As with all online platforms, selling products on Amazon means you have to follow specific guidelines. You need to ensure Amazon-compliant packaging, labels, and dunnage if you want your products to reach Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
One of the big challenges for eCommerce sellers are finding the best materials and methods to prep their items for different fulfillment networks. They need to deliver to a wide customer base across (ideally) multiple sales channels, and all without breaking the bank or compromising their brand.
Finding warehouse space, processing orders and returns, and shipping to consumers is often time-consuming. Any setbacks can impede the business’s ability to scale up and meet their customers’ demands.
Fortunately, Amazon’s FBA service allows business owners to specialize in selling while Amazon handles everything else. We’ve identified the ins and outs of FBA’s shipping guidelines, some tips to prep your items for FBA, how to manage your FBA shipments, and why you should consider using an FBA prep service.
What exactly is Fulfilment by Amazon?
Business owners who sign up for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) can benefit from Amazon’s warehousing, shipping, and customer service set-up. Sellers pack and ship their inventory to an Amazon fulfillment center. Amazon handles picking it up, packing, and the transportation of the merchandise, together with providing customer service to the customer.
There’s no minimum on the amount of units sellers can ship through Amazon FBA. Sellers pay as they are going, and are charged just for the orders that Amazon fulfills (as well as a fee for storage space). Leaving the order fulfillment and shipping processes to Amazon frees up a lot of time and resources for little businesses to focus on marketing and selling their products.
Advantages of FBA
Selling on Amazon is a must for eCommerce merchants. The biggest advantage for sellers who ship products through FBA is that they benefit from Amazon’s infrastructure. It makes products available for Prime shipping and broadens its access to customers throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. All orders are often managed through an easy-to-use online interface for smooth communication.
How to package items for Amazon FBA
Doing business through FBA means that vendors must suit Amazon’s packaging standards. Sellers should use the right shipping and labeling supplies before directing their products to the fulfillment centers.
Here are some tips to help you avoid the most common Amazon FBA prep mistakes we see.
- Your labels must be clearly legible so that warehouse workers can easily segregate products.
- Items sold as a set like books, shampoos, conditioners, and toys have to be marked intrinsically on their packaging with a label that reads “Sold as Set” or “Do Not Separate.”
- Sellers must also label any perishable items with the expiration date on the packaging.
- When shipping glass items, like jars or bottles, we recommend adding a fragile label.
- When it comes time to box in items, everything must be contained within one, secure package. Boxes should be securely closed, with openings or lids firmly sealed — we recommend tuck top boxes for added security. Glue or tape can also be used to keep boxes closed.
- Boxes must not collapse when pressure is applied to any of the edges, so sellers might want to think about using heavy-duty corrugated boxes for safer shipments.
Your specific SKUs may need special packaging, unique dunnage, or something else we haven’t covered above. Learn more about how MyFBAPrep can take the prep work off your hands.
How to manage FBA shipments
Once you’ve got your prep work all done, it’s time to start on your FBA shipments. Luckily, this is something that can be done from the comforts of your home.
The goal of creating and managing FBA shipments is getting your merchandise into Amazon warehouses across the country.
Did you know that over 175 operating fulfillment centers are available in the US? This is how Amazon can process tens of thousands of merchandise and offer free 2-day shipping to Prime customers.
It is not hard to create a new shipping plan. Managing your inventory, labeling products correctly, prepping merch, and ensuring you meet all of Amazon’s guidelines is difficult. Working with a reliable prep service means avoiding time-consuming merch mix-ups and service fees, as well as potential risks to your account. But we’ll talk more about that later.
Before shipping to an FBA fulfillment center
Before even trying to ship anything into FBA, there’s some prep required. Confirm a listing for it in your FBA Inventory. Shipping orders are tied to a checklist, which you employ to make your FBA shipping plan.
Create Skeleton Listings
If you’re looking to ship and prepare fresh products for FBA shipments, but don’t have optimized images or bullets, that’s okay! You’ll still make what our experts call a “skeleton listing.” This provides all of the essential information to Amazon without it being live.
To create a skeleton listing, navigate to Manage Inventory> Add a Product
Step 1: Select Inventory to be shipped
From your dashboard in Seller Central, navigate to Manage Inventory.
Select the checkbox on the left for all the products that you will transition to FBA, then navigate to the Send / Replenish Inventory option on the menu.
Step 2: Input Pick Up Location
Select Create New Shipping Plan, then choose the Ship From address. This address will tell the courier which location to select up the shipment from, so it might be your business, warehouse, or supplier’s warehouse.
During this time, you’ll have got to select the packing type. Consider if you’ll be sending in individual products (cases containing different products) or case-packed products (cases containing the same items).
After this, go ahead and click Continue to Shipping Plan.
Step 3: Identify How Many Units to be Shipped
Choose the All Products tab to evaluate all the things you’ve got selected to enroll in FBA shipping.
Set the number of products by filling in the over-all number of products you’ll be sending in the Units column.
In the future, you’ll duplicate this plan and make slight changes to the number of units to save lots of time.
Step 4: Prepare Your Products
Navigate to the Who Preps tab to resolve whether you’d wish to prepare the merch yourself or offload the task onto Amazon for a per-item fee.
