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Starting July 1, Amazon is cutting some of its shipping fees for third-party merchants. That will likely mean free and faster shipping on a much larger selection from these smaller sellers.
Sellers will now be able to ship three flat 1-ounce packages for $1.61, which is 67% less than what they're paying now. Eligible items include makeup, cell phone accessories, and anything that is small, flat, and can fit in large envelopes. Anything measuring thicker than half an inch could incur higher fees.
Amazon launched a version of this discounted shipping program, called Amazon Small and Light, last year. It's meant to encourage the sale of popular small items from small merchants. Items from third-party merchants, and those not fulfilled by Amazon, are often not eligible for free 2-day shipping via Prime. However, Small and Light items are shipped free for customers (the merchants pay a small shipping fee), and this change hopefully means more merchants will participate, making more items available.
Amazon is hoping the new rates for the Small and Light program will be tempting to merchants in China, which could mean faster and cheaper delivery for American customers. The program boasts faster delivery times to US shoppers, supposedly taking around four to eight days, instead of weeks. By comparison, deliveries through ePacket (an agreement between the US Postal Service and China Post) typically take closer to two weeks. And if ePacket isn't used, it could be as much as eight weeks.
What's good news for US customers is good news for Amazon, too. The megaretailer would prefer Chinese merchants use Amazon warehouses and Amazon shipping — and pay for it.
Sellers who want to switch to Amazon's Small and Light program will still have to ship their inventory to an Amazon warehouse. But with costs reported to be comparable to ePacket, and the potential for more sales because of a shorter shipping time, it's easy to understand why it could be a big draw for foreign sellers.
Readers, have you ever not bought from a third-party merchant because the shipping was too expensive? Have you not bought from a Chinese company because shipping was too slow? Sound off in the comments below!