About Amazon FBA Shipments
For every LTL and FTL shipment sent to Amazon, there are certain requirements that shippers and carriers are responsible to complete.
*These requirements apply to both individual boxes, and boxes loaded on pallets for truck transport.
An Amazon FBA warehouse frequently refused floor loaded containers for one of Freight Right’s clients. The reason for refusal that FBA gave was that the contents are “unsafe to unload.” Freight Right’s Import team contacted the Relay Operations Center (ROC), as well as the FBA facility manager and was able to find out that there were 3 underlying issues with the way the factory in China was loading the containers.
1. To optimize the space in the container, the factory was loading some of the boxes upright, others sideways, and topping them off with another layer of boxes loaded flat. As a result FBA forklift operators were unable to use clamps to unload the boxes.
2. Generally, Amazon would use manual labor to remove the top layer of boxes, leaving the ones facing in the same direction which would be clampable. Unfortunately, at 80-90lbs per box, the goods were too heavy for one person to unload (Amazon and OSHA regulations limit the weight per box to 50 lbs for manual labor).
3. The fact that the boxes were stacked too high in the container made it unsafe for two people to hand-carry the boxes, which made the problem even worse.
The factory, like most logistics operators, was optimizing the space in the container achieving an impressive 90%+ container utilization (See image below). Unfortunately, the results of this seemingly well-intentioned planning resulted in the extra expenses of unloading the refused containers, palletizing, and re-delivering them with two trucks. This was costing the client thousands of dollars for each container.
After the fact-finding calls, Freight Right’s team got to work on some solutions for the customer. We came up with three custom solutions and calculated the landed cost per unit to make it easy for the customer to make a decision.
Keep the containers loaded at 90% utilization but deliver it to one of Freight Right’s warehouses where the boxes would be transloaded, palletized, and delivered to Amazon with larger trucks. This would allow Amazon to unload using regular forklifts and avoid refusals. The container would fit 402 units with a landed cost per unit of $19.46.
Load the container with boxes standing up vertically. In this case, 247 cartons would fit in a 1 x 40-foot container. The boxes would be clampable with virtually no chance of refusal. There would not be any additional charges to transload the container but given the lower count the cost per unit would be $20.47.
Load the container with boxes standing up horizontally, which would allow for three rows of boxes. The factory could fit 312 units in each container. The height of the top row would be over shoulder height but since the boxes would be clampable, the chances of refusal would be minimal. The landed cost per unit would be $16.20.
A Long Term Outcome
Option #1 was instantly eliminated, as it was obviously the least cost-effective route. The client was able to compare options #2 and #3, and ultimately decided to go with option #3. This choice entailed a moderate risk of being refused, but had the lowest cost per unit. The factory was given instructions on how to load the container, according to the plan prepared by Freight Right’s team. The method was tested on the following few containers and no refusals were recorded. Later, this option was chosen as the permanent solution for said client.
Should Amazon restrictions change, the client still has option #2 to fall back on, with only a slight increase in cost per unit.