BMVD Items and Shipping Templates

Shipping Templates are the new method provided by Amazon for setting shipping rates in Seller Central. The following applies to sellers of merchant fulfilled BMVD (Books, Music, CDs, Videos and DVDs) items. This only applies to merchant fulfilled items and does not impact FBA inventory.

Note: US sellers are able to set their shipping costs for BMVD items now. UK sellers will be able to do it on August 1st.

While it may seem that there are a lot of changes happening (both at Amazon and on AMan), once you get familiar with shipping templates on Seller Central, this will actually become quite simple.

For BMVD sellers this is a big change. The temptation may be to think in terms of "How much should I charge for shipping this item, how do I set this rate and how do I set the shipping options". However, what needs to be done is to first create some shipping templates with different shipping options like Expedited, International etc.  (and possibly with different shipping rates - but see below). Then the way to think is "What shipping template should I assign to this item".

Other pages related to this topic (also accessible via our Support page):

Changes to AMan to support Shipping Templates with BMVD items:

  1. AMan Repricing
    AMan has always repriced based on the total price of the competition (i.e. price + shipping). Since the shipping was the same for all sellers, that was not necessarily obvious for BMVD items. After the Amazon changes on March 1st for US and August 1st for UK BMVD sellers, this will be noticeable as AMan will reprice based on price + shipping even if the competition do not retain the Amazon shipping rates or charge zero for shipping. Therefore there is nothing to change in repricing.
  2. Setting of Shipping Options when listing new inventory
    Once you have migrated to using shipping templates on Amazon, you no longer specify the shipping options (Expedited, International etc.) in AMan when listing inventory. Instead, you specify a shipping template which has the shipping options that you offer to buyers purchasing that SKU. The List an Item screen has been changed to reflect this. Additionally the Add New Inventory Wizard has been changed to accept ShipTemplate rather than individual fields to specify each shipping option.
    A shipping template is required when listing through AMan. To change the default shipping template used when using List on Amazon, please see the instructions in  Shipping Templates Details on how to set the List an Item defaults.
    Note: The shipping template created for each BMVD category will only contain the shipping options that you have set as your defaults in Seller Central. Therefore it is VERY important that you review the shipping templates to make sure they have the shipping options (Expedited etc.) that you wish to offer and only the shipping options you wish to offer.
  3. Changing Shipping Options for existing inventory.
    Once you are using shipping templates, if you wish to change the shipping options offered on SKUs, you will need to change the options offered in the shipping template assigned to those SKUs. This must be done through Seller Central (Settings->Shipping Settings) and not through AMan.
  4. Shipping Rate assumed when first listing BMVD products.
    Since from March 1st US and August 1st UK, Amazon will allow sellers to set their own shipping rates for BMVD items, AMan can no longer assume that the previously dictated by Amazon shipping rates are being used. Instead AMan allows you to configure these values for each category in BMVD. This configuration is available at Configure->MWS and Pricing Settings->Default Shipping Costs. Initially these values are set at the rates previously dictated by Amazon. If you change the shipping rates for your BMVD products, you will need to reconfigure these values. If you have variable shipping rates configured (e.g. you charge by weight) then we would recommend you set these values to zero.

    These values are only used when first listing new BMVD inventory. Once you reprice with AMan, the actual shipping rate you are charging customers will be obtained from Amazon and used from then onwards. Setting these values does NOT alter what your shipping rates are - this is determined by (and only by) the Shipping Template assigned to an item.

    Note: If these values are higher than what you are actually charging customers, AMan will price the item too low when first listing. Therefore it is safer  to set these to zero if you are unsure or use variable values. While it may initially overprice the items, the next pricing session will adjust based on the actual shipping rates. It is safer to overcharge when first listing and adjust downwards to the correct value rather than undercharging initially and selling your item at too low a price.

  5. Conversion to Shipping Templates.
    When you first convert to using shipping templates, we would strongly recommend that you initially not change your shipping rates until you get familiar with shipping templates on Amazon and in AMan.
    If, later on, you decide to change your shipping rates (e.g. offer free economy), then please make sure that you change the AMan Default Shipping Costs as per (3) above.

Note about changing Standard Shipping Rates:

From March 1st, 2017 US and August 1st, 2017 UK sellers will be able to set their shipping rates for BMVD products. Also, Amazon will be charging fees based on the total price (price + shipping) charged to the customer. Therefore (for instance) raising the shipping rate and lowering the price (which is what AMan will do if you change the shipping rate since it always prices against the total price of the competition and factors in your shipping rate) will not result in any change of the net amount you will receive from Amazon.

An Example:  Your competition is selling an item for $10 + $1 shipping giving a total of $11 to the buyer. Assuming that you have AMan configured to price $0.01 below the lowest.

If you retain the standard Amazon shipping rate of $3.99, AMan will price you at $7.00 + $3.99 (a total of $10.99). Amazon will take its fees from the total price of $10.99 and give you the rest.
If you change your shipping setting to charge $0.01 shipping. AMan will price the item at $10.98 + $0.01 shipping giving the same total. And Amazon gets the same cut from the same $10.99 giving you the same net.

Some reasons we see to change shipping rates are:

  • To have variable shipping rates depending on weight.
  • To offer "free shipping" for purely psychological reasons (because buyers tend to gravitate to free shipping).
  • Since the MinPrice in AMan only affects the 'price' part of the total price, raising the shipping rate without changing the MinPrice, effectively changes the minimum total price you will sell the item for.

In these cases AMan will still adjust your price based on your shipping rate. Therefore, unless you have a specific reason for changing your shipping rates, we recommend that you leave them as is.

However, since Amazon will be taking more in fees, you should review your current minimum prices and determine if you need to raise them to compensate for the fee increases.

Note: The above discussion and examples only refer to Standard shipping rates. We would recommend that you review Expedited and International shipping rates and possibly change the amount charged and/or the method used to calculate (per item vs. weight) to account for your business costs.

If you do change your shipping rates, then you also need to configure the Default Shipping Costs in AMan. We recommend the following (based only on your Standard shipping rates):

  • If set to zero or Free Economy is being offered, set the values to zero.
  • If charging per order plus per pound, then set the values to the per order  rate.
  • If charging per order plus per item, set the values to the sum of the order rate and the item rate.
  • If using banded shipping rates, use the shipping rate for the lowest band.
  • If in doubt, set the values to zero - It is better to have too low a value here and cause AMan to charge slightly more when first listing (which will get adjusted based on the actual shipping rate when repriced) rather than undercharge when first listing and lose money!