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Amazon FBA is a great avenue for entrepreneurs to kick-start their journey. Notwithstanding the ease and convenience that comes with FBA, you still need to pack and ship your products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers. If you fail to comply with the packaging and prep requirements designated for FBA shipments, you’ll have to pay an unexpected FBA prep service fee per item.

If you don’t want to incur another overhead and want to take care of FBA packaging and Shipping requirements on your own, you have come to the right place.

We give a detailed rundown of all the updated FBA prep requirements you’d need to know.

Amazon FBA Product Barcode/Labels Requirements

Before we get into discussing the types of packaging and materials, it is important to set out the barcode requirements for the FBA products. Amazon banks on barcodes to identify and track inventory right through the fulfillment process. 

Therefore, every product you will send to the fulfillment center must have a barcode. Amazon uses these three barcodes to identify and track inventory.

  • Manufacturer-affixed barcodes (ISBN, UPC, JAN, EAN)
  • Amazon-affixed barcode (e.g. FNSKU)
  • Transparency authenticity code for brand-owned products to prevent counterfeiting

If your products don’t have a manufacturer barcode, you need to get the one assigned by Amazon. A fulfillment center can’t process any package if it doesn’t contain either of these barcodes.

Types of FBA Packaging

You can primarily use three items for the packaging of your FBA products i.e. boxes, poly bags, and bubble wraps.

Boxes

As an FBA seller, boxes should be your go-to packaging item for most products. Boxed products are easier to process and store. Therefore, they are less likely to get misplaced or lost during the lengthy fulfillment process. Even if you pack your products in poly bags, you have to send them in a box to the fulfillment center.

What Types of Boxes Can You Use for FBA?

Amazon approves these four types of boxes for FBA sellers.

  • Regular Slotted Carton (RSC): It is a standard carton made from pre-creased and pre-cut corrugated sheets. This type of carton has two openings with four flaps of similar width on each opening. You can use RSC for almost all sorts of product packaging and shipping.
  • 200 Burst Strength Box: It is a corrugated box that passes the Mullen burst strength test for the applied pressure of 200 lb/sq.inch. The box can hold a maximum load of 65 lbs. 
  • B Flute: Flutes are wave-shaped structures used in between two corrugated cardboards. The flutes provide strength, protection, and cushioning to the cardboards used in a carton. You can classify cartons based on the length and density of flutes used in their corrugated cardboards i.e. A-flute, B-flute, C-flute, D-flute, E-flute, and F-flute. B flute boxes have shorter flutes and wall/side thickness of 1/8”. They are great for supporting heavier items. B flutes also provide a flat and rigid surface for printing purposes.
  • ECT-32 Box: It is a box made of corrugated cardboard and has passed the Edge Crush Test (ECT) with a 32 rating. 

Amazon FBA Box Size Limit 2021 

A regular box prepared for FBA shipping carrying standard items should have its longest side under 18 inches, median side under 14 inches, and the smallest side under 8 inches. If a side of the product does exceed the corresponding sides of the box, you can use a large box accordingly. However, the box will now be categorized as oversize.  

Pro tip: Try not to use excessively large boxes and cartons for oversized products. You may face a refusal at a fulfillment center for those boxes, or worse, get your future shipments blocked. Also, try to remain well below the dimensions mentioned above when matching a product with the FBA box. A good rule of thumb is to have a half an inch difference between the product dimensions and the corresponding box dimensions.

What Should Be the Loaded Weight of Boxes Used for FBA?

The standard weight limit for boxes and cartons used for FBA is 50 lbs as long as they don’t contain a single item that weighs more than 50 lbs. However, this standard doesn’t apply to watches and jewelry. Boxes containing those two types of items should not exceed 40 lbs. For items weighing more than 50 lbs, you need to attach the label that says “Team Lift” on all sides of the box. For items heavier than 100 lb, you need to use the label “Mechanical Lift” on all sides of the box.

Poly Bags

You can use poly bags for all those products that don’t have a rigid geometric shape e.g. a bundle of wires, pair of shoes, or a backpack. You need to take care of these requirements while using poly bags for your FBA shipment. 

  • The bag’s sides must be at least 1.5 millimeters thick each.
  • The bag must be transparent and have an X00-label manufacturer or Amazon barcode, which is scannable through the bag.
  • The bag must be completely sealed and should not protrude/extend past the dimensions of the given product
  • Polybags with 5-inch or large openings must have a suffocation warning printed or labeled on a prominent location and in a large-size font.  

