require tracking on $10 items from 12/10/2016

Amazon LogisticsIn just over a month’s time, merchants selling in the US will have to consider tracking for light weight items.

Amazon have announced that from the 12th of October their package tracking requirement will extend to small and light items that are priced over $10 USD (including shipping). This is a change from the previous policy that tracking would not be required for any items that fit in a USPS Standard Mail envelope or First Class Mail envelope.

To emphasise the point Amazon said “Small and light items under $10 in price (including shipping) can still be shipped in USPS Standard Mail envelopes or First Class Mail envelopes without tracking; however, starting on the date listed above, we will require tracking for small and light items over $10, just as we do for the catalog in general“.

If you don’t comply you may lose selling right

After the 12th of October, if you aren’t providing tracking on 95% of your items in a given category (including small and light items over $10), Amazon warn that you risk losing your ability to sell non-FBA items within that category.

Justification for tracking requirement

Amazon say that they display “package tracking information buyers because we find that being able to check an order’s shipment status and not worry about its whereabouts creates a better experience for buyers. This peace of mind is especially important for higher-priced orders“.

Benefits to the seller are according to Amazon:
1. Decreased order defects and better seller feedback ratings
2. Fewer buyer messages
3. Reduced lost shipment costs
4. Improved conversion

Amazon Upset the Environmentalists

Amazon acknowledge that if you choose to fulfil the tracking requirement by shipping your item as a parcel, there may be a $1-2 increase in base shipping cost but then you’ll will receive complimentary tracking on the parcel from USPS.

In a move which will enrage every environmentally concerned body, Amazon suggest that “You can access parcel rates while using the same packaging that you typically use by wrapping your item lightly in bubble wrap before putting it in the packaging, such that the thickness is more than 3/4″ thick“.

What does it mean for merchants?

This is going to kill some merchants who previously shipped for around $0.50 and will now face a cost of $2.60 for parcel prices.

For sellers with products selling for around $10 (including shipping) there are now two options – drop the price to $9.99 to fall beneath the $10 threshold, or raise prices to $12+ to cover the higher postage cost.

The other option of course is to simply dump your stock into FBA and make the shipping Amazon’s problem. While there are FBA costs to consider at least you’ll access Amazon’s rates and have a lot less work to do when an order comes in.