Shipping to Amazon FBA
One of the most intimidating parts of selling on Amazon for new sellers is getting their products shipped to Amazon. Shipping can be very confusing if you’re not already familiar with how Amazon requires sellers to do their shipping. In this blog we’ll cover exactly what sellers need to do step-by-step to get their products from them to an Amazon FBA warehouse. This is for sellers that are looking to send their products to Amazon warehouses and sell via FBA.
What do you need before shipping?
Products: Obviously you’ll need to have your products before sending them into an Amazon warehouse. You should gather them prior to shipping to make labeling and prepping easier. Amazon will require you to input the number of products you have, if they’re in cases, etc.
UPC Code: For many sellers that do retail arbitrage and online arbitrage, this is an important note. If you’re gathering products from unorthodox places like garages sales, estate sales, etc., make sure each product you purchase has a UPC code. Even if the product is in perfect and new condition, Amazon will not accept it if it does not have a UPC code. Make sure all of your products have them before sending it to Amazon.
Courier: Amazon works with all of the major couriers and shipping companies. This is not a huge deal for most sellers because they use major companies like FedEx, USPS and UPS. This is important for sellers that may use small couriers and shipping companies. They may not be approved to ship to Amazon, so it’s better to stick with the major companies.
Shipping supplies: There’s nothing more frustrating than starting to try to ship a product and noticing you’re missing supplies. Without proper supplies, you can’t even do half of the requirements needed for shipping. Although you can get creative and use other people’s resources, you will need your own shipping supplies to have any success on Amazon. Some of the shipping supplies you need include:
Scale: When shipping, you will need to tell Amazon the weight of your product in addition to you boxes. Although some people may try to use a general scale that people weigh themselves on, you will need a much more accurate scale for your products. Without weighing correctly, you may have to pay extra chargers with a shipping provider and Amazon. Scales are relatively cheap and you can find them on Amazon for $10-15. This will ensure you’ll have accurate weights for your products and boxes.
Tape: You’ll need clear tape to tape your boxes and tape your labels on your boxes. Most people have some kind of tape at home, but you should use clear tape to make sure your barcodes are readable. Tape is super cheap and you can get it for a few dollars off of Amazon or a retailer near you.
Printer: You will need a thermal printer for your labels and a normal printer for your box labels. The labels printed from a thermal printer are small and adhesive and they need their own separate papers. There are different brands of thermal printers and the prices range, but they can be upwards of $100. In addition to the thermal printer, you need your regular printer to print out labels for the boxes.
Boxes: You’ll need boxes to ship your products into Amazon. You can buy these boxes from a local retailer or use the boxes you have laying around in your home. If you plan on shipping any sizable amount of products, you’ll likely need to purchase boxes. They’re relatively cheap and you can get a lot of boxes for $10 or $20.
Once you have your products, it’s time to list them on Amazon. Amazon requires you to have a listing prior to doing any shipping related work. You can do this by logging into Amazon Seller Central. Once you have signed in, go the inventory menu and select Add A Product. If you are listing an existing product on Amazon, you can search and add the new product under “List a new product”.
Once you search for the item, any matching products will show and you can select on the sell button on the right hand side of the listing. The listing will show the category and subcategory that the product belongs to and you’ll go to a new page asking for details on the product.
At this step, Amazon will ask you to input the price, quantity and other relevant information. Once you do this, you have a listing that Amazon recognizes. This will allow you to choose from products you have in your inventory when creating a shipping plan.
Create shipping plan
Now that you have an active FBA listing, it’s time to create your shipping plan. Go to manage inventory on seller central and you should be able to see the product that you’ve listed. On the product, go all the way to the right side until you see a button called “edit”.
Once you click on edit, a drop down menu shows up and you should select “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon”. Once you click on this, a new page will show up that will help you convert your listing to FBA. The new screen will ask you how you are going to label your products and what type of barcode you will place on them.
Selecting the barcode type:
For the barcode type, you will have two options: manufacturer barcode and Amazon barcode. Some products may not have this selection and you may have to choose the Amazon barcode. It’s preferred you select the Amazon barcode because Amazon will take care of that once your product arrives at their warehouse. Once you have selected the Amazon barcode, click convert and send inventory.
