What are split shipments and why do they happen?
Split shipments are when Amazon takes your batch of products you have listed and “splits their destinations” up and sends some to one destination and others to another different destination.
If you’ve been selling on Amazon for any length of time you’ll know that split shipments have always been a problem and an annoyance to even the most savvy of sellers.
Why does Amazon split my shipments?
The short answer is that it reduces costs for Amazon and accelerates the delivery of the product to the customer.
No surprise there, right?
Amazon is relentlessly focused on the customer experience and also reducing costs for the business and splitting your shipments helps with that.
For example, if you are doing retail arbitrage with clothing and you have a bunch of snow boots to send in along with other clothing that is more summer like clothing, you can surely expect Amazon to send those boots to the North East or Midwest and send your summer clothes somewhere warmer.
Split shipments are a little more nuanced than that, but this is a very rudimentary example of why Amazon would split a shipment in this case.
Other examples of Amazon split shipments
Amazon will also split shipments based on the size and product type. If you are sending in a bunch of books and then sprinkle in a few hand tools or power saws then it is very likely that all your products won’t be going to the same warehouse.
I recently visited the San Bernardino Amazon Warehouse and was surprised to know that they have two locations (warehouses) right next to each other (ONT5, ONT2) that process to very different types of products.
Some warehouses service just very large items and others service products with hazmat warnings.
Another example is purely built on the data. Let’s use the book category for a quick example.
If you have a big shipment of books and inside that shipment there are 30 copies of a textbook that is very popular with staff from colleges in the Southeast region than those textbooks are probably going to end up there.
The textbook is in demand there by the students so it makes more sense for Amazon to force the seller to ship the books there as it will be less costly to fulfill that order.
Why do I get split shipments to the same warehouse within the same batch?
This often happens due to condition or labeling requirements. Amazon may want you to send the items to the same warehouse, but they want to process them separately within the warehouse and that means requiring the seller to process the products on different shipments.
If you have a few NEW condition items mixed in with a bunch of USED condition products then this may very well happen.
If you have opted to label all the products yourself but for whatever reason, Amazon wants to label those products…then they might be split on a separate shipment but be going to the same warehouse.
It’s all about efficiency and grouping for Amazon.
It’s a lot easier to process those shipments if they all match each other in characteristics such as labeling requirements or condition grade.
How can I avoid split shipments with Amazon?
However, there are some best practices for minimizing split shipments as much as possible.
- Send in as much product in one shipment as possible
- Keep condition types, like products and label preferences grouped together as much as humanly possible
- Think about seasonality and where your products might be selling more
- Sign up for Amazon’s Inventory Placement Program