More than two months ago I started the process to have my ESP8266 WeatherStation listed on Amazon. The big online platform offers a service called Fulfilled by Amazon or short FBA which allows you to send your items directly to their warehouse. Your product will then be shipped to your buyers with the usual speed and quality as if it was a product sold directly by Amazon.
While the products you order from my shop come directly from China I have limited possibilities to customize the starter kit with this supplier. For Amazon I wanted an improved product: ready with instructions, packed in a convenient plastic box for storage. So I had to look for another supplier for this special batch. Alibaba helped me to get into contact with some suppliers and picked three to send me samples. All of them sent express and arrived within a few days in Switzerland. I tested the display and the NodeMCU module rather carefully but neglected to test the USB wire since I thought it was a commodity. I picked the supplier based on language, how fast the responded and the price. I made the order and had 20% of them sent to Switzerland while the other 80% went directly to a Amazon warehouse in Texas.
While the shipments were still on the way to Switzerland and the US I desperately needed a USB cable and picked the one from the sample box. But for some strange reason I didn’t see the NodeMCU when plugged into my Mac. I slowly realized that all the USB cables I had ordered were just for charging and not for data transfer. Some harsh emails were exchanged with the supplier in China but I had to realize that it was at least partly my fault. By that time the shipment for the US had just arrived in Texas. What should I do? Removing items from the Amazon inventory is only possible with a destination address in the US and I live in Switzerland.
I remembered that a friend from grammar lived now with her family in the US and contacted her through Facebook. I asked her if her boys could help me to replace the wrong USB cables in exchange for some pocket money and she agreed. Now it took almost a month until Amazon completely removed all the items from their warehouses all over the country. When all of them had arrived at my friends place she and her boys quickly replaced the USB cables with the ones from China my supplier had sent to her. After that UPS picked up the box with the starter kits and brought it to yet another Amazon warehouse.
The moral of the story is that you should always test every aspect of your product even commodity items like USB cables. On the other hand this story also shows that there is (almost) always a way out of such a frustrating situation. Look at it as a challenge and not as a problem.
This is the very short story of my long and winding road from a Chinese supplier to a Amazon warehouse in the US. Now the next chapter has just begun and I keep my fingers crossed that it was worth all the troubles so far… You can see and order the result of that work here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KE7BA3O
A ridiculous amount of coffee was consumed in the process of building this project. Add some fuel if you'd like to keep me going!