Once you’ve completed sourcing your goods and are done with the supplier process steps, here’s how to move forward on the international freight front (refer following chapters for expansion to abbreviations).
Before you select what product you are importing, check out potential customs or carrier restrictions on your product.
Conform to Amazon’s palletizing and labeling requirements.
When negotiating with your supplier, define your incoterm (freight term that drives accountability during the shipment). Then negotiate your buy price based on landed cost.
Get copies of the documents you’ll need for the shipment from your supplier, that is the CI, packing list, and, in some cases, also the COO, MSDS, and fumigation certificate.
Check out the RFQ prep list. Consider whether you require the forwarder to cover customs broking and cargo insurance.
Decide between shipping by air or ocean. Air is quicker and ocean is cheaper (except for small shipments). Ocean freight splits to full container load and less than a container load.
Price vs Time
Assess the price point that you would swap to a different mode to get your goods in quicker. This is especially relevant if you are not near a major port, or are East Coast importing from China.
From the responses, decipher the surcharges and fees (like fuel, canal surcharges, piracy charges), ensure it’s all correct, and choose the right quote.
Complete required forms, like T&Cs and POA. Then complete the Shipper’s Letter Of Instruction and provide other documents so that your forwarder can confirm the plane or ship’s booking.
Choose between a continuous bond and a single entry bond. For single entry bonds, you’ll also need an ISF bond with ocean freight.
What method will you use to pay the order? Also, if you’re importing regularly, it’s cheaper to set up ACH payment with Customs.
Carefully check all documents that are to be lodged with Customs, because even a tiny mistake might become costly for you.
Make sure your forwarder is keeping you up to date with shipment tracking and early notification of issues. Coordinate drop-off, and make sure you are resourced for unloading.
Ensure that your forwarder follows Amazon’s requirements for inventory arriving from overseas, and receiving requirements (booking and delivery).