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US Amazon sellers required to provide 95% tracking from Feb ’16

By Dan Wilson November 15, 2015 - 11:48 pm

We received an email from a UK based Amazon seller who also sells on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca over the weekend. The seller received news from Amazon that come February 2016, non-FBA sellers will be required to ensure 95% of their shipments are tracked.

Amazon suggests that this isn’t necessarily going to be a major headache: “Now that all major carriers, including USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL, offer free tracking, we require that you provide tracking information for your shipments.”

As they further note in their email: “While we believe tracking will provide benefits for customers and sellers during the holiday period, we realize you may need to make changes in your existing shipping processes to meet the new requirement. Therefore, you’ll have until February 2016 to meet the 95% tracked shipment target rate. Packages without tracking that are shipped before or during this grace period won’t impact your ability to sell on Amazon. After the grace period passes, if you don’t meet the 95% target in a given category, you will risk losing your ability to sell non-FBA items within that category.”

If you’re an Amazon stateside seller this link will tell you more: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/201817070. There are others in the email.

As it stands at the moment there is no word that this will each UK shores any time soon, it’s worth considering that often what starts out in the US does come to the UK when it comes to Amazon. Indeed, with Royal Mail tracking on basic shipments as it is, that may be an obstacle.

Do you sell using Amazon.com? Will this be a problem for you to comply with?

And, for reference, here is the full text of the email that we’ve seen.

“Dear Seller,

Beginning February 2016, Amazon will require you to provide valid tracking numbers for at least 95% of your shipments. You will not need to provide tracking for freight shipments, or for items shipped in Standard Mail or First Class Mail envelopes (e.g. screen protectors, greeting cards).

Amazon provides tracking for orders because we find that this creates a better experience for customers. Customers don’t have to worry about the whereabouts of their order because they can check their shipment status at any time. Now that all major carriers, including USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL, offer free tracking, we require that you provide tracking information for your shipments.

In addition to an improved customer experience, providing valid tracking numbers for all of your shipments has several benefits:

1. Decreased order defects and better seller feedback ratings: Orders without tracking are, on average, 1.7 times more likely to also have a defect. Additionally, buyers tell us that receiving packages on time and being able to track them along the way are two of the most important reasons to leave positive feedback.

2. Fewer buyer messages: We’ve seen that an average of 40% of a seller’s contacts with buyers are about shipment status. The “Where’s My Stuff” contact rate is greater for untracked shipments than it is for shipments with valid tracking. Providing tracking numbers can help reduce the amount of time you spend answering shipping-related questions from buyers.

3. Reduced lost shipment costs: Tracking can significantly reduce the costs associated with a lost shipment. If a package is lost in transit, you can use tracking to find out where it was lost and determine responsibility.

4. Improved conversion: Tracking and delivering on time can help you become eligible for programs such as Premium Shipping options, which allows you to reduce your advertised handling and transit times.

While we believe tracking will provide benefits for customers and sellers during the holiday period, we realize you may need to make changes in your existing shipping processes to meet the new requirement. Therefore, you’ll have until February 2016 to meet the 95% tracked shipment target rate. Packages without tracking that are shipped before or during this grace period won’t impact your ability to sell on Amazon. After the grace period passes, if you don’t meet the 95% target in a given category, you will risk losing your ability to sell non-FBA items within that category.

You can view your current Valid Tracking Rate by category by going to Seller Central: Performance: Customer Satisfaction: Account Health. Tracked packages will count toward your Valid Tracking Rate when there is at least one carrier scan recorded. If you purchase postage through Amazon’s Buy Shipping service, tracking will be automatically applied to the shipment at the time of purchase.

To learn more about the new Valid Tracking Rate Policy or to contact us with any questions you may have about the policy, please go to https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/201817070. To learn more about Premium Shipping options, please go to https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/201503640. To learn more about Amazon’s Buy Shipping services, please go to https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/200472530.

Sincerely,
Amazon Seller Performance Team”

  • Bryn
    1 year ago

    Selling low ticket items this is going to make it uneconomical to continue selling on Amazon.com.

    FBA there is too much admin due to the sales tax scenario

  • Simon E
    1 year ago

    We don’t sell on Amazon.com but I wonder if it comes to the UK whether they consider RM signed for as tracked.
    It’s certainly NOT tracked but provides a proof of delivery.

    I could put all my prices up on Amazon to incorporate signed for but not special delivery. Then it would just drive more customers to other platforms.
    Amazon already take their greedy share of 25% on jewellery AND the postage where a customer selects expedited and of course there’s their minimum charge PER ITEM which works a treat for single findings.
    ( But that’s another bug bear )

  • 1 year ago

    We created our tracked parcel service to USA – etail-usa a couple of years ago specifically for tracked US at close to RM untracked rates to USA.

