In 2020, there are more Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) Guides out there on the big wide web than you can shake a stick at. Literally.
But what there are not a lot of are Amazon FBA Guides on how to ship your goods to Amazon Fulfillment Centres in the first place. This is clearly a crucial step in the proceedings, and one which requires some thought.
Happily, IO Scout is here to help you navigate this journey.
Before we go much further, let’s look a little at Amazon FBA, and what it necessitates.
The FBA process is a no-brainer for those Amazon sellers who are selling copious amounts of products, every single day of the week. You don’t want to have to be dealing with all the packaging, posting, and customer queries every hour of the day.
To have a successful Amazon FBA business, you need to have happy customers. Happy customers who come back and buy more from you, again and again.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Organize how many units of products you plan to send to Amazon’s Fulfillment Centres
- Your products are installed within Amazon’s Fulfillment Centres for storage until they are sold
- Customers place their orders on Amazon’s Marketplace for your products
- FBA receive the orders
- FBA process the orders
- FBA pack the orders
- FBA arrange shipment of the orders
- And if any customer service questions, complaints or queries come up along the way, FBA deal with that, too.
- Oh, and FBA also handles customer returns
- Save yourself a lot of time - time that can be spent on other business activities, rather than wrapping parcels!
- Removal of stress over order issues
- Removal of stress over complaints from customers
- Prime delivery for your customers, meaning they receive their orders quicker
- Removal of stress over shipping and delivery issues
- No order errors
- Reassurance of Prime logo on your product listings
- Increased presence on Amazon, as FBA sellers are ranked higher, so your products are guaranteed to reach a wider audience
This all sounds great, but this service, of course, comes with a fee attached. And they can be substantial fees, indeed. It pays to investigate the FBA fees, so you can calculate an accurate profit margin.
How much does the FBA service cost an Amazon Seller?
Managing your business through Amazon’s FBA process sustains the resulting costs:
- FBA Fees
- FBA Storage Fees
- Monthly Amazon FBA Fee
Now we need to investigate how you are going to get your products to Amazon’s Fulfillment Centres in the first place. You can organize an Amazon shipping plan in advance, and there is no expiration date, so you can get your shipping plan set up and ready to go.
In your Amazon Seller Account portal, navigate to:
- Click Manage FBA Inventory on the dashboard
- Select the box to the left of your item, then click on Action on 1 Selected , which is located just above the item listing
- Click Send/Replenish Inventory
Note: There is a simpler route if the item is already listed as an FBA listing, and it’s simply a case of selecting the Send Inventory option.
- Select Create a New Shipping Plan option, and also Case-packed products . This relates to sending over and above 1 product unit to Amazon. Ensure all SKUs are noted in the one plan.
- Navigate to Continue to Shipping Plan
- Next, you’ll be asked to provide the amount of units and cases you intend to send to Amazon’s warehouses – then go ahead and click Continue
Preparation of your products
This stage needs a bit of organization and fore thought. If you are sending your own shipment to Amazon Fulfillment Centres, here’s the essential info.
Arm yourself with plenty of transparent polybags. This is because each item needs to be packed in an individual polybag (and must include the safety label so it can be visible, clearly). The requirements for poly bags are that they need to have an opening of 5” or more, and obvious suffocation notices.
A handy list of things to have in your Amazon shipment preparation area are:
- Printer for labelling products
- Printed labels
- Weighing scale
- Tape measure
- Parcel tape
- Opaque bags
- Bubble wrap
- Labels reading Sold as set and Ready to ship
- Amazon barcodes
- Packing materials
It pays dividends to be super-organized with your packing station, and to have everything you are going to need to hand.
Packing Checklist for Amazon FBA Centres
- 6-sided box with no damage to the flaps of the box itself
- Clear, simple, and easy-to-read address label including the delivery and collection information
- For pallet shipments, you will need 4 labels for each side of the box
- Take off any previous labels if you are recycling boxes for your shipment. This saves confusion!
- All your products should be wrapped individually
- The FBA guidance for box standardization are: RSC Regular Slotted Carton Box, B flute, ECT-32, and 200lb./square inch burst strength.
