Preparing your products for FBA warehousing
What is FBA?
Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA is a great solution for fulfillment with many incredible benefits for your eCommerce business. The process for FBA is relatively simple. After admission into Amazon’s FBA program, you send your selected inventory to Amazon’s storage warehouses and monitor it through their specialized inventory tracking system. However, you must correctly prepare your products for FBA warehousing to ensure they arrive in pristine condition.
Why does correct packaging matter?
It is not just a matter of packing your products into a box and sending it to Amazon. Amazon has some very specific packaging requirements for their FBA clients. While they may seem annoying at first when you think about it from a business perspective they are just common sense.
Poorly packaged goods can be damaged in transit.
Poorly labeled goods may get lost or clients may get the wrong order.
Over packaged goods are wasteful and impact the environment.
Poor packaging has an impact on your business reputation.
Amazon takes its packaging requirements seriously. There are penalties for suppliers who fail to comply. For example, Amazon may dispose of your inventory and may block future shipments to its fulfillment centers. Improperly labeled products may be marked as unsellable. And on top of that, you may be charged a non-compliance fee.
Preparing your products
Strict FBA preparation is required for different products. You can select the FBA prep service for Amazon to prepare your products for you. While this can be a great idea, the downside is that this comes at a per-item cost, and Amazon can only prep products with a single UPC or EAN that corresponds to an ASIN in Amazon’s product catalog. Even those who sign up for the FBA prep service should properly package their products for safe arrival at the fulfillment center. It is important to carefully package any fragile items, glass, or sharp objects. You can find detailed descriptions for the required FBA prep on Amazon, but here’s a general guide:
-Bubble Wrap: Bubble wrap should be tightly wrapped and taped closed. The scannable barcode should be placed outside of the bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is used for fragile, easily damaged items or heavy/dense items that could damage other items in transit.
-Tape: Extra taping may be necessary to fully seal a box, polybag, or bubble wrap. Tape an item if it is at risk for falling out of the packaging, able to leak if the lid is not secured with tape, or needs tape to fully seal the container.
The most obvious but most important packing supply is a box. Amazon requires FBA shipments to be packed in boxes, not plastic packages or envelopes.
Amazon FBA packaging requirements
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the detail of the requirements of Amazon FBA packaging. But if you break the requirements down into a set of simple headings they make a lot of sense and the Amazon website has a comprehensive help service called Seller Central which provides advice on packaging and prep requirements.
It’s important to be aware that Amazon specifications may change and be sure to stay in touch with any new requirements.
Amazon’s specifications cover general packaging requirements and requirements for particular categories of shipments including loose products, requirements for items sold as sets, boxed units, and particular packaging materials.
General packaging requirements
-Each unique unit or product type (eg size or color) must have a unique FNSKU.
-Each unit must have an exterior scannable barcode with corresponding human-readable numbers that are easily accessible.
-You can either use manufacturer barcodes (eg GCID, UPC, EAN, or ISBN) or Amazon barcodes (ASIN or FNSKU).
-Existing barcodes on the outside of shipping boxes must be rendered un-scannable. This can be done by covering the redundant code with tape or by using a black felt-tip to block it out. This ensures that the incorrect barcode cannot be accidentally scanned.
-Each unit, including multiple volume book sets, must be contained within a single, secure package.
-Units may not include multiple pieces requiring assembly by Amazon.
-Units not contained in secure packaging must be bagged or secured with tape.
-Footwear must be packaged with no shoe material exposed, either in boxes or in poly bags. Polybags must have a suffocation warning (see below for detailed packaging requirements for poly bags).
Amazon FBA general labeling requirements
-Product labels must all include the exact same product title.
-Use no more than 50 characters.
-Capitalise the first letter of each word but do not use ALL CAPS.
-Symbols and special characters are not allowed.
-Promotional titles are not allowed.
Items sold as sets:
-Units that are sold as sets must be marked as sets on their packaging and labeled clearly to that effect, for example, “Sold as set” or “Set. Do not separate.” Units labeled as a set must be sealed so that they cannot be separated.
Items sold as boxed units:
-Boxed units must be six sided and must have openings that will not easily open on their own.
-If the box can be easily opened on its own, adhesives or staples must be used.
-The box must not collapse when medium pressure is applied to any of the sides.
-If the boxed unit has perforated sides or openings, it must pass a 1m drop test. This consists of one drop on each side and one drop on a corner.
-If the product does not pass this test, it must be placed in a polybag with a suffocation warning.
-Boxes may not exceed the standard weight limit of 25 kg unless they contain one single oversized item that exceeds 50 lbs.
-Boxes containing jewelry or watches must not exceed 20 kg.
Requirements for poly bags
Seal the items in a clear but thick polyethylene bag. Place a barcode label on the outside or make sure that the barcode can be scanned through the polybag. Poly bagging is used to prevent leaks and spills, protect from dust or dirt, and keep loose items together.
This requirement is for poly bags that are used to protect product items.
Polybags with a 10cm opening or larger (measured when flat) must have a suffocation warning either printed on the bag or attached as a label.
Amazon has precise requirements for minimum suffocation warning label print size corresponding to the length plus width of the bag:
-The thickness of the bag must be at least 1.5mm.
-The polybag must be transparent.
-It has a barcode or XOO-label that is scannable through the bag or has an XOO or ASIN label on the outside of the bag.
-The polybag must be completely sealed.
-The poly bag or shrink-wrap must not protrude more than 3 inches past the dimensions of the product.
All products in a box must have a matching SKU and condition and must have been packaged by the manufacturer.
Boxes with the same product must contain equal quantities of that product in the box and contain no more than 150 units per case.
When receiving this type of shipment the fulfillment centre scans one unit from the box and the box is placed in the inventory.
In some cases, multiple case packs may be packed into a larger box called a master carton. The above requirements apply at the case pack level.
Products that expire must include the expiration date on the master carton in a 36-point or larger font and on the individual units.
Expiration dates must be in the format MM-DD-YYYY or MM-YYYY.
The expiration date must be accessible to Amazon during the receiving process even when the product is subject to additional packaging requirements (e.g: for fragile items).
If you decide to sell your product FBA, keep these tips and instructions in mind. There are always ways to save time and money and to streamline the process so you can ship products to Amazon FBA hassle-free.
How long does it take for my products to be processed?
It will take anywhere from 1-2 weeks for Amazon to receive your product, depending on the size of your box, time of year, and distance from the destination. Once it arrives, Amazon will accept it into their system. You will receive a confirmation email that your products have arrived. At this point, your products are live on Amazon and are Prime Eligible.
This process of how to prepare products for FBA can be quite complicated depending on what you send and the amount you send in, but hopefully, this article has provided you with a few valuable tips!