    It is a US domestic product/service based on UPS/USPS so fully accepted by Amazon.com

    Details here >> http://www.etail-usa.com

    Hope this helps.

    • Bryn
      1 year ago

      Thanks Peter that’s really useful. Wouldn’t be practical on all products but would work on some at the prices they have on their site

      There is an Amazon sellers meetup in London tomorrow all about setting up FBA in the states which is very good timing

  • Ross
    1 year ago

    It highlights how far behind Royal Mail is. USPS has had a barcoded, relatively inexpensive tracked service for a good few years now within the US. Royal Mail aren’t even close to having a similar service. So introducing it here would wipe out half the marketplace sellers.
    I totally agree about the admin for using FBA, for small sellers it doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

  • Andrew
    1 year ago

    I’m surprised they haven’t done this before. I’d like to put tracking on everything, but at the moment, using Royal Mail to ship my orders, I can only afford to put tracking on orders with more than one item. Single items just don’t have enough margin.
    My choices are to adjust my prices (and lose sales), stop selling altogether or find a cheaper carrier. There are more and more companies offering transatlantic shipping at competitive rates now than there were a year ago, so this may be a viable solution, but it will depend if my volume is high enough to get the right price.

  • Rachael
    1 year ago

    This will wipe out our USA Amazon listings – selling pyjamas at average $14 means they cannot go tracked – at present they do NOT accept Royal Mail ISF as tracking – this will error in the account and not

    These are the only ones they say they will accept.

    • UPS
    • UPSMI
    • USPS
    • DHL
    • DHL Global Mail
    • FedEx
    • FedEx Smartpost
    • OnTrac
    • Newgistics
    • Canada Post
    • Lasership
    • EMS
    • EUB

    So , it has to be courier according to Amazon, – Anyone selling in clothing and toys will fail and have their selling privileges removed from Feb.. which is crap really as we offer a good service with Destination Sort for the low value items.

    • Ross H
      1 year ago

      We use Royal Mail International Tracked & Signed service, and that seems to be acceptable at the moment for Amazon, our Valid tracking Rate shows as nearly 100%.

    • Jason
      1 year ago

      We are in a very similar position to Rachael with low priced items but we do get very good rates to the US using Royal Mail’s destination sort. We would need to find a low cost solution.
      Ross, the Royal Mail International Tracked & Signed service sounds like it works. What sort of prices are you paying though if you don’t mind me asking?

    • Ross H
      1 year ago

      Something like £9 from memory for about 200g parcel

    • Jason
      1 year ago

      Thanks Ross. Just checked and that is the one we already use. Not great with an average order value of <£20. We only use it for larger value orders.
      I'll pester Royal Mail and see if there is a cheaper option :-(

  • James
    1 year ago

    We use Destination Sort selling small price items to the USA. This decision is very worrying for me and my 5 staff. We will have to change the whole direction of the business.

    • Jason
      1 year ago

      That’s where we are James, and no doubt very many others.
      Hopefully this is where a forum like this could come into its own and sellers may be able to help one another out.
      At least we have until after Christmas to work it out.

    • 1 year ago

      Hi, Please feel free to email me if interested on clara.philpin@asendia.com Asendia UK can supply tracked delivery into US/Canada at very low cost. Asendia are formed of La Poste and Swiss Post and focus on e-commerce cross border solutions. Regards, Clara

  • SAM
    1 year ago

    I already sell via FBA, but it does cost and will sell the same item on eBay at a lot less on standard post. think they are trying to force tracking onto everything also there,with these new on time defects.
    It is not cost effective for a lot of items, and just push’s cost and prices up. if I am buying high value items like phones you expect tracking but on some low value items it is just not worth it. I sell all around the globe with standard airmail and very rarely have issues.
    This is also a WAY Amazon are using to force sellers to use their FBA services.

  • 1 year ago

    Since I posted my comment here earlier today we have been inundated with enquiries about our etail-usa tracked service.

    I just wanted to thank everyone who has contacted us.

    Somebody mentioned that I did not mention our rates so just to clarify – our fully Amazon compliant tracked rates via UPS/USPS are £2.99 for up to 200g from UK to the US end customer with no surcharges such as fuel or customs fees.

    All other details are at our website so I will not post further comments here.

    • 1 year ago

      Interesting service – we’re constantly looking for something like this so will be in touch.

      Do you guys provide something similar for returns coming back the way? Amazon states that sellers must provide a US return address so receiving those and forwarding them onto addresses in the UK could be a very useful service.