A new screen should show up now labeled “required product information”. This screen is for Amazon to figure out if you have specific items like batteries in your product, if there’s any hazardous items, dangerous goods, etc. The majority of items sellers sell don’t fall in this category, you can select no for each of the questions asked. Make sure to read them if you sell a lot of products because you’re bound to sell an item with batteries in the future. After you’ve answered those questions, press submit and then you should go to a new screen showing you completed the questions. Press save and continue.
Now you should see a new page titled “send/replenish inventory”. One the upper left hand side, you should see a shipping plan with two options: “create a new shipping plan” and “add to an existing shipping plan”. Make sure you select “create a new shipping plan”. If you hover over to the right side, you should see “ship from”. This is your shipping information, make sure it’s correct; if it’s not, you can select “ship from another address”. Lastly, on the right side, you should see “Packing type” with individual products and case-packed products.
Choose “individual products” if your products in your box have different UPC codes, SKUs, etc. If your products have identical SKUs, UPC codes, etc. (meaning they are the same product), select case-packed product. Basically this means if you’re sending it different products in one box (for example a mouse and a keyboard), select “individual products”. If you are sending multiple items that are exactly the same (for example, 3 blue Logitech mouses), you should select “case-packed product”. The majority of sellers will choose “individual products” because they will be sending in a lot of different items.
Once you select individual products or case-packed products, you’ll have a new page asking you how many units you are planning on sending in. Enter the amount of units you want to send in (for example 5) and you’ll be directed to a new page to prepare your products.
On the new page, you should see both prep guidance and a drop down window asking “Who preps”. Under prep guidance, click select category. A drop down menu should show up with several categories like baby products, sharp, fragile/glass, etc. If your product fits any of these categories, select the appropriate category. Most products don’t fall into these categories, so select “no prep needed” and click choose.
Next, is the “who preps” section. There are two options: prep by Amazon or prep by merchant (you). If you choose prep by Amazon, Amazon will take care of the prepping for your products at a small charge. The charges are generally a few cents to a dollar and sometimes that’s a better option for small or special types of products. The other option is prep by merchant, this is the preferred option because it’ll allow you to save money. Once you click prep by merchant, a button below labeled “print labels for this page” will become available.
On the left hand side of the “print labels for this page” button, there will be a drop down of options for the dimensions of the labels you’d like to print. You should select “30-up labels “1”x”2-⅝ “ on US letter”, this is the standard dimension that most U.S. sellers use. If you don’t have any labels with you, you need to go to your local retailer like a Walmart to purchase the labels. A commonly used label is the self-adhesive address labels pictured below. Also if you don’t have a label printer, you should purchase one or you won’t be able to follow the next steps.
Assuming you have the labels and printer connected to your computer, you can now print out the labels for your Amazon products. Once the labels are printed from your thermal printer, you can stick each of the labels on the products. Each label has a barcode and the name of your product in addition to the condition of your product (new, used, etc).
After you have printed your labels, click continue on the page you were on (“label products”) in Amazon seller central. You will be guided to the next page labeled “review shipments”. This page will show you which fulfillment centers your products are headed to. There will likely be several cities on that page if you’re sending in multiple products. Click approve and continue on the bottom right-hand side.
You should see a new page titled “view shipments” and you should see buttons on the right side of your shipments saying “work on shipments”. Click on the work on shipments button and you will be directed to a new page where you will review each shipment being sent. You should see two options for your shipping methods: small-parcel delivery and less than truckload (ltl). Select small-parcel delivery and Amazon will ask you for your shipping carrier. Click the Amazon-partnered carrier and it’s generally a big shipping company like USPS or FedEx. If you select another carrier that is not Amazon-partnered, you won’t receive a discount, so just stick with the Amazon recommended one.
Scroll down and you should see a shipment packaging section. You will see a question asking “how will this shipment be packed”. Select the option for “everything in one box” if all of your products can fit into one box. If not, select the multiple boxes option. Once you select either option, Amazon will ask you the box weight and dimensions of your box. The box weight is the weight of the products and the box. Make sure to weigh it out and put in the weight. Next, put the dimensions of the product in height, width and length.
Once you put that information, Amazon helps you calculate the shipping cost. You will receive the final cost of the shipping once you’ve put in all the information asked by Amazon. Click the box agreeing to the terms and conditions and click accept charges.
