Have you ever stumbled upon an Amazon product page, only to see a message that it ‘usually ships in 1 to 2 months’?
This can be both confusing and alarming, particularly if you need the item to arrive more quickly. What causes items to take several weeks or even several months to ship, and is there anything you can do about it?
It turns out, there’s a fairly simple explanation, and you may be able to receive the item much more quickly using an Amazon feature that’s not very well-known.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about these items that are slow to ship on Amazon.
Why Do Some Amazon Items Take 1-3 Months To Ship?
With the majority of items being processed and shipped out in a matter of days (sometimes as quick as even 1-day shipping), you may wonder – what actually causes items to take so long to begin the shipping process?
See, this time doesn’t even include the actual the delivery time of the product, just the time for it to actually ship out from Amazon. Granted, Amazon usually ships things out quickly once the orders process (though not always), but still. What gives?
In order to understand the reasoning behind this, you must first understand how items arrive in Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
Items arrive in the warehouses in one of two ways.
Either Amazon places a purchase order with a company and manufacturer (who then sends the purchased items to Amazon), or independent sellers decide on their own what items they want to stock in Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
It isn’t until an item has both arrived in the fulfillment center and has been fully scanned in, that it can then be shipped to customers.
But, it doesn’t end there!
Amazon currently has over 110 fulfillment centers in the United States alone. When sellers create shipments to send into Amazon, Amazon will direct sellers to send units to only a handle of fulfillment and distribution centers originally.
Once these initial units arrive, Amazon will then divide them up and spread them out to other fulfillment centers, so they can be located closer to more customers. The entire process of sending the units across the United States can take several weeks to complete, as each shipment must also be unpackaged, scanned in, and processed at all of the destination centers as well.
Now normally, you might think that Amazon shouldn’t show the item unless it is already in stock, ready to be sold. However, this is not the case.
Instead, Amazon may begin showing the item as being in stock as soon as the units are on their way to the first set of fulfillment and distribution centers! This is true even if the seller’s shipment originated across the ocean in China, in which case it may take over a month on its own for the shipment to arrive by sea.
Amazon uses an advanced algorithm based on their own internal data to predict when the item is likely to be fully processed, and ready to be shipped out. This date may be used on the sales page as Amazon’s shipping estimate for that item.
Did you know however that there may be other sellers with the exact same product hidden on the page, that may already have the item ready to ship?
More on that in a moment. There is one other reason why items may take weeks or months to begin shipping as well.
Dropshippers And Manufacturers
One alternate reason is that the seller has chosen not to ship the items to Amazon’s fulfillment centers, but will be shipping the item to you directly themselves.
All Amazon sellers choosing this option have the ability to set their ‘handling time’ for that item. This is the number of business days allowed before they’re supposed to ship the product.
In some cases, sellers will set this to a very lengthy time period, usually for one of two reasons:
- If they ship the item well ahead of their handling time, they can choose a cheaper, slowing shipping option and still have it arrive on time.
- They are a dropshipper, meaning that when you order, they order it from someone else for a cheaper price. They then send the item to you when they receive it.
- They are a factory that does not have the item on hand at the moment, and need to make it first.
Giving themselves a window of several months to ship the items allows all of these strategies to work, even though it definitely hurts their sales levels.
How To Potentially Receive Items More Quickly
Even if Amazon says that an item usually takes 1 to 3 months to ship, don’t worry! There may be a chance that you can receive the item more quickly.
Many people don’t know this, but Amazon is made up of millions of small sellers, many of which sell the exact same items, on the exact same page.
Amazon chooses only one seller at a time to win the ‘buy box’. If an Amazon seller is in the buy box, then they will get the sale when you click the Add To Cart button.
Amazon usually chooses this seller based on price, with the cheapest offer winning the buy box most frequently. However, there are many other factors that go into it.
The point I’m getting at is this – just because the item currently says it will ship in several months, doesn’t mean there isn’t another seller that already has the item available.
In order to find a list of all sellers on an Amazon listing, all you have to do is scroll down past the add to cart button, until you see a box that looks like this:
Click on the little arrow, to bring up a list of all sellers. As you can see below, this will also show all of their shipping dates:
The listing at the top is the offer in the buy box, which is scheduled to arrive 3 weeks from the date of writing this article.
Below at the bottom, I’ve highlighted an offer from another seller that arrives in only a few days, although it is $10 more expensive.
In many instances, the difference between sellers may only be a few pennies. In fact, I’ve found other sellers selling items even cheaper this way!
Although not every item has multiple sellers, this can be a good way to reduce a shipping time of several months down to several days, often without paying much more in price.
If you’ve ever wondered why some Amazon items take months to ship, now you know.
Fortunately, in many cases the shipping time can be cut down by choosing an alternate seller.
Note however that in many cases, the message listed is just for the item to ship, not for it actually to be delivered.
If you’re experiencing slow shipping and delivery times (even on items that were supposed to arrive quickly), you may wish to check out this article. It will go over all of the reasons why, and what you can do about it.
Wishing you the best!
– James McAllister