How to Ship from Alibaba to Amazon?
Many people are familiar with Alibaba, the world’s largest online marketplace, but may not be as familiar with shipping from Alibaba to Amazon. While it is possible to ship directly from Alibaba to Amazon, there are a few things you should know first.
In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about shipping from Alibaba to Amazon, including how to sell Alibaba products on Amazon, how to ship to amazon fba and faqs about shipping from alibaba to amazon. By the end of this post, you’ll be ready to start shipping from Alibaba to Amazon like a pro!
What is Alibaba?
Alibaba is a global business-to-business ecommerce platform that connects sellers and brands with manufacturers and suppliers for millions of products. If you want to create custom products for your brand, this is where you go.
Unlike traditional ecommerce websites like Amazon, where consumers make one-off purchases, Alibaba is a platform where businesses purchase products in bulk to resell online or in a brick-and-mortar store.
Alibaba connects you with different suppliers around the world so you can find quality products at extremely low prices — even if you don’t have a big brand! Whether you are the CEO of a large corporation or are running an Amazon business on your own, you can sign up and source products from Alibaba.
Why do Amazon sellers use Alibaba?
Many Amazon sellers use Alibaba to source products because of the simplicity of its user-friendly site and, well, the low prices. Most manufacturers that you come across on the platform will be based in China, where they can produce quality goods at a much more affordable price than, say, in the United States or Canada.
Any seller can go to Alibaba right now and search for the type of product they’re interested in selling and come across thousands of potential suppliers. Finding a manufacturer for your product has never been easier.
How to buy products from Alibaba and sell on Amazon?
Buying products from Alibaba and selling them on Amazon is a great way for entrepreneurs to jumpstart their online business. It is important to understand the process of researching hot selling products from Alibaba, assessing their quality, and making sure that they comply with Amazon’s standards before purchasing.
Whether you’re searching for economically priced products or the right manufacturers for your products, Alibaba facilitates eliminating the intermediaries. It allows for easy communication directly with wholesalers and manufacturers.
It is important to do your research before you buy any product. Try researching successful products that are already being sold on Amazon and see if Alibaba offers them as well. Make sure that the quality meets or exceeds Amazon’s standards, and look at reviews of the supplier you plan on purchasing from.
Your research should focus on finding products that have good potential to generate high-volume sales. You should be able to source it at low costs and be able to sell it at a price that earns you a good profit.
Make use of Amazon Best Seller lists and analyze competitor products for more insights. Additionally, focus on product niches that are not too saturated to avoid going head to head with multiple other sellers. Especially if you are a novice seller, you should try and find a gap in the market, so it will be easier for you to break in and start earning profits.
What types of products is Alibaba good for?
Use Alibaba if you are looking to create a private label product that is unique to your brand. If you have your own custom logo and/or design specs for a product, Alibaba is a great venue to find suppliers that can make your ideas become a reality.
DO NOT use Alibaba to purchase branded products. While there are many reputable suppliers on Alibaba, there are some who try to sell counterfeit products of big brands such as Disney or Nike. Some products could look tempting to sell, but you should refrain from pursuing this option. Selling counterfeit goods on Amazon is strictly prohibited, your Amazon seller account could be suspended and you’ll become permanently banned from selling on the platform if you ignore their anti-counterfeiting policy.
Head to Alibaba
Once you’ve identified a product that you’d like to source from Alibaba, head to their site in order to research the suppliers. Read reviews, check out quality assurance reports, and assess their communication skills. You also want to make sure that they offer competitive prices.
Firstly, set up an account on Alibaba. You don’t have to pay any charges or fees to do so. Creating an account allows you to easily communicate with suitable suppliers.
You can then begin by using the search bar to find the exact item that you are looking to sell. Alibaba will provide you with similar product categories and manufacturers. You can click on any one and additional information will be displayed about the product like any certifications, images of the manufacturing process, the length of the term that the manufacturer has been associated with Alibaba, etc.
You can also conduct your search by looking for suppliers instead of products if you’re looking for a more specialized, expert manufacturer.
Now, you can go about getting quotations and samples. Get in touch with sellers using the “Chat Now” option for more information about the quality of the product. Ask for samples as they are important to assess the product quality. Shortlist all the suppliers you want to contact, and ask them for quotations using the “request for quotation” option or contact the supplier manually.
You can then go about negotiating the prices and the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) as there are different prices quoted accordingly. Negotiation is an important part of sourcing from Amazon while also ensuring that you don’t compromise on quality as is the case very often.