Now you can move onto the final step: shipping labels. Amazon requires two types of labels. One is the carrier label for the Amazon-partnered carrier (ex. UPS), the other one is Amazon FBA’s box ID label. The Amazon label allows your product to be identified and stored quickly upon arrival to Amazon’s warehouses. Click print box labels and a PDF window should appear with your two labels. Print the PDF file with your two labels and Amazon will provide you tracking numbers for those shipments. You’re done now with the shipping work on Amazon’s side.
You can put your products into your box. Separate the two labels (carrier label and Amazon label) and tape them onto your box. It’s important to not cover the barcodes with tape or anything. If your barcodes can’t be read by the carrier or Amazon, you can run into many issues.
Now you should have your labeled products in your labeled boxes. You can take your products to the Amazon-partnered carrier you chose and they’ll handle the rest. Go back into your Amazon seller central and you should see that your shipment says it’s shipped. You can track your shipment and Amazon will send you an email once it has reached its fulfillment centers.
Common mistakes sellers make when shipping to Amazon FBA
Mislabeling products: When you are sending products in to Amazon, you have to options for labeling: labeling done by you the merchant or labeling done by Amazon. Most sellers decide to label their own products because Amazon charges a fee for labeling products. After printing out each label, you need to make sure that each label goes on the right corresponding product. Many issues can arise from mislabeling product. Ensure you double-check the right label is on the right product prior to shipping your boxes.
Improper packaging: Some products require additional packaging to prevent damage during shipping. When you’re creating your shipping plan, Amazon will let you know which kinds of products may need additional packaging. Products that fall into this category include products with loose parts, products that are fragile and more. This will likely end up in the seller losing money because the product will be returned by the customer for being damaged.
Even worse, customers may leave a negative review after getting the product and that’s worse than losing a few dollars. Sellers can avoid improper packaging by selecting the right size boxes, not leaving a lot of room in the boxes and using additional packaging materials like plastic wrap and bubble wrap.
Sending restricted items to FBA: This is huge for new sellers because many of them are not aware that there are certain products Amazon does not fulfill via FBA. Amazon does not fulfill certain products because there is a health and safety concern when shipped to Amazon’s warehouses. The Department of Transportation regulates what goods can be and cannot be processed by FBA. These products are not safe in Amazon’s warehouses because they can melt, corrode and impact other products and Amazon personnel.
Sending in these kinds of products can results in product removal from Amazon, listings being taken down by Amazon, fines and potential account deactivation. Amazon takes this seriously, so it’s important to avoid these products. The full list is linked here.
Slow selling inventory: This is not like a technical mistake like mislabeling a product or sending a wrong item in, but it can be more costly. You need to make sure the products you are sending in to Amazon are making sales. If you have products sit in Amazon for months, you are likely to lose money due to storage fees and other FBA fees if your product sells. Even if you select a good selling product, sending in a ton of that specific product can slow down your growth. Test each product out with a few orders and then double down if it’s working great.
Why I don’t recommend FBM for new sellers
This is my personal opinion, it’s not a fact. Many sellers have started their Amazon business using FBM and scaled successfully. My concern is that new sellers often are prone to make mistakes and making mistakes with FBM can impact your overall Amazon account health. Amazon requires you meet certain criteria if you are shipping directly to customers.
This includes meeting late shipment rates, cancellation rates and other metrics. All of these require less than 4% error to keep your Amazon account in good standing. If you sell your first ten or twenty products merchant fulfilled and you make a few of these errors, you’re quickly going to get your Amazon account deactivated.
I know this experience because it happened to me. When I first started off selling on Amazon, I got a few sales using FBA. I was thinking if I use FBM, I can basically list the good items I find on Walmart and Target and ship them once someone makes an Amazon order. I was a brand new seller then and I listed 10 quantities of a toy that made good profit from Walmart.
I listed that toy at night. When I woke up, I had hundreds of dollars in sales. Obviously I was ecstatic, but when I went to go check Walmart, the product was not in stock. I checked virtually every store, contacted the original brand and everything. Nothing worked. The toy would not be manufactured for another few months.
What did that mean? I had to cancel all the orders and refund every single Amazon customer. Amazon immediately shut down my account and I didn’t get it back for almost a year. If you can learn anything from this, it’s that your account health is the most important thing in your business. Even if you have to lose money on a few orders, don’t ever jeopardize your account. It’s extremely hard to get it back.
This covers all of the basic information regarding shipping to Amazon FBA, for more information and guidance, check out this video for a complete step by step tutorial.