      PS do you integrate with Linnworks?

    • 1 year ago

      Hi Fergus,

      The answer is yes and yes but could I ask that any enquiries about our US tracked service be made via our website as I am not sure Chris and Dan would like Tamebay to be used for this.

      Obviously we have been very busy since the Amazon.com new policy annoucement but all enquiries will receive a response within 24hrs or sooner.

      Thanks…
      Peter

    • 1 year ago

      Hey Peter, we have no problem with you answering reader questions on here, I believe Dan has emailed you to ask for more info.

      What surprises me is that none of your competitors have posted ;-)

      (PS Get in touch to be included in the Tamebay Guide for 2016!!)

    • Simon M
      1 year ago

      My Mother often says, “If something seems too good to be true, it usually is” – and frankly, she’s right.

      So – what’s the catch? Because these rates are fantastic, and I’ll be biting your hand off very soon!

      (by the way, there’s an image on your homepage that seems to contradict your rate table; it says “UK to USA £2.99
      Small Parcels 0-250g”)

      S.

    • Simon E
      1 year ago

      I know what you mean Simon M. B-)

      I have been sending questions to their team and all seems VERY good.
      I am still waiting for the bombshell to shatter it all but so far looks great.

      I just wish I had discovered them earlier to give me more time to integrate my back end, especially at this time of year.

      They also told me about AfterShip who I had never heard of.
      Now I am looking at integrating that too.
      (Well the free version anyway)

  • 1 year ago

    I logged in to my account this morning and saw ‘fair’ for this performance metric. I immediately phoned my Amazon account manager for .com

    She stated that this is just a trial and it’s aimed at Chinese sellers. She said to ignore these metrics as Amazon somehow has sent this to all non-US sellers. She also said she would pass on my comments to management when having their next meeting.

  • 1 year ago

    Simon – There is no catch. Just under 2 years ago we created a specialist tracked service to USA for ecommerce only.

    Based on our Direct Injection model we found that we could offer rates as low < £3 for light/small parcels for UK online sellers retailing at US marketplaces such as Amazon.com meaning that merchants who had been sending untracked could consider tracked for the first time or merchants commited to tracked already could save a lot money versus Royal Mail tracked products or other courier services.

    We have been steadily growing the business based on only having online sellers as customers but we seem to have suddenly come to attention via here and other forums due to the Amazon policy change.

    We have existing customer references for you if you like but I definately think it best to contact us directly even though Chris has kindly allowed some dialogue here.

    Chris – thank you, I wantyed to be sure I was not "out of line".

    At £2.99 to USA with Royal Mail tracked at around £7 – £8 for the same size/weight parcel and Couriers much more we don't tend to have direct competitors!.

    • Simon M
      1 year ago

      Great, thanks for the reassurance Peter – I’ve sent my initial enquiry already!

      S.

    • Simon E
      1 year ago

      Well I just have to say thankyou.
      After 9 ish emails to you guys and girls over the past 2 days you have answered every one of my questions and supplied sample csv files and well… I am blown away.

      Why I have not discovered you before I do not know, but for a Pay as you go service with no subscription costs etc etc it seems fantastic and I have just submitted my details to sign up.

      It’s sadly refreshing to have questions answered in such a detailed and fast way.

      Once I am, hopefully approved, I shall start my own little integration process up my back end and hopefully start with you guys shortly.

      I can then bring my high prices of tracked Royal Mail shipping down and get more sales.

    • 1 year ago

      Hi Peter

      I can’t find any information about parcel dimensions on your site. Can we send postal tubes 65 x 4 x 4 cm ?

    • 1 year ago

      Hi Nick,

      Yes those dimensions are fine and you can certainly send tubes of that size through the eTail USA service.

      Regards,
      Peter

    • Nick
      1 year ago

      Thanks Peter. I wil contact via the website.

  • Rachael
    1 year ago

    I have received this reply from Amazon when chasing this…so possibly not compulsory for outside UK? – Dan / Chris, can you use your contacts to get this confirmed for us? as would hate to think we are sorted, and then get slapped in the face in Feb

    Thank you for contacting Amazon Seller Support.

    I understand that you would like to know more about how Valid Tracking Rate metric works for seller based outside of the US.

    I have contacted our concerned team regarding this query who informed me that sellers whose shipping address in the Seller Central is out of US and CN/HK are exempted from the Valid Tracking Rate Metric.

    I hope this information helps!

  • 1 year ago

    Montreal based Canadian e-commerce online sellers can use http://ecomexpress.ca to transport their orders to USPS and get cheap shipping rates with tracking #’s.

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