A key point to note that if you are shipping goods with your own Amazon FBA private label, you can organize your shipment by the method that you want your buyers to obtain them. For non-Amazon FBA private label sellers, double check the Amazon FBA guidelines for packaging, because, chances are, your shipments will be mixed with other shipments.
Certain Regulations for Categories
Some products in certain categories have to follow different shipping guidelines.
FBA Packaging Procedures
- Label your products either by using your own label printer, or Amazon can do this for you (for a fee)
- Print Labels for this page
- Pop your printed labels on your products – then Continue
- Go ahead and Approve Shipment if you are satisfied with everything. Now is the time you can allocate a name to this shipment
- Go to Work on Shipment – and choose between UPS or FedEx
- Everything in One Box is what you want to select next
- Go ahead and weigh your package, and take measurements of height, depth and width to add into the portal. Confirm.
- Shipping Charges will work out your shipping costs at this stage
- Agree Terms & Conditions, then Accept Charges
- Print Box Labels as per Amazon’s guidelines.
- Complete Shipment
You do have the option to select Merchant in the preparation drop-down, if you are leaving it up to your supplier to prepare your products for you.
Amazon generates which FBA centres will be your destination FBA warehouse. This is automatic, and not in your control, I am afraid! It’s a common situation to have your shipment separated into several different warehouse locations.
Then your packages are ready to be sent to FedEx or UPS, depending on the courier method you have already chosen. You are able to track your delivery if you have chosen to use UPS as your courier service, and see the progress via your Amazon Seller Central account portal.
Amazon Inventory Placement Service
To avoid your shipments being dispatched to any number of Amazon FBA warehouses, you can choose the IPS (Inventory Placement Service). This ensures your entire shipment is sent to just the one receiving warehouse. A word of warning however: doing so means you cannot choose your FBA centre, and you may end up shipping your products from China to Florida, and as you can imagine, these costs are going to soar then!
Inventory Placement Service Fees
Standard Size (per item)
1lb or less
1 to 2lb
2lb and more
$0.40 + $0.10/lb over the first 2lb
Oversize (per item)
5lb or under
5lb or more
$1.30 + $0.20/lb above the first 2lb
You can use this guide above to work out the impending fees for the Inventory Placement Service, if you are considering using this service.
You’ve reached the final hurdle, also known as the last-mile delivery. Ship either LTL (less than truckload) or SPD (small parcel delivery). A general rule to follow is that if you are shipping less than 2 pallets, SPD is probably the best option, which you can organize with Amazon.
LCL stands for less than container loads. And it’s a factor to consider when organizing your shipment plan for your goods.
LCL can actually be more costly than shipping full containers, so it may be beneficial to consider shipping as a full container, as your price per unit may well be lower. You can work out whether this would work in your favour or not by checking the amount of cartons you plan to ship. If your planned cartons add up to more than 50% of the space in the shipping container (approximately twelve to fifteen cartons), it’s probable that it would be cheaper to send your goods in a full container.
One of the downsides of shipping by LCL is that your goods will be combined with others. Leading to a likelihood of the container being opened multiple times during inspection and customs, which inevitably adds delays, or potentially, damage, to your shipment’s journey.
Amazon will go ahead and confirm receipt via email – and the items will be included in your inventory.
To get your inventory to Amazon as quickly as possible, and therefore, get selling as quickly as possible, it’s important to:
- Ensure your products are packaged correctly, and as per Amazon’s guidelines
- Ensure your products are labelled correctly
- Ensure your boxes are labelled correctly
- Ensure your barcodes are readable
Any errors with packaging and labelling can result in your entire shipment sent back to you, costing you time and money.
Amazon FBA Packing Summed Up
There are a fair few guidelines and restrictions regarding shipping your products to Amazon. And don’t skip these, as if the rules about preparation of products, labelling of products, safety guidelines, and any restrictions concerning items are not adhered to, your shipment could be refused. Additionally, you could face extra fees due to non-compliance at the Amazon Fulfillment Centre and administration charges on top of this!
Get a checklist on the go to triple check you have adhered to the FBA guidelines, and all will be well!