from happening again.
Why Do Amazon Shipments Get Refused?
There are three main reasons why Amazon shipments get refused. 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 is not clear, you will need to contact the receiving team at your local fulfillment center. The delivery driver returning the packages might also provide a signed note detailing why your shipment receives a rejection. This first section explains why Amazon shipments get refused and offers recommendations on addressing such refusals.
1. Amazon Shipments Refused Due to Outstanding Duties or Fees
International shipments always come with fees related to the value of the goods inside. For example, if the value of those goods exceeds a threshold of $800, there will be duties and fees required before the shipment can be complete.
Because Amazon does not 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 pay it before the shipment can be released.
This threshold is one reason it is so lucrative to start an eCommerce business in the US. Unfortunately, those in other countries are not 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 in preventing problems.
What to do? 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 minimis 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 will need to adjust your strategy to prevent delays for this delivery service. You can find out your country's de minimis limits by contacting a local shipment company. If you work with a preferred carrier, contact them for information.
2. 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 will 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 one part of the battle; the other part is sticking with partnered carriers.
What to do? Fixing a return due to cancellation requires greater expediency in shipment time. This fixing includes using Amazon Carrier Central to schedule deliveries early. You will not have to worry about this if you use a private carrier that prides itself on practicality.
If you ship using an overseas provider, utilize AGL for overseas limitations. Try and ensure that your shipment reaches the nearest coastal region. For example, 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 will not have to worry about getting inventory to your closest fulfillment location.
3. Amazon Shipments Refused Due to Usage of Unaffiliated Carrier
Amazon has strict guidelines for getting stock to its fulfillment centers. Unfortunately, unaffiliated carriers (like the post office) do not have those guidelines on hand. Sometimes, those carriers do not care to follow Amazon's policies.
Therefore, you are better off working with Amazon's partnered carriers as they know the giant retailer's unique packing and prep requirements.
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. Regrettably, USPS does not have the same distinction.
Partnered carriers support three distinct types of shipments:
- Small Parcel Deliveries (SPDs) - Smaller shipments sent via UPS.
- Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) - Full pallets shipped in the same truck alongside other pallets.
- Full-Truckload (FTL) - Full pallets shipped in large quantities from more prominent providers.
Amazon works with more than 20 carriers through both the LTL and FTL programs.
What to do? If you receive a notice of improper packing, non-standard pallets, or other shipping issues, it is 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 using their preferred carriers. Check out DataHawk’s blog on the subject if you want to know more.
What if using a preferred carrier is not an option? Amazon works with over 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 information on packing and handling pallets. If you are a visual learner, they provide helpful videos that give you (or your shipment partner) details on what needs to be done. Amazon also has differing rules for ASINs depending on how you sell.
Why Does Amazon Reject Non-Partnered Carrier Shipments?
When rejecting shipments, it almost always comes down to non-partners handling the cargo. As stated earlier, non-partners are not aware of Amazon's unique requirements. However, Amazon does not mess around when enforcing those requirements.
These requirements are fundamental when receiving international shipments. For example, private label sellers typically order from sites like Alibaba. Yet many manufacturers are based in China and do not know about those requirements.
You can teach them, but there is always a chance that they will miss some things. So, that is why you need to have initial shipments sent to your place or use the AGL to ensure you meet requirements.
What if I Ship Internationally?
If you handle international shipments, congratulations on the success of your store. However, if that is not the case, 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.
What Is an Amazon FBA Pallet Delivery?
Amazon FBA pallet delivery is when you ship several boxes to another location. Stacking boxes on a pallet saves time and money when shipping, handling, and storing goods. Pallet deliveries work to secure the load of multiple goods, and they are typically the favored transportation method for many businesses. An Amazon FBA pallet delivery is used for large or heavy items that a courier would have a hard time transporting.
Amazon’s FBA Pallet Delivery 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.
- Do not use cheaper pallet material (cardboard, plastic, particleboard, etc.)
- Grocery pallets require GMA 1A grade pallets
- 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.
Packaging Requirements to Avoid ASIN and Shipment Rejection
Amazon has strict requirements regarding how to handle its inventory. Given the wide variety of sellers they work with regularly, they need to maintain efficiency. Otherwise, Amazon shipments would be chaotic, 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.
Amazon has particular rules about selling sets vs. individual items.
First, know that these two distinct sales types require two different ASINs. You cannot use the same identifier for a set vs. an individual item, even if they are the same thing.
It would be best to be sure that your sets are clearly labeled. For example, you cannot 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 barcode 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 that have multiple individual items 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.
Amazon Shipment FAQs
What Is a 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 will need another truck to 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 to correct the error. Given that the 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?
Follow the Amazon TOS to determine the refund policy if the customer rejects a shipment. 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. However, given that most customers do not like to be charged for anything they are not 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 is best to focus on preferred carriers that know Amazon's unique requirements to handle this. With preferred carriers, you do not 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 performance awareness. Using devices like DataHawk's Amazon Ranking tool allows you to keep a close eye on performance metrics to know how to keep up. It is essential to be ahead of the curve apropos to inventory problems.
This article covers everything you need to know about Amazon Inventory...