In mid-August 2017, Amazon emailed sellers regarding account changes for default Transit Times and Handling Days.
These changes affected non-Prime, seller-fulfilled listings (MFN/FBM sellers) in different ways depending on sellers’ past performance and Amazon shipping settings.
According to Amazon, the default shipping and handling times changes are aimed at helping the best sellers win the Buy Box more often.
The rationale is that buyers are more likely to order an item that has a faster shipping time. Many are even willing to pay a premium to get a product in-hand in less time.
It’s just one more way that Jeff Bezos and company are trying to raise the level of customer experience for Amazon shoppers.
But how does it affect you and the way you do business on the world’s largest online marketplace?
It all depends on whether you use MFN or FBA and how fast you fulfill orders.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about Amazon’s changes to default shipping settings.
Amazon default transit time changes for MFN sellers
Amazon explains that the change in default Transit Times for MFN sellers has to do with helping the best sellers win the Buy Box more often.
Because shoppers tend to prefer purchasing items they’ll receive quickly, transit time/shipping time plays a major role in the Amazon Buy Box algorithm. As a result, Amazon redesigned the range options for some of their default transit times.
See the first part of the email Amazon sent to sellers below:
Important changes coming to your shipping settings
To help you increase sales and win the Buy Box more often, we are launching new capabilities to help you set faster delivery times for your non-Prime seller fulfilled products. Customers are more likely to purchase products that have a faster estimated delivery time at checkout. Products with a faster delivery date promise are more likely to win the Buy Box.
As a reminder, delivery times are composed of handling time (the time you have to handover packages to the carrier) and transit times (the shipping speed you select). This email focuses on important changes to the Transit Time (shipping speed) for your products.
New default transit times for US sellers: Starting September 19, Amazon will automatically update Standard Shipping transit times for all existing shipping templates according to the transit times specified in the table below. If your existing transit time settings are faster, there will be no changes made to your account.
Why the change? We have looked closely at all shipping services used by sellers. We found that the transit times that were previously used did not reflect the actual time taken by carriers to deliver shipments. We are now updating defaults to reflect actual transit times. With this change, you will not be required to change any of the shipping services you currently use. You will notice on the website that buyers will see a more accurate and faster delivery time; and one that closely matches your actual performance.We will send you separate updates on how to improve your handling times. For a refresher on how delivery times are estimated and modified for seller fulfilled products, please click here [must be logged into Seller Central].
Amazon Seller Services
Amazon answers questions about the default Transit Time changes
At the end of the email below the “Amazon Seller Services” signature, Amazon tackled common questions about the changes to default Transit Times. See below:
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I see and modify my current transit times?
2. Can I continue to use Media Mail for items that qualify?
Yes, you can continue using Media Mail as a qualified ship method to ship Media products. The transit time for products shipped via Media Mail to the Lower 48 states should be set to 4-8 business days.
3. Are other sellers receiving this change?
Yes, all sellers shipping from the US and listing their products on Amazon.com are subject to these changes.
4. Does transit time include weekends?
No. Similar to handling time, transit time is set in business days and excludes weekends. For example, an order you receive on Thursday with a 1 day handling time and 5 day transit time is expected to ship on Friday and arrive the following Friday.
5. I use shipping solutions that might take longer than the times listed above. What should I do?
You have the option of increasing your transit time to the Lower 48 to a maximum of 4-8 days for such items.
*Note that FBA sellers need not worry about these changes since Amazon handle their order fulfillment and guarantees Prime 2-Day Shipping.
Amazon changes default handling time for MFN sellers
Aside from change to default Transit Times, Amazon also announced changes to default Handling Times.
Below is part one of the email that one of Appeagle’s in-house sellers received regarding the change in default Handling Times:
Important changes coming to your shipping settings
To help you increase sales and win the Buy Box more often, we are launching new capabilities to help you set faster delivery times for your non-Prime seller fulfilled products. Customers are more likely to purchase products that have a faster estimated delivery time at checkout. Products with a faster delivery date promise are also more likely to win the Buy Box.
As a reminder, delivery times are composed of handling time (the time you have to handover packages to the carrier) and transit times (the shipping speed for your order). This email focuses on important changes to the Handling Time for your products.
