Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a great way of outsourcing all your backend operations to Amazon. Amazon does all the warehousing, fulfilling, shipping and customer service, leaving you with enough time to spend on marketing and promotional activities. FBA simplifies the business operations in many ways; however, it is not that easy to prepare your products for FBA shipment.
Let us take a detailed look at how to prepare for Amazon warehouse.
1. Convert to FBA
If you are already on Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM), you need to change it to Fulfillment by Amazon in the Seller Central.
For this, go to “Inventory” and “Manage Inventory” – And in the “Actions” drop-down menu select “Change to Fulfillment by Amazon”.
Note – You need not necessarily include all the SKUs in FBA. You can choose to have some in FBA and the others in FBM as per your convenience and logistics requirements.
2. Choosing Your Preferences Right
Once the products are set to FBA in the “Manage Inventory”, you need to set your preferences – either FBA Prep Service or the Stickerless Commingled Inventory.
FBA Prep Service – This will be the best choice if you don’t have the manpower to prep and label your products on your own. Of course, Amazon will take a small fee per unit prepared. But it will free up a lot of time on manual work which you can alternatively spend on ranking your products better.
Stickerless Commingled Inventory – Opt for this if you are fine with your inventory mixing up with the goods of the other sellers who sell the same product. So clearly, this is not an option for the Private Label sellers. The only advantage of this option is to spread out your inventory across the different warehouse to enable faster picking and shipping of your products from the closest fulfillment center to the customer.
3. Creating Shipping Plan
The next step is to create a shipping plan for the items that you are planning to send to the Amazon’s warehouse for this particular shipment. The shipping plan asks for the “Ship from” address – the address from where you will be sending your goods to the warehouse, and the packing type. There are two options for the packing type: individual products and the case-packed products. Case-packed is to be chosen if you are selling a bulk number of units packed as a whole in a single case rather than selling individual units.
4. Labeling Products
After creating your shipment plan, the next step is to print the labels to be applied to the product. Every label contains the barcode and the SKU title that is being prepared for the shipment. Once you select “Prep by merchant”, you may click on the “Print labels for this page” where it will automatically generate a PDF with all the barcodes for the number of labels that are printed. These barcodes are unique and are specific to your shipment – these are used to track your products and shipment by Amazon. Print these labels on a stick-on paper in order to easily affix them on the product boxes or bags.
5. Preparing Your Products
Here comes the most important and tedious manual job. Getting your products to be FBA-ready is the most important task as if you have not packed them as per the Amazon FBA standards, they will be turned away and you need to bear the cost involved in shipping them back and repackaging them.
So here are some guidelines to get it right the first time.
• It is mandatory to have a visible, scannable barcode/label pasted on the exterior of every unit.
• Labels/printed barcodes to be covered by the Amazon printed label.
• A unique SKU number on every label.
• If the product has multiple parts, everything has to be put together inside a single package with a single unique label and not in different packages.
There are also different guidelines to pack different types of products.
Loose products: Loose products can be bagged in a poly bag and secured with a non-adhesive tape.
Sets: If your product contains bundles or sets, it is best to put them in a case together or marked as sets with a label reading “Sold as set. Do not separate”.
Boxes: If your product comes in a box, it doesn’t need any additional packaging. Just ensure the box is secured well on all the 6 sides to pass the 3-foot drop test and doesn’t collapse. If it does, then it has to be put in a poly bag to be extra secure.
Poly Bag: Poly bags are mostly used for loose products.
Make sure your poly bag is:
• At least 1.5 mil thick
• Has a scannable barcode sticker on the exterior
• Not more than 3” past the dimensions of the product
Case-Packed: This is when you are selling a large quantity of same type of product together as a single unit, as opposed to selling individual units.
Here are some guidelines for case-packed products:
• Matching SKUs and labels are mandatory for all the products in the box
• There should not be more than 150 units per case
• Every case-packed box in a shipment must contain the same number of units inside.
Now that you have prepared your FBA shipment, drop off the package at your nearby UPS store and keep your fingers crossed while you wait for Amazon to receive it. It will take anywhere between 1-2 weeks for Amazon to receive your package and acknowledge you with an email confirmation. Once it is on Amazon’s warehouse, your products will go live and are eligible for Prime.
Write to us in the comment section if you need any more information on this.
Good luck and Happy selling!
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Fabongo is a Vancouver, British Columbia based agency providing human resources to manage all things Amazon marketplace.