Ecommerce Tips

Ecommerce Fulfillment Guide: Multi-Box Strategies on Amazon

June 21, 2024

Have you ever tried to get furniture delivered from Ikea? The popular home furniture brand does many things well: instructional design, a fixed path approach to maximize time spent in the store, and those Swedish meatballs are truly out of this world. However, fast and free delivery on ecommerce orders is not something they prioritize.


Because it’s hard to do. Their assortment is full of big-and-bulky items that often come in multi-box packs. A logistical nightmare.

If you are getting 'delivery not available in your area' messages from Ikea, what’s your next stop? For a lot of people, they head to Amazon, where they know furniture can be delivered right to their doorstep.

Amazon has set consumer expectations for fast and free delivery. Each year, that expectation expands to include more and more product types, such as big-and-bulky and hard-to-ship items. We are seeing this demand in the numbers. The delivery sector that supports big-and-bulky fulfillment is expected to grow at 11.8% annually from 2022 through 2025.

To thrive in this competitive market, brands must adapt to what customers want. 23% of ecommerce shoppers cite slow shipping speed as a top reason why they abandon their carts, while keeping operational costs as low as possible.

Enter multi-box shipping—a shipping strategy that breaks down bulky items into manageable parts, slashing costs, and accelerating delivery times.

In this article, we’ll explore the necessity of shipping multi-box, particularly for larger items. You’ll gain insight into the common challenges related to inventory and shipment tracking while getting expert tips on how to implement multi-box shipping to benefit your brand.

The Shipment Advantage

Traditional shipping methods often lead to increased costs and logistical challenges for big-and-bulky items. Storage and fulfillment fees can quickly add up, making the process expensive. For example, Amazon’s 'large-bulky' fulfillment fees start at $9.61 plus $0.38 per pound, with storage fees ranging from $0.56 to $1.40 per cubic foot. Given that the average 3-seater sofa occupies about 50 cubic feet, it's clear how quickly costs can escalate.

By implementing multi-box shipping, brands can define multiple packages for a sole product, each with custom dimensions and weights. This approach ensures lower and more accurate shipping rates, effectively reducing the extra costs associated with traditional weight calculations.

  • Cost Efficiency: Shipping multiple smaller boxes is often more cost-effective than shipping one large, heavy item. Carriers typically offer lower rates for smaller packages, even when the combined weight is the same. This strategy also helps brands avoid freight charges and additional costs associated with oversized boxing.
  • Prime Eligibility: Multi-box shipping, unlike LTL (less-than-truckload) pallet shipping, qualifies for Prime delivery on Amazon, allowing brands to offer faster shipping options. By listing items as small parcel shipments, brands can provide quicker delivery times, enhancing the overall shopping experience.
  • Improved Customer Experience: Customers benefit from receiving packages that are easier to handle, especially for home deliveries where managing large, unwieldy items can be challenging.
  • Increased Delivery Success Rate: Smaller packages are less likely to face delivery issues related to size restrictions, access problems, or failed delivery attempts due to the recipient's difficulty in managing a large item.

Overall, multi-box shipping for big-and-bulky items streamlines the shipping process, enhances package protection, and often leads to higher customer satisfaction.

Checking All the Boxes

While implementing multi-box, it's important to stay mindful of the potential challenges so you can proactively plan and adapt.

  • Inventory Tracking: Multi-box shipments require one unique physical barcode per shipment versus assigning barcodes to each individual package. When the same UPC barcode is used on all units, it causes confusion during scanning, leading to problems in receiving, handling, and shipping.
  • Shipment Tracking: Multi-box orders may ship from different fulfillment centers and arrive on different days. If customers are not closely monitoring their tracking information, they might mistakenly believe their order is incomplete. To prevent confusion, utilize shipment notifications to keep customers informed about the status of their deliveries.
  • Reverse Logistics: Returning multiple boxes increases the risk of incomplete returns, as one or more boxes may be missed. Retailers then must process several packages for a single return, heightening the chances of errors and complicating inventory management. This added complexity can frustrate customers, potentially damaging the brand's reputation and lowering customer satisfaction.
Implementing a Multi-box Strategy

At Spreetail, shipping big-and-bulky items, especially through Amazon, is our specialty. We manage over 500 multi-box SKUs with Seller Fulfilled Prime and 2-day shipping on other marketplaces.

Multi-box shipping enables us to significantly reduce costs compared to expensive LTL pallet shipments. For instance, one LTL pallet might cost $125, whereas shipping the same items in three separate ground shipping boxes at $20 each totals only $60—less than half the price. This reduction in operational costs means brands can offer more competitive pricing to grow market share.

While the multi-box process can be complex, there is an effective blueprint you can follow to start reducing costs and streamlining fulfillment for your brand. Here's an inside look at what Spreetail has found to be essential elements of a successful multi-box strategy.

  • Organization: Each multi-box item is received, handled, and stored individually within one of our seven Fulfillment Centers, ensuring optimal organization and efficient management. When a customer places an order, separate shipping labels are generated for each multi-box item, ensuring they are shipped from the most optimal Fulfillment Center in the USA based on shipping speed and cost.
  • Tracking: Spreetail's robust fulfillment network covers the entirety of the United States and is designed to effectively manage inventory balancing challenges, ensuring that inventory for all multi-box items is consistently available. Items are never sent out if one part is damaged or OOS (out of stock).
  • Amazon Prime: We prioritize Prime shipping as a crucial factor for favorable best seller rank and customer conversion rates. This is especially challenging with freight or heavy single-boxed items, underscoring the benefits of multi-box shipping. Advocating for multi-box shipping in such cases helps our brands attain Prime eligibility effectively.
  • Training: Our dedicated customer experience and fulfilment center teams undergo thorough training to proficiently handle multi-box products, ensuring smooth operations and exceptional service delivery.
"When it comes to maintaining inventory levels and fulfilling orders, the more complex the product, the more difficult it is to make sure our end customers are consistently satisfied with their experience.  With Spreetail's ability to handle this complexity, we can ensure a Brand's reach isn't interrupted by pesky out-of-stocks and our ability to handle over-sized ensures our consumers aren't waiting more than a couple days for the product to reach them."
- Zach Gulliver, Spreetail Director of Inventory Operations

Our aim is to collaborate closely with all our brand partners to boost sales and effectively reduce operational costs. Multi-box shipping serves as a cornerstone in achieving this mission. We are committed to offering optimized strategies tailored for big-and-bulky brands. If you are looking for ways to reduce your ecommerce operational costs, we would love to hear from you.

Stevie Howard

Digital Marketer

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