Amazon UK Partnered Carrier Programme
Amazon tell us that they are constantly looking for ways to make Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) as simple and as cost effective as possible. To this end they have just introduced a Partnered Carrier Programme (PCP) in the UK now available to all UK sellers giving them access to preferred transportation rates negotiated by Amazon with well-known international carrier UPS. This will initially cover shipment of small parcels into Amazon Fulfilment Centres (FCs) in the UK from a UK address.
Benefits of the Partnered Carrier programme include:
- Optimal service level with a carrier familiar with Amazon delivery appointments and inbound procedures. Amazon FCs will be able to process your shipments and make your inventory available for sale faster than before.
- Very competitive pricing.
- Amazon will take over responsibility for dealing with lost or damaged inventory in line with its standard FBA policy.
- Increased visibility as UPS’ tracking number will automatically be linked to your shipment and appear in the shipping workflow. You will able to track your shipment in Seller Central from the time it leaves your premises until it is received by Amazon’s FC.
- Easy sign up online during the shipment creation process and automatic billing at discounted rates
- Very fast pick up times. Simple contact process with UPS for shipment pick up from your premises
- No minimum commitment necessary. You can opt to use PCP on a per shipment basis
You should now be able to choose this option when you create your next shipment to an Amazon FC. Simply follow the step by step instructions in Seller Central. You will receive a fee estimate online once you input details of the consignment and can then decide if you wish to use the PCP for that particular shipment.
Amazon value feedback from their sellers. If after using the programme you have comments or suggestions about how they might improve it even further you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing products for FBA and dispatching products to a fulfilment centres are currently separate processes and although seriously interested in the partnered carrier program I have reservations.
During the preparation process an FBA seller needs to identify which carrier will be transporting the products, but doesn’t need to give a dispatch date.
Until such time that the seller presses the (Shipped) option they can amend, add or subtract products from a shipment. For example a seller might pack products only to find they have additional space in a box and choose to add products to that shipment.
Within our business we ship two or three boxes to fulfilment centres every day by Parcel force. Whilst waiting for collection we will be preparing the next days shipment. By separating the preparation of product boxes from the ready for collection boxes we have a system which works because preparation and dispatch are separate processes.
Additionally Amazon could easily provide some examples of pricing for comparison. Most FBA seller sending single box submissions will be packing products up to the maximum 15 kilo limit and an example of the cost of one 15 kilo box should be easy to identify.
I would imagine the volumetric calculation will be taken into account for this due to the massive variations in types of stock being transported.
I doubt the Amazon pricing will be competitive with carrier contract rates however this does open the door to virtually anyone to buy a box of stock and start selling on Amazon. I am not sure I like the opening up of an already competitive marketplace to those who may not have the overheads of an actual business. We will have to see what kind of effect this has on the wider Amazon economy.
For info the Amazon email address doesn’t work. Much the same as the Partnered Carrier Programme.
Well we are looking closely at this right now and will probably undertake a test delivery very soon.
There is an interesting thread on the Amazon UK Seller Discussion Forum FBA about this that is worth checking out.
Basically early adopters are seeing what look to be competitive prices per parcel collected & delivered by UPS.
It also includes inbound insurance which will be useful to some without UK wide shipping insurance themselves.
To early to see if Amazon FBA are also giving priority to UPS inbound shipments but that could be a killer punch at busy times of the year.
Clearly it hinges on the size and weight of your FBA stock and existing carrier pricing so for large multiple parcel consignments it not may prove to be such a good deal.
However we plan to find out if it will save us money and it deserves to be checked out carefully.
We have had the chance to benchmark this using our normal courier versus UPS via Amazon on one of our FBA shipments.
Total weight was around 280Kg in over 30 packing cartons of various sizes and individual weights and insurance was also included.
Our courier was just over 20% cheaper than the UPS quote via the Amazon system!
So we won’t be changing over anytime soon.
It is possible that if you are an existing UPS account holder you may get even better rates as the Amazon blurb in the US talks about different levels of discount but how you access that when doing your shipment here in the UK escaped us.
The UPS option is also painful in that you have to input every box weight and its dimensions rather than just say 50 boxes with total weight of 500Kg which some couriers allow and that is a real timesaver for us.
In addition for every box we did it indicated there might be an excess weight surcharge which was somewhat off putting as these are standard shipping cartons and can be lifted by one person – they are not ‘heavy items’ in carrier speak.
The UPS system also distinguishes between the total shipment weight and the total billing weight which confused us mightily until we read the helpful info link.
On the upside UPS are usually easy to deal with; arranging collection is straightforward and they will collect around our way up until 1900 which could suit some sellers.
Also the labels are all made available to print and we assume the tracking data is then automatically populated in your FBA shipment transaction but since we did not complete the process we might be wrong.
It looks like if you have an decent courier contract and insurance then UPS may not be the way to go but it is still worth checking out just in case.
You can still back out of the UPS option once you have the estimated price and revert to your courier before completing the FBA shipment information and status.
However if you don’t get contract rates form a courier and use the online brokers like interparcel and parcel2go for your shipments then the UPS option could be well worth exploring for the rates some people are getting (£4.25 per parcel inclusive) are under half what the brokers will charge you even without insurance.
There is some good but still sparse information on the Amazon seller forums which is also worth checking out.
The only thing that would currently make the UPS option more attractive to us would be if it became clear you gained a significant time advantage at the FBA inventory check-in process most especially at busy times in which case the UPS ‘premium’ could be a good investment.
Be interested to know what others have discovered about this new initiative.