In April 2017, Amazon’s founder & CEO Jeff Bezos declared his plans to continue investing in technology and infrastructure through its India ecommerce business. Just days after this announcement we were greeted with the news of the online giant doubling its warehouse capacity. In 2017, Amazon is going to build 14 new fulfilment centres (FC) across India. The purpose of these warehouses would be to assist sellers in order fulfilment and store their inventory.
But sellers inform Indian Online Seller (IOS) that Amazon first need to check miscreant activities at their existing warehouses. Several FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) vendors reached out to IOS and shared incidents about missing/stolen/damaged inventory.
Amazon’s FCs in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad were few that featured in the list of missing inventory complaints.
Seller 1 – Constant theft/missing units every time my goods reach Amazon warehouse
Seller Ashjad Aziz started selling on Amazon in September 2015. He signed up for the FBA service in December 2015. Looking at the good response, Aziz increased his stock size from 100 per month to 500-600 per month.
“Every shipment sent there had a unit or 2 missing always. Most of the time I used to file a claim and used to get a partial refund after waiting for 1-2 months. Initially I used to send my shipment through an Amazon approved 3P carrier called AMPM. Later when Amazon started their own shipping, I sent through them for triple the price just so that my goods reach there safely. Still the missing of goods was common. And the money reimbursed by them is peanuts compared to the goods value,” says Aziz while speaking to IOS.
“My last shipment sent on last week of March had a small carton full of T-shirts (around 12 units). Out of that 6 showed missing when the re-con report came in. I applied for a claim and after a month 4 T-shirts showed up miraculously. The remaining 2 units are still in the process for claim. It’s been 1.5 months now and the only response I get is ‘we are looking into the issue’.”
Seller 2 – Amazon warehouse in Ahmedabad is in a complete mess
Sanket Vaghani who runs Bollywood Designer is thinking about quitting FBA if his goods continue to disappear and appear suddenly. Vaghani started selling on Amazon in March 2016 and signed up for FBA in August 2016, only to discontinue it after a month. In March 2017, he signed up again and has sent around 1000 units.
The first 3-4 dispatches went out smoothly. But the last batch of shipments (starting from April) have been filled with issues such as units missing, miscalculation of ASIN by Amazon, and inconsistent stock report. IOS has reviewed the proofs shared by the seller to back his claim.
“For missing 2 units case, Amazon said you have sent 2 units less. But we crosscheck each and every unit and quantity before dispatch. In another instance, they calculated 71 units out of 78. Then we raised claim for missing 7 units. Now since yesterday suddenly units are showing 80 as total received which is incorrect. How it is 80 when we sent 78? This is truly unbelievable.”
Seller 3 – With turnover of more than Rs. 50 lakhs/month, why would I send less inventory than promised?
A seller AG (name withheld on request) is baffled by Amazon’s response to his complaints about missing units from their Ahmedabad FC. The marketplace says that the seller dispatched less units but AG wonders why he would do that.
“We are facing this problem. Stock goes missing from FC SAMB/AMD1 and Amazon just orders that you have sent short. We have turnover of more than 50 lakhs a month. Why would we send short and ask for refunds of 2-3 thousand?” AG asks.
“I am 100% sure these stocks are either robbed by the people working at FC or the higher authorities are playing games. A few months back, I got a reference that ‘Amazon Aslali has stocks of 25 lakhs to be sold, if you are interested you can get a good deal.’ I wonder if these are all those lost products of poor sellers.”
The list is huge
During our research we came across at least 3 dozen more cases (just top results of a quick search on the Internet; there can be more) that talked about missing inventory from Amazon FCs. And it is not restricted to Amazon India; vendors from the US marketplace too have the same complaint.
Amazon assures that missing inventory matter is thoroughly investigated
Like always, IOS got in touch with Amazon and laid out the accusations made by sellers. Below is what they have to say regarding the missing/stolen inventory issue.
“We have an elaborate inventory control program at our fulfilment centers to monitor any missing inventory from its exact location. This weekly audited program measures the inventory accuracy through daily deep dive of top missing and found items, training of associates on process, putting in checks to identify possible misplacement of inventory and correcting the defect through multiple count strategies. In case of any missing inventory in the count, the matter is escalated for further investigation. Additionally, all claims for warehouse loss are researched by the internal teams and all actual losses are paid out as seller reimbursements,” asserts Amazon India Spokesperson.
What can sellers do?
The most straightforward and obvious solution to this problem is to opt for self-fulfilment rather than FBA. Seasoned sellers who handle their own deliveries believe that it is always better to have complete fulfilment control compared to relying entirely on marketplaces.
“Our FBA sales are less than 10% of our total sales on Amazon, so not much of my stock is in FBA, thus reconciliation is easy for me as of now, and till now I have not been a victim of theft from FBA. We are not focusing much on FBA, as it is not actually solving our problems. In fact reconciliation and maintaining stocks separately for FBA is creating issues for us,” shares seller Mit Kotak, who owns Daily Shoppers retailing business.
If closing FBA is not a feasible solution for you then keep an eye on FBA shipments regularly. Filter your list of shipments and segregate the inventory in ‘receiving’, ‘delivered’ and ‘checked-in’ categories. Investigate or contact Amazon asking about the shipments queued in the ‘receiving’ category for long.
Please keep in mind that the claim window period as per FBA Lost and Damaged Inventory Reimbursement Policy is 60 days. Amazon doesn’t entertain reimbursement requests after the claim window so please keep track of your stock.
Is your inventory too disappearing from Amazon’s FCs? Do you think your stock is not safe at the marketplace’s warehouses? Is there an alternate way to safeguard it? Let us know your views through comments.