When you find suitable suppliers, make sure you verify all the necessary details like whether they have the necessary shipping authorizations, trade insurance, and most importantly, they need to be familiar with the requirements of Amazon FBA.
Once you have acquired all the necessary manufacturer/supplier information, you can then proceed to finalize your purchases. The next most important question that many people have is “Can I ship directly from Alibaba to Amazon FBA?” Yes, you can have your orders shipped to an Amazon FBA warehouse. You must also take into account shipping costs from Alibaba to Amazon FBA. Your Amazon Seller Central account will have to be updated with all the information on the ‘Manage Inventory’ page. Mention the order quantity and do what is required with respect to product and shipping labels. Take into account customs as well and then just have your products shipped directly to the Amazon warehouse.
Can Alibaba Ship Direct To Amazon?
You can ship your products direct from Alibaba to Amazon which can save you both time and money.
However, shipping from Alibaba directly to Amazon may not be economical depending on…
Your Amazon Inventory Limits – New sellers may not be allowed to send bulk shipments to Amazon fulfillment centers.
Your Amazon Fulfillment Center Locations – Amazon may require you to send your inventory to multiple fulfillment centers which may be more expensive.
Here are the best ways to send your products from Alibaba to Amazon FBA depending on your situation.
Method #1: Ship Direct From Alibaba To Amazon FBA
The fastest way to get your products into an Amazon fulfillment center is by having your Alibaba supplier ship your inventory directly to Amazon from your factory in China.
To avoid mistakes, you must give your supplier specific instructions on how to prepare your inventory for Amazon FBA which includes following Amazon’s labeling requirements and packing specifications.
Most Alibaba verified suppliers are familiar with Amazon’s requirements. But you must coordinate with your China wholesale supplier to make sure all of your products are prepped correctly.
If your supplier makes any mistakes, Amazon may refuse your shipment.
Pros Of Shipping Direct To Amazon FBA
Cheapest way of sending your products to Amazon: By not involving a third party in the shipment process, you save on receiving, packaging, labeling, and storage fees.
Faster to receive goods: Because you are shipping direct to Amazon, you will save at least 1 to 2 weeks in transit time.
Less handling of goods: Since your inventory will be shipped straight to Amazon from the supplier, the chances of goods being damaged in transit are far lower.
Cons Of Shipping Direct To Amazon FBA
Logistical Challenges: In most cases, you will have to ship your inventory to multiple Amazon fulfillment centers which can be challenging to coordinate with your Alibaba supplier.
Inspections Are Necessary: If you ship from China direct to Amazon FBA, you won’t be able to check your inventory for damage during transport. If there’s a significant number of defective products in your shipment, you will get negative reviews and hurt your account. Before you ship from Alibaba to Amazon, you MUST hire an inspection company in China like Qima.
Your Supplier May Compete With You: If your supplier knows that you are selling on Amazon, they may compete with you. The number of Alibaba suppliers selling goods directly on Amazon in the US has increased over the years and your supplier has a big advantage on pricing.
How To Ship Direct To Amazon FBA From China
Due to inventory restrictions with Amazon fulfilment centers, you will likely not be allowed to ship full containers into Amazon FBA unless you sell in extremely high volume.
But you can ship pallets of merchandise to Amazon using the instructions below.
Step 1: Create A Shipment In Seller Central
When you create a shipment in Amazon Seller Central, the default inventory distribution setting is “Distributed Inventory Placement.”
Amazon will divide your inventory into multiple shipments and direct each shipment to a different Fulfillment Center or Receive Center (RC).
The location of these centers are selected based on your product size and shipping address. By distributing your products across multiple regions, Amazon can deliver your products to customers within 1-2 days via Amazon Prime.
However, creating multiple shipments can be expensive because it requires additional packing and shipping fees.
Amazon Inventory Placement
Amazon offers another option called the “Inventory Placement Service” where you can send all your inventory to a single Amazon Fulfillment Center(FC). Amazon then splits the stock and ships it to their FCs on your behalf.
Amazon charges a per unit fee for this service and the Amazon fees can get expensive.
For example, it costs an extra $0.40 + $0.10/lb over 2 lbs for standard size items. For oversized items, it costs $1.30 + $.20 per pound over 5 lbs.
Below is the fee table for Inventory Placement.
If any of your products require extra prep or labeling, your shipment may be divided into multiple shipments even if you choose the Inventory Placement Service.
Also, certain categories such as jewelry, apparel, shoes, and media are often directed to different Amazon warehouses irrespective of the distribution plan.
