From Alibaba to Amazon FBA: A Comprehensive Shipping Guide

From Alibaba to Amazon FBA: A Comprehensive Shipping Guide

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding the Key Players in the Shipping Process 2.1 The Supplier 2.2 The Buyer 2.3 The Carrier 2.4 The Freight Forwarder 2.5 The Customs Broker
  3. Choosing Between Air and Sea Shipping 3.1 Air Shipping 3.2 Sea Shipping
  4. Shipping Terms: EXW, FOB, DDP 4.1 EXW (Ex Works) 4.2 FOB (Free on Board) 4.3 DDP (Delivered Duty Paid)
  5. Creating a Shipping Plan on Amazon Seller Central 5.1 Setting up the Ship-from Address 5.2 Selecting Individual or Case Pack 5.3 Choosing the Freight Forwarder and Carrier 5.4 Packing and Shipping Details 5.5 Printing and Sending Shipping Labels
  6. Pro Tips for Managing Your Shipping Process

How to Buy Products on Alibaba and Sell Them on Amazon

In today's digital age, the possibilities for starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur are endless. One hugely popular business model that has gained immense popularity is buying products from Alibaba, the world's largest B2B online marketplace, and selling them on Amazon, the global e-commerce giant. In this article, we will guide you through the process of navigating Alibaba, understanding the intricacies of the shipping process, and creating a successful Amazon shipping plan.


The world of e-commerce presents a vast array of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. With millions of customers shopping online every day, platforms like Amazon have become an attractive marketplace for sellers around the world. However, sourcing products to sell on Amazon can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. That's where Alibaba comes in – the Chinese e-commerce platform that connects suppliers and manufacturers with buyers from all over the globe.

Before you embark on this exciting business venture, it's essential to understand the key players involved in the shipping process. By familiarizing yourself with these players, you can navigate the complexities of shipping with confidence.

Understanding the Key Players in the Shipping Process

  1. The Supplier: The supplier, also known as the exporter or the seller, is the entity responsible for creating and producing the products you intend to sell. They are the ones exporting the goods from their warehouse to you, the buyer.

  2. The Buyer: You, as the buyer or importer, play a crucial role in the shipping process. You are responsible for purchasing the goods from the supplier and arranging their transportation to the final destination, which is usually an Amazon warehouse.

  3. The Carrier: The carrier is the person or company that physically transports your goods from point A to point B. They can be a trucking company, a shipping line, or even a courier service like UPS or FedEx.

  4. The Freight Forwarder: Consider the freight forwarder as your best friend in the shipping process. They handle everything the carrier does and more. From picking up your product from the supplier's warehouse to navigating customs paperwork and arranging transportation, the freight forwarder takes care of it all.

  5. The Customs Broker: When shipping goods internationally, there are various customs fees, paperwork, and documents involved. Your customs broker ensures that all necessary documentation is correctly completed and handles any customs-related issues that may arise.

Choosing Between Air and Sea Shipping

When it comes to shipping your products from the supplier's warehouse to the Amazon warehouse, you have two primary options: air or sea shipping. Each method has its own advantages and considerations, depending on your specific needs and budget.

  1. Air Shipping: If you're placing your first order or dealing with a smaller quantity of products, it is advisable to opt for air shipping. Although it is more expensive than sea shipping, air transportation is significantly faster. It allows you to get your products into Amazon's inventory promptly, enabling you to test your product and start selling sooner.

  2. Sea Shipping: Sea shipping is a more affordable option, especially when ordering larger quantities of products. While it takes longer for your products to reach the Amazon warehouse (usually around 40 days), the cost savings can be significant for bulk orders. If you're not in a rush to get your products to market, sea shipping is an excellent choice for cost-saving and higher profit margins.

Shipping Terms: EXW, FOB, DDP

Before delving deeper into the shipping process, it's important to understand some common shipping terms you will come across when communicating with suppliers.

  1. EXW (Ex Works): This term means that the supplier finishes the products and leaves them at their warehouse. It is then your responsibility to arrange for a freight forwarder to pick up the products and handle the rest of the shipping process. With EXW, you assume more responsibility and potential risks.

  2. FOB (Free on Board): FOB indicates that the supplier is responsible for getting the products to the nearest port and covering the costs associated with that. Once the goods are on the boat, the responsibility shifts to you as the buyer. FOB is a more favorable option as it reduces your burden in the shipping process.

  3. DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): DDP is the most hands-off shipping term. It means that the supplier takes care of the entire shipping process, from manufacturing the products to delivering them to Amazon. This option provides convenience but comes at a higher cost.

Creating a Shipping Plan on Amazon Seller Central

Once you have selected the products you want to sell and have established a relationship with a supplier, it's time to create a shipping plan on Amazon Seller Central.

  1. Setting up the Ship-from Address: Enter the address of your supplier or the location from which the products will be shipped. This ensures a smooth transit from the supplier's warehouse to the Amazon warehouse.

  2. Selecting Individual or Case Pack: Choose the appropriate option based on whether you are shipping individual units or cases of products. For smaller quantities, individual packs are suitable, while case packs are used for bulk orders or bundled items.

  3. Choosing the Freight Forwarder and Carrier: Discuss the shipping options with your supplier and determine the most suitable freight forwarder and carrier for your shipment, whether it's by air, ocean, or ground transportation.

  4. Packing and Shipping Details: Provide accurate information about the number of units and cases, weights, dimensions, and packaging details. Double-check these details to ensure they match the actual shipment.

  5. Printing and Sending Shipping Labels: After confirming the shipment details, you can print the shipping labels provided by Amazon. Send these labels to your supplier, who will affix them to the packaging before shipping the products to Amazon's designated warehouse.

Pro Tips for Managing Your Shipping Process

  1. While waiting for your shipment, focus on optimizing your Amazon listing. Improve your product images, write compelling copy, and conduct thorough keyword research to enhance your product visibility and sales potential.

  2. If shipping still intimidates you, consider seeking assistance from a sourcing agent. Sourcing agents can guide you through the entire process, helping you find suitable products, negotiate with suppliers, and handle shipping logistics.

  3. When placing your first order, opt for faster shipping methods like air shipping. This allows you to test your product and gauge market demand sooner. As your business grows and you order larger quantities, switching to sea shipping can result in significant cost savings.

In conclusion, buying products from Alibaba and selling them on Amazon can be a lucrative business venture if done correctly. By understanding the key players in the shipping process, choosing the right shipping method, and creating a well-structured shipping plan, you can navigate the complexities of the supply chain with confidence. Remember, knowledge is power, so invest time in studying and refining your shipping strategies to ensure smooth and efficient operations for your Amazon business.