If you use FBA services to streamline your operations, you need to ensure that your units are properly packaged for Amazon. You need an efficient and organized packing process to ensure your goods aren’t turned away at the Amazon warehouse.
What is the process of preparing your goods for Amazon fulfillment?
Why use FBA?
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is an effective way to outsource your backend operations. Amazon will take care of warehousing, picking, fulfillment, shipping, and even customer service. This frees up your time to focus on sales and marketing to grow your business.
FBA also makes your products Prime eligible. If you use FBA, your products are automatically labeled “Prime” and you can offer additional shipping options to your customers, like one or two-day shipping.
FBA simplifies your business operations while providing top-notch service to your customers.
But if you use FBA, you need to ensure your products are appropriately packed and labeled.
How do you package and prep your goods for FBA?
1. Convert to FBA.
Before you start packaging, you need to prep your goods for shipment on your Seller Central.
Go to “Inventory” and “Manage Inventory.” In the “Actions” drop-down menu, click “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon” for the items you want to include in FBA.
Note that you don’t need to include your entire portfolio of products in FBA. You can have a few products in the FBA services while fulfilling others by yourself (FBM). It’s usually easiest to send all products to FBA, but there are some circumstances where you may want to pick and pack the products yourself.
2. Choose your preferences.
Once you’ve converted your products to FBA, you’ll have the choice of two preferences: FBA Prep Service and Stickerless Commingled Inventory.
FBA Prep Service will prep and label your products for you. This frees up your time to focus on selling rather than packing and prepping. However, there is a small fee per unit prepped. These fees may cut into your margins if you sell a low-margin, oversize, or fragile item. Packaging your products yourself usually offers higher margins but it’s time-consuming – sometimes taking away from other aspects of your business.
If you choose the FBA Label and Prep services, you’ll need to enable the service when creating your shipping plan. Learn more about FBA Prep Services here.
Stickerless Commingled Inventory is when you opt for your inventory to be mixed in with other sellers’ inventory of the same product. This doesn’t mean you have more inventory available; if you have 20 units in your stock, you can only sell 20 units.
However, this allows you to offer faster picking and shipping times to your customer. This inventory system allows Amazon to condense items in the warehouse, which simplifies the process of fulfillment. They can also pull inventory from the warehouse closest to the customer to ensure faster delivery.
Stickerless Commingled Inventory is a great way to offer strong backend customer service.
Note: You can only opt into this if you’re selling new, unused items.
After you’ve selected your preferences, you’ll be asked to “convert only” or “convert & send inventory.” If you “convert only,” you can add more items before going to shipping. If you convert and send, you’ll move on to the shipping plan status.
3. Create a shipping plan.
The shipping plan is where you’ll add items that you plan to send to Amazon for this specific shipment. Do not include items you are sending in future shipments.
The shipping plan requires your “ship from” address, which is where you’ll send the items from, and the packing type. There are two packing type options: individual products and case-packed products. Case-packed products are if you’re sending a whole box or case with the same exact unit in it.
4. Print shipping labels.
After creating your shipping plan, you’ll want to print the shipping labels. These will be attached to the exterior of the units and the boxes. If you’ve opted for FBA Prep Service, you can skip this step.
After selecting “Prep by merchant,” make sure all units and quantities are correct. Then, click “Print labels for this page.”
This will automatically download a PDF with all the barcodes and labels you’ll need for that shipment. These barcodes are specific to your shipment, so Amazon can appropriately link these products to your account and sales. Print them on sticker paper to easily affix to the units.
You’ll also want to print shipping labels. If you know the weight and size of the shipments, Amazon will calculate shipping for you. You can then pay Amazon for the label, so you can print and attach it to your shipment for easy drop off at a local package center. You have 24 hours to void the cost if you change your mind.
Then hit “continue” and give the shipment a name.
Easier shipment options for medium to large shipments:
- Shipping Plan File Upload tool: fill in .csv template and upload to Amazon for faster barcode creation
- Scan & Ship: use a barcode scanner to print labels one at a time as you pack each box.
5. Prep your products.
Now you have to prep the physical products to be FBA-ready. If they aren’t appropriately packed, Amazon can turn away the items. This can cost you a significant amount of time and money to ship back the items and repackage, so it’s important to get it right the first time.
The requirements for all units:
- Each individual unit must have a visible, scannable barcode/label on the exterior.
- The SKU on the label must be unique to the product.
- All existing barcodes or labels need to be covered by the Amazon printed label.
- Multiple parts of the same unit must be in a single, secure package. Do not put in different packages.
- No Styrofoam peanuts or shredded paper.
- No marketing materials in packaging.
There are also specifications for different types of products.
Loose products: All loose products must be bagged and secured with a non-adhesive band or removable tape.
Sets: All bundles or sets must be packaged together and marked as sets so they’re not separated. Include a label that says “Sold as set. Do not separate” (or a similar phrase).
Boxes: You don’t need additional packaging for boxes. Boxes must be six-sided and securely closed on all sides. The box cannot collapse under medium pressure and must pass a 3-foot drop test on each side and one corner. If it doesn’t pass the test, the box needs to be put in a poly-bag.
Poly-bag: Poly bags are useful for loose products. All poly-bags:
- must be transparent.
- must be at least 1.5 mil thick.
- must have a scannable bar code on exterior.
- must be sealed.
- must have a large, legible suffocation warning.
- cannot protrude more than 3” past dimensions of product.
Case-packed products: These are if you are selling an entire box of the same type of product, as opposed to individual products. Requirements include:
- All products in box must have matching SKUs and labels.
- Include no more than 150 units per case.
- Each case-packed box in one shipped should have the same quantity of units.
There are unique specifications for a variety of units with regards to packaging. For example, all footwear must be packaged with no shoe material exposed. Adult merchandise must have all explicit photos covered. Fragrances must be tightly sealed and secured in poly-bags to avoid scents leaking. Products with expiration dates require visible expiration date on outside of packaging.
These are just a few examples, so it’s important to be aware of the particular packing specifications of your products.
Now you’re ready to ship to Amazon!
The Bottom Line
FBA can streamline your operations to create a more efficient fulfillment process. In order for Amazon fulfillment to run smoothly, you need to correctly package and prep your goods for FBA.