Using Inventory Placement Service makes sense when you have high margins and your products aren’t oversized. Inventory Placement also works well for small shipments with low-profit margins as you can avoid the high cost of multiple shipments.
Once you select your inventory distribution setting, set the “Ship from” address to a California address.
Doing so will give you a higher chance of being assigned a California fulfillment center which will save you money on transit costs and shipping times. (California is the closest state to China)
Step 2: Check Your Shipment Details With Your Alibaba Supplier
To prep your shipment for Amazon FBA Business, your Alibaba supplier needs to apply 3 types of labels:
Product labels (FNSKU Label)
Carton labels (on each box)
Pallet labels (4 per pallet, one on each side) if shipping pallets
You must ensure that your supplier labels everything correctly as your products will be shipped directly to Amazon FBA. Ask your Alibaba supplier to send images of every pallet, every box and a sampling of every product.
Also, make sure your supplier uses pallets that meet ISPM-15 regulations, which are set up to prevent pests through the wood used in packaging materials.
Here’s a link to Amazon’s packaging and prep requirements.
Be extra careful!
Step 3: Have Your Freight Forwarder Deliver Your Products To Amazon’s Warehouse
A freight forwarder is a shipping agent who collects your goods from China and ships them to Amazon’s warehouses directly.
Make sure your freight forwarder has experience shipping inventory to Amazon and knows the carrier appointment requirements.
If you’re looking for a freight forwarder, you can use a company like Honourocean. We will give you an all-in-one quote that includes pick up, storage, destination unloading, and customs clearance.
Note: If you’re using air freight, you must prepay all of the duties or make sure that all customs charges be billed to the sender. The commercial term for this is Delivery Duty Paid (DDP).
Amazon will refuse any inventory where the customs duties aren’t paid and will return the shipment to China. Make sure you use a DDP service from your freight forwarder.
When Should You Use Direct Amazon FBA Shipping?
You should use direct Amazon FBA shipping when:
You are in a rush to get your products in time for the holidays or a high traffic season.
You have a reliable Alibaba supplier and you’ve sourced goods from them before.
You have experience shipping products to Amazon FBA.
You want to save money shipping directly to Amazon FBA.
You are making a small shipment to Amazon valued at under $800 (This is the threshold for not having to pay customs duties).
Method #2: Use A 3PL Or Amazon FBA Prep Center
A 3PL is a third party logistics firm that stores and forwards your inventory to Amazon on your behalf. An Amazon FBA prep center is just a fancy name for a 3PL that specializes in shipping to Amazon FBA.
In this shipping model, your Alibaba supplier ships your inventory to your 3PL, who then inspects, labels, and consolidates the shipment or breaks it into smaller batches and preps it for Amazon FBA.
Because there are more steps involved, using a 3PL costs more than shipping your products directly to Amazon FBA. However, there are many advantages in doing so.
Pros Of Shipping To A Third Party Logistics (3PL) Company
Ability To Inspect Your Goods: Unlike the direct Amazon FBA method, you can ask your 3PL provider to check your inventory for faulty goods and discard them before they reach Amazon. Having this extra layer of quality control ensures that you are only sending high quality inventory.
Ease Of Delivery: Shipping to multiple Amazon Fulfillment Centers (FCs) is easy because your 3PL provider can sort the inventory and pack it as per FBA requirements. Because Amazon has strict inventory requirements on how much inventory you can send in, you can use your 3PL to drip inventory into Amazon FBA as needed.
Can Use Amazon Partnered Carriers: With a 3PL in the US, you can use the Amazon Partnered Carrier program, where Amazon ships small parcel deliveries (SPDs) and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments within the US at extremely cheap rates. In my experience, Amazon’s negotiated rates are less than half the cost of retail.
Cons Of Shipping To A Third Party Logistics (3PL) Company
More Expensive: Your third-party logistics firm will charge you a receiving fee (around $10 to $15 per pallet), handling fee, and outbound handling fee to pack and ship the products to Amazon FBA ($1 to $4 per carton). In addition, you also have labeling and storage fees.
Longer Lead Times: A 3PL requires 3 to 7 days to receive and pack your inventory. After your shipment is received, it takes another 2 to 3 days to ship your products to Amazon FBA. As a result, using a 3PL adds roughly a 1 to 2 week delay to the time required for your goods to reach Amazon.