1. Starting September 20th, the new default handling time for you will be 1 day: Our data shows that you are already shipping within a one day handling time. Sellers with your level of performance have frequently requested that we accurately reflect, and give credit for, the high level of service. We have taken your feedback and with this change, we will start letting Customers know this by way of better delivery promises on the website.
Practically, this means that all new and existing products without a handling time set by you will be defaulted to 1 day. Since you are already shipping within one day, this should not require changes to your systems or operations.
2. Starting today, you can set your handling time to be 1 day: In addition to the change above, you can start setting a one day handling time for your products. If you so choose, you will also need to ship within one business day. Previously, we added an additional one day buffer. This will no longer exist.
What the default handling time change means for Amazon MFN sellers
Because Handling Time plays a key role in Amazon’s Buy Box algorithm, this default setting change created a new top tier of 1 day for Handling Time compared to the previous level of 0-2 days.
Instead of breaking up Handling Time options into ranges, the new settings are for specific amounts of days, i.e. 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, etc.
See the chart below, along with the conclusion to the email about the default Handling Time change:
How do I change Handling Time? You can change the handling time for your products via Seller Central’s Inventory page (one product at a time) or the Inventory Excel file uploads (for bulk SKU updates). Click here to learn more [must be logged into Seller Central to view link].We will send you separate updates on how to improve your transit times. For a refresher on how delivery times are estimated and set for seller fulfilled products, please click here [must be logged into Seller Central to view link].
Amazon Seller Services
For MFN sellers who can swing a 1 day Handling Time on a consistent basis, this is a positive change that means you’ll get extra “points” towards winning the Buy Box.
In fact, our in-house seller reported an increase of approximately 35% in Buy Box wins since this change went into effect. (That’s why it’s vital to be able to control who you compete against on price based on your competitors’ Handling Time.)
On the other hand, if you’re more of a “sometimes-1-day, sometimes-2-days” kind of seller when it comes to Handling Time, you may not be as pleased when you set your new default handling time to 2 days and find you’re winning the Buy Box less as a result.
Amazon answers questions about the default Handling Time changes
Just like in the email about default Transit Time changes, common questions were addressed regarding the changes to default Handling Time below Amazon Seller Services’ signature:
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How is handling time for my existing products changing?
Previously, the minimum handling time for all products was 2 days. Now, if you set (or have already set) a 1 day handling time for any item, orders for these products will have an expected ship date of 1 business day after the order date.
Beginning September 20th, if you previously left the handling time field blank, those products will default to a 1 day handling time. Any products where you entered 2 or more days will continue to have the handling time you manually set.
2. What happens to new products I start selling?
New products added to Amazon after will automatically have a 1 day handling time unless you enter a value of 2 or more.
3. Does handling time apply to weekends? Do I have to ship orders on Saturdays and Sundays?
No. Handling Time is in business days which excludes weekends. For example, an order you receive on Friday with a 1 day handling time is expected to ship on Monday.
4. What can I do if I don’t want to ship in 1 business day?
No problem, you can always set your own handling time for your products. Click hereto learn how. [must be logged in to Seller Central]
5. How else can I improve my handling time?
Review all products that have a handling time of more than 2 days and consider reducing this to as fast as 1 day. We have seen that many sellers ship products much faster than the stated handling time. So, despite having the capability, many sellers miss out on more sales. Lowering handling time to 1 day can help grow sales for those products.
6. Anything else I should keep in mind while changing my handling times?
Amazon requires that you keep your Late Shipment Rate (LSR) under 4%. To avoid impacting your Late Ship Metric, please monitor your operations and settings to help maintain your good delivery performance rating.
7. Are other Sellers being defaulted to 1 day handling time?
All sellers will be allowed to set 1 day handling time themselves, but only select sellers who already ship most items in 1 day are being defaulted to 1 day handling time.
*Note that not all sellers will be defaulted to 1 day handling time.
The reason our in-house seller was defaulted to the new top tier for Handling Time is because of his past performance of maintaining Amazon’s previous best default Handling Time.
Sellers with a Handling Time history that is less than 1-2 days will be defaulted to a new Handling Time that reflects their past performance.
Want to take advantage of having faster transit and handling times than your competitors?
Appeagle can help.
Our repricer lets you choose who you compete against on price based on both Shipping/Transit Time and Handling Time, as well as many other seller metrics.
That means you can exclude competitors with inferior Transit and Handling Times from who you reprice against so you only reprice against your toughest competition.
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