Selling through FBA has a lot of advantages (which is why we use it). However, being an FBA seller means you have to adhere to whatever policy changes Amazon decides to drop. Recently, a policy change regarding canceled or deleted shipments left some sellers scratching their heads.
What Is the Policy Change About?
Starting April 1, 2022, canceled or deleted shipments sent to Amazon may be rejected and sellers’ ability to send in additional shipments may also be suspended if they continue violating the policy after their first email notification.
These are actions considered to be non-compliant with the policy:
- Deleting some of the shipments in a multi-destination shipping plan after you approve it
- Deleting portions of a shipping plan
- If Amazon doesn’t receive all of the shipments in the approved multi-destination plans within 30 days after the first shipment in the said plan arrives in the facility
The only listed exception is if one or more shipments is delayed solely because of the action or omission of an Amazon partnered carrier.
There’s emphasis on actions that delay the receipt of inventory such as misrouting shipments, deleting approved shipping plans, and sending incomplete shipments, i.e., those that were canceled or deleted.
To prevent delays, Amazon recommends doing the following:
- When creating a shipping plan, specify the quantity, content, and other information that might affect the distribution of the shipments.
- After approving the shipping plan, be sure to send the shipment to the assigned fulfillment center with the quantity and content specified in the plan.
- After approving a multi-destination shipping plan, do not delete any part of the shipment or send the shipment along a different route.
- Make sure your FBA box ID label is clearly visible.
- Communicate with your carrier to ensure that your shipment is delivered to the address on the FBA box ID label as soon as possible, no later than 30 days.
Fortunately, if your ability to send in your inventory is suspended, you can acknowledge the FBA policy through an email and, as with any Amazon suspension, provide a Plan of Action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
The Reason Behind the Policy Change
While it was not mentioned in the announcement, we can surmise that this policy was made to address a long-time problem with some sellers who want to get around restrictions.
Inventory from third-party sellers are delivered to multiple fulfillment centers to ensure fast delivery to customers. However, in order to circumvent stock limits, some sellers create shipments then cancel them, but send out the inventory anyways. Amazon will usually still accept them.
This tactic that’s been used by some sellers for a while, and it seems like Amazon is ready to get serious in resolving this issue.
What Sellers Think of the Policy Change
As expected, sellers who replied to the announcement were not too happy. Some were asking for clarifications, while others pointed out that there are legitimate reasons for cancelling or deleting shipments, e.g., adjusting the quantity and making honest mistakes in its preparation.
However, Amazon did say that sellers will be notified by email and that they can make small changes in quantity. However, they limit it to ±5% the original amount within a shipment, up to 10 units.
In addition, this policy change also highlights the issue that Amazon automatically closes shipments after 90 days, which is too short for those importing from China, which a lot of third-party sellers are doing.
Some sellers have called out Amazon on dropping this policy change without addressing a more pressing concern—missing and stolen inventory.
Related Reading: Inside an Amazon FBA Warehouse
As it stands, there are still some things that are not clear about this new FBA shipment policy change. How serious will Amazon be in punishing sellers who break these policies? After all, the verbiage used was “your shipments may be rejected.”
Knowing that there are legitimate reasons for cancelling shipments, what do you think of this policy change? Do you think it will greatly affect your business as an Amazon seller?