More Touchpoints: The chances of your goods getting lost or damaged are higher since your inventory is shipped and unpacked more than once. Your 3PL may make mistakes during the process of unpacking, adding labels, repacking, and then sending your products to Amazon.
How To Use A 3PL To Send Your Goods To Amazon
Storing all of your products at an Amazon fulfillment center is expensive compared to most 3PLs. As a result, it may be more economical to store your goods at a 3PL and then make small shipments to Amazon as needed.
Here are step by step instructions on how to use a 3PL to send your products to Amazon FBA.
Step 1: Verify Shipment Details With Your Alibaba Supplier Before Export
Before you start shipping from Alibaba to Amazon, it’s important to double-check that all of your shipment details are correct with your supplier.
verifying the weight and dimensions of your products
checking for any quality concerns
confirming the total quantity of your order
By doing this step up front, you can save yourself time and money in the long run.
Since you’re hiring a 3PL firm to receive your inventory from China, you don’t need to ask your Alibaba supplier to prep your goods as per Amazon’s requirements.
But you should still ask your Alibaba supplier to send images of the cartons and pallets for your record and follow all labeling requirements for importing to the US.
Step 2: Freight Forwarder Ships Your Goods From China to 3PL
Hire a freight forwarder. A good freight forwarder will guide you through the import process as there are many forms to sign when importing from China.
Your agent will also keep you updated throughout the shipping process and arrange transportation from the port to the 3PL.
Most importantly, if anything goes wrong, your freight forwarder will sort out the issue and deliver your products as quickly as possible.
Step 3: 3PL Preps Your Goods And Sends It To Amazon
Once your 3PL receives your shipment from China, they will either warehouse your products or prep your products for shipment to Amazon.
The major advantage of using a local 3PL is that it’s much more cost effective to drip your inventory into Amazon’s warehouse compared to shipping small packages from China to Amazon.
Amazon’s strict warehousing limits will often prevent you from making large shipments direct from Alibaba to Amazon so using a 3PL may be cheaper depending on your situation.
Make sure you do your own due diligence before selecting a 3PL. It’s best to choose an Amazon prep center that is local to where you live so you can perform spot checks if necessary.
Here’s a checklist to follow before signing up with a logistics company:
Credit Rating: Check if the 3PL is doing well and not going out of business by using a service like Experian.
Years in business: Make sure your 3PL is not brand new and well equipped to handle large imports.
Customer reviews: Check online reviews to know if other reputable ecommerce companies are using them.
All 3PLs in the US are eligible for the Amazon Partnered Carrier program which provides heavy discounts on shipping.
When should you use 3PL or Amazon prep center?
You should use a 3PL or Amazon prep center when:
You’re new to selling on Amazon and have little experience importing goods from China. Your 3PL can inspect your goods and make sure your products are labelled correctly for FBA.
Your Amazon inventory limits are low. As a new seller, Amazon will not allow you to ship many units to FBA. As a result, your only option may be to send your goods to a 3PL first and then drip your inventory into Amazon FBA.
Your products require special handling. If your products require kitting or assembly, a 3PL can pack multiple products into a box for Amazon.
Shipping goods from Alibaba to Amazon FBA: key takeaways
Here’s a checklist of what you need when shipping your goods from Alibaba to Amazon FBA:
Make sure your Alibaba supplier has experience exporting goods to your country.
Ship from Alibaba to Amazon directly if you have experience importing inventory from China and need the goods urgently.
Ship from Alibaba to a 3PL if you’re a new seller with low Amazon inventory limits.
Always use a freight forwarder for a hassle-free import process.
Always hire an inspector in China.
Double and triple check that your products are labelled properly before they are shipped to Amazon.
Make sure all custom duties are paid prior to shipping to Amazon FBA.
Frequently Asked Questions about shipping from Alibaba to Amazon FBA
Is it safe to source products from Alibaba to Amazon FBA?
Yes, as long as you do your due diligence and ensure that the products you purchase from Alibaba meet Amazon’s quality standards. It’s important to research the suppliers thoroughly before making any purchases and make sure they are reliable and trustworthy.
When in doubt, use a third-party inspection service like SGS or Intertek to verify product quality before shipping. The best thing about using Alibaba is that it offers Trade Assurance . This means that if your order is late, or the quality control isn’t satisfactory, you will be entitled to your money back.
Additionally, you should always check the product reviews on Amazon before making a purchase to ensure that your customers will be satisfied with their purchases.
How do you pay Alibaba suppliers?
