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Amazon FBA Split Shipments: 5 Ways to Save on Inbound Shipping Costs

Split shipments have always been frustrating for new sellers. Amazon does this for a variety of reasons, but mainly to distribute products across their fulfillment centers better. In this article, I discuss ways you can mitigate split shipments without violating Amazon’s Terms of Service.

1. Use the same labeling type

When adding new SKUs to Seller Central you can sometimes select the “Use Manufacturer Barcode” which allows you to use the ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) or ASIN-Linked Product Identifier (Often a UPC, but not always). Using this type of barcode is considered “Comingled Shipping” which means that it will mix with other comingled sellers’ inventory if any exist. This is because the barcode is tied to an ASIN that won’t be changed across skus or sellers.

The other type of barcode is “Seller Label”, which utilizes a custom FNSKU (Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit) 

If you have 100 skus total and 50 are comingled, you are very likely going to see the comingled skus get split into different shipments, despite likely going to the same fulfillment centers.

2. Case Packing vs Individual Units

Case Packing your shipment will cause your inventory to split different ways than using “Individual” units. When you ship items to Amazon via case pack, Amazon will not split up the case pack quantities, but they may send full cases to different destinations. Case packed shipments also do not typically get combined with Individual Unit shipments. 

You can use Case Packed shipments to sometimes send lower quantities of items in smaller cases to mitigate splits. This tip is one you simply need to experiment with because each business will find different use-case scenarios on when to use “Case Packed” vs “Individual Units”.

3. Specialty Categories

One of the more well-known reasons items will split shipments is based on the product type. Amazon has different warehouses for different purposes. For example, Oversize warehouses have equipment and larger machines that can handle the larger items that they process. Hazmat warehouses have the proper safety and labeling requirements for hazmat items. Some of the categories Amazon splits into different warehouses are:

  • Oversize
  • Specialty Oversize (Unusually large or heavy)
  • Hazmat
  • Apparel and Shoes
  • Automotive
  • A few other categories and items fall under this section as well.
Stocking in these categories simply means it will be harder to build up larger shipments as the items in them will typically be split between 3 destinations

4. Shipment Upload Type

How you build your shipments is critical to know how your inventory will split. Adding items one-by-one vs in one batch/file can greatly dictate how, where, and what items go to various destinations. Using software to do this can greatly improve your efficiency of prep, but it can be technically done via Seller Central as well.

5. Quantity

Lastly, except in specialty categories, most items will follow the “18” unit rule. The “18 unit rule” is the threshold Amazon determines it is more effective for them to distribute your inventory from a “distribution/cross-dock” facility than sending that inventory direction to a final destination “Fulfillment center”. 

Typically you will see shipments split with 17 or less units, but Amazon’s Terms of Services allows for a 6-unit adjustment. So in most scenarios, we are able to get 12 units or more (Add 18, adjust down 6) to go to our nearest distribution center. 

6. Book Non-Partnered Carrier Freight

Now this one will not be applicable to everyone. However, it not only can lead to faster check-in times but sometimes can even be cheaper than Partnered Carrier Freight. Consider booking your own freight with local, domestic, and international carriers that understand Carrier Central. Carrier Central is the appointment scheduler and is one of the ways carriers can get appointments at Amazon. This can speed up times from your warehouse to getting checked in at Amazon along with, depending on the carrier and distance, reduced shipping costs.

An additional hidden cost of Partnered Carrier shipping is the longer transit times may lead to longer holding of inventory and higher capital costs to maintain larger inventory levels across your supply chain.

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