To ensure your items arrive safely, Amazon tells you ways they need you to organize your products.
If you’re prepping products yourself, select the Prep Required tab. You’ll find preparation guidelines for your product types. Carefully assess the requirements to ensure either you or your manufacturer take these precautions. Doing this assures you that you are not wasting valued time.
Step 5: Choose Who’s Liable for Labeling
Click the Labeling required tab to ascertain an inventory of the products that need Amazon, UPC, or EAN barcodes.
From Who Labels, select FBA Label Service to dump the task onto Amazon for a per-item fee.
Suppose you label your products yourself, select Merchant. You’ll want to see all of the barcode requirements, which specify label placement, printer type, and even the paper type labels.
Step 6: Confirm Everything is Correct
Navigate to the Review Shipments page to ascertain the fulfillment centers that you are assigned to. Your shipping plan may have to be chopped into multiple shipments. This means that you need to send products to different fulfillment centers to make it easier to ship to customers across the country.
If that’s the case, in your Seller Central account, attend Settings > Fulfillment by Amazon > Inbound Settings > Inventory Placement Option > Edit to send your shipment to one fulfillment center and have Amazon split them for you.
Review your Amazon FBA shipment details because you can’t delete approved FBA shipments, and surely you can’t change product quantities. After double-checking your shipment ID, destination Amazon FBA fulfillment center code, their locations are correct, click Approve Shipments.
Step 7: Choose Your Preferred FBA Delivery Methods
Congratulations! The Prepare Delivery page is the final step.
Choose your delivery method, which can either be
- Small Parcel Delivery (SPD) – items packed in individual boxes
- Less Than Truckload (LTL) – cases or boxes stacked or on pallets
- Full Truckload (FTL) – Inventory that fills a truckload and goes straight to an Amazon FBA fulfillment center.
After that, select your carrier, choose the number of boxes you’re using, schedule, and pay for the delivery. You’ll have the choice of using Amazon-partnered pages that provide discounted rates.
You’ll be prompted to print your box labels, which you’ll secure to your packages for pickup for FBA shipping.
Tip: Save the plans you make, edit them, and reuse them later. The more shipments you manage and prepare, the easier it will be for you to navigate all the steps.
How FBA prep services can help your eCommerce business
Knowing the correct strategy to sell online can propel any online business to the next level. FBA gives Amazon sellers an efficient way to fulfill items, but what about everything else? Here’s where FBA prep services can come to the rescue.
How FBA prep services work
Before understanding how this service can help grow your online business, it’s a good idea to have a solid grasp of the process. Most individuals who sell online would rather focus energy on managing their business than assembling boxes.
With an Amazon FBA prep service, you can outsource storage, preparation, labeling, and everything else that needs to be done to ensure your items are compliant with the FBA network requirements.
What business owners responsible for
Utilizing FBA services can take a heavy burden off your shoulders, but there are a few things you’ll still be responsible for. Keep these three important factors in the back of your mind, and you should be good to go.
1. Know your product – You’ll need to keep a close eye on your SKUs to identify which ones are best sellers, and which run the risk of being stale stock. Don’t waste money on warehousing and prepping too many items that don’t sell as quickly.
2. Stay in stock – While it’s a good problem to have, running out of inventory and selling out may cause marketplace suspensions and loss of sales. You risk your rankings falling, and your customers buying from your competitors instead.
3. Perfect your customer acquisition – eCommerce is all about making sales, and you can’t do that without optimizing your listings, refining your funnels, and reaching your ideal customers on the channels they prefer. Great items will sell, but not if nobody knows about them.
What you can outsource to an FBA prep team
Outsourcing your FBA prep effectively allows you to scale your online business to levels you may not have thought possible. There are several reasons why using Amazon FBA and a prep service to manage FBA shipments is a no-brainer.
- It’s a hassle-free way to run an eCommerce business – Once your items are successfully accepted into the Amazon network, FBA will do all the fulfillment work for you. Do what you love most, which is running your business, without worrying about processing and shipping orders.
- Take advantage of the brand – It’s no secret that Amazon is the top dog in online buying, and customers are willing to pay for it. As of 2021, there are more than 200 million Amazon Prime members worldwide, according to Statista. That’s a lot of consumers willing to pay for extra access to Amazon services, because they know items will reach them quickly and safely.
- Offer customers fast shipping – Clicking a button online and having the product at your doorstep in two days is hard to compete with, which is exactly what the FBA network provides on your behalf.
- Outsource customer service – Being a successful business owner is also about keeping your customers happy, and FBA services have this covered for you. If a buyer is unsatisfied with their item, Amazon provides 24/7 customer service, saving you valuable time.
Wrapping up how to manage your FBA shipments
Using an FBA prep service adds an expense, but saves you time and operational costs. Using FBA enables companies of any size to use Amazon’s vast fulfillment network to get items to customers. Merchants also won’t have to worry about processing refunds, breaking down boxes, or sourcing packing peanuts.
Using FBA and FBA prep services to manage your shipments can help you focus on growing your business while your operations runs seamlessly in the background.