When ordering from Alibaba, most vendors accept payment via
Bank Transfer (TT)
Escrow (Alibaba Secure Payment service)
Alibaba Trade Insurance is another payment option that aims to protect buyers. It is applicable only so long as you use the secure payment gateway on Alibaba.com and not through any outside channel. This option compensates for any losses you may incur in case of delay in shipping time, damaged or wrong products, etc. It protects buyers from fraudsters and ensures refunds. The problems with Trade Assurance are that all suppliers are not willing to participate in it and the ones who do, have higher prices for products as a result of partaking in this policy method.
Be sure to read the terms and conditions that come with each payment method before making a purchase. Some vendors may also accept other forms of payment such as wire transfers or Bitcoin.
Risks associated with sourcing from alibaba and how to avoid them
When sourcing from Alibaba, it’s important to be aware of potential risks and how to mitigate them. There are a few common issues that can arise when shipping from Alibaba to Amazon:
• Fake or low-quality products – While there are measures in place to protect buyers on Alibaba, it’s still possible for unscrupulous suppliers to pass off fake or low-quality products as the real thing. To protect yourself, make sure you do your due diligence and research potential suppliers before committing to a purchase.
• Shipping delays – Shipping from China can be unpredictable, with customs delays, bad weather, and other issues all potentially complicating matters. It’s important to factor in shipping delays when planning for your Amazon launch, and work with a reliable freight forwarder to ensure that your items arrive on time.
• Product inconsistency – When shipping from Alibaba to Amazon, there can be discrepancies between what you ordered and what you received.
To avoid this problem, make sure you communicate clear specifications to your supplier and inspect every shipment before it leaves the warehouse.
How to track the shipment to amazon fBA from China?
Once your shipment has left the warehouse, it’s important to keep track of its progress. The best way to do this is by using a tracking number, which you should receive from your supplier. This tracking number can be used to track the shipment with China Post or any other courier service that you are using. It will also enable Amazon to track the package once it arrives in their fulfillment center. You can also contact your supplier directly for updates, although it’s likely that they will be as in the dark about the shipment’s progress as you are.
Another option is to use a third-party tracking service like 17TRACK or AfterShip, which offer real-time updates on packages’ whereabouts. These services are especially useful for international shipments, as they provide more detailed tracking information than the traditional couriers do.
Finally, if you’re using Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service, you can track your shipment directly from your Seller Central account. This will give you a clear overview of when the package arrives at the Amazon fulfillment center and when it is scheduled to be delivered to your customer.
How to vet alibaba suppliers?
In order to buy from Alibaba safely, you should check the Alibaba supplier ratings.
Make sure your Alibaba supplier is a…
Verified Supplier: These suppliers pay a premium to be pre-qualified by Alibaba.
Trade Assurance Supplier: This rating provides fraud protection where Alibaba refunds you if the products are not as described or don’t arrive on time.
Assessed Supplier: A third-party inspection company has visited the supplier’s warehouse with full reports accessible via the Alibaba website.
How long does it take to ship from China to the US?
There are 3 ways to ship your inventory from China to the US. Here are your options.
Air express shipping
Air express from China to the US using carriers like DHL, FedEx, and UPS is extremely expensive, but end-to-end delivery time is less than 7 days. Air express is a good option if you need your products quickly.
Air freight from China to the US using commercial airlines takes 8 to 10 days for delivery. Air freight is economical when your shipping volume is between 200 to 500 kilograms.
Ocean freight is by far the slowest mode of transportation which takes more than 30 days to deliver your goods. However, sea shipping is usually the cheapest way to ship from China for shipments over 200 kgs.
How do I have my imports inspected?
You can use an inspection service like QIMA to inspect your products at the factory before they are shipped. A typical inspection costs around $300 per 8 hour day.
The $300 pricing includes all expenses, including transportation. You’ll most likely not need more than a day’s worth of inspection.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a professional inspection service, ask your supplier to make a live video of the following:
Opening of cartons and products
Product labels and carton labels
Should I buy freight insurance?
Yes, you should always buy freight insurance for the following reasons:
Your pallet will be handled many times before reaching Amazon FCs, so the chances of damages are higher.
The cost is extremely inexpensive for the peace of mind it brings.
Freight insurance will cover door-to-door deliveries, including pickup and the value of products.
Shipping from Alibaba to Amazon can be a great way for businesses to access quality products at low prices. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with international shipping and take steps to mitigate them. With the right planning and preparation, you can ensure that your shipments arrive on time and in good condition, allowing you to focus on selling your products and maximizing profits. Good luck!