Bubble Wraps 

Bubble wrap is another packaging heavily used for FBA shipments. However, it is not a standalone packaging item like boxes or poly bags. You will always have to pack a bubble-wrapped product in a poly bag or box. 

Amazon recommends bubble wrap packaging for items that are fragile and prone to damages during the fulfillment process or the products that are too heavy and might damage the other products during transportation. While using bubble wraps to pack your products, take care of the following requirements.

  • Tightly enfold the bubble wrap around the product and tape shut it.
  • Label the wrap with a scannable barcode on the outside.
  • Evaluate the bubble-wrapped package for a 3-foot drop test. This test consists of five drops: drop flat on the base, top, longest side, shortest side, and on a corner. If the product and its content don’t break during those five drops, you’ve done a good job with your bubble wrap packaging.

FBA Packaging Requirements by the Nature of the Product

Amazon hasn’t standardized a single packaging type across the inventory spectrum. The platform has carved various product categories based on their packaging and shipping requirements via FBA. Here, we’ll explore all of them one by one.

FBA Packaging and Shipping Requirements for “Sold as Set” Items 

Every product with a mix of similar units (a set of books, a set of toys, etc) has to be packaged as a “Sold as Set” item. You need to take care of these things while preparing them for FBA.

  • Securely package the set by shrink-wrapping or packing it in a poly bag.
  • Affix it with a label that says “Do Not Separate”, “Read to Ship” or anything to that effect.
  • Give a new/unique ASIN to the entire set (individual ASINs notwithstanding).
  • Hide the barcodes on individual units of the set so that they remain unscannable and the fulfillment center only scans the package as a set.

FBA Packaging and Shipping Requirements for Loose Products

Loose products are the ones that may have removable or detached components and are not packed in a secured packaging. All such loose items must fulfill these packaging and shipment requirements to pass through a fulfillment center.

  • You should pack it in a pouch or loose sleeve, particularly if it has multiple assembling/detachable parts.
  • If not packed in a pouch or lose sleeve, they must be tied together with a removable tape or non-adhesive band. However, you can’t pack footwear like that irrespective of its material. They must always be secured in packaging where their material is not exposed. 

FBA Packaging and Shipping Requirements for Boxed Products

Every item to be fulfilled by Amazon can be packaged and prepared in a box as long as it complies with these requirements.

  • It is a six-sided cube or rectangular box.
  • The opening lid of the box should be secured with glue or tape so that it doesn’t easily open.
  • The box should withstand medium pressure i.e. it doesn’t collapse by a regular thud or desk/counter/chair fall.
  • Uses 2 inches of cushioning between each item packaged inside the box. You can use inflatable air pillows or polyethylene foam sheeting for that purpose.
  • If the box has a perforation or side openings, it should be passed through a drop test. The test consists of 7 drops (one from on each side and a corner) from three feet above the ground.

When You Need to Do Over-Boxing of FBA Parcels?

In some cases, you may have to use a second box for a product that’s already boxed. Sellers usually have to do this to rule out potential handling and shipping damages. You need to over-box a product if:

  • It has failed a 3-foot drop test even when packaged in a bubble wrap.
  • It is a vinyl record.
  • It is a sharp object that can puncture packaging.
  • It is a hazardous fluid (more than 4.2 oz) in a glass container.

FBA Packaging and Shipping Requirements for Case-Packed Products

Amazon defines “case-packed” products as those where a box contains multiple similar items (with a similar SKU) and the same number of items in each box. For instance, a pack of 12 red-color stuffed teddies in a single box will be treated as a single case-packed product. 

Also, the fulfillment center only scans one of the units from the box and moves the box to the inventory since all its units are the same. You need to meet these requirements when preparing case-packed products for the fulfillment center.

  • Make sure every box has the same number of units with a similar SKU.
  • A box must not contain more than 150 units. 
  • You can’t pack together more than one case-packed box in a larger box. If your supplier sends such products in a single large packaging, separate them at the given case-pack level.

FBA Packaging and Shipping Requirements for Apparel

For the most part, you can follow the general prep and shipping requirements for apparel e.g. you can pack them in poly bags and box them in cartons. However, Amazon doesn’t allow FBA shipping of apparel along with hangers except for the following clothing items.

  • Suit jackets, suits, and blazers
  • Dresses with a list price of more than $299.99
  • Baby clothes that use mini hangers 

FBA Packaging and Shipping Requirements for Products with Expiration Dates

You need to take care of these packaging and shipping requirements if your FBA operations involve products with expiration dates (e.g. packaged food and beverages).

  • Always put the expiration date label in either this MM-DD-YYYY or that MM-YYYY format.
  • The outer box containing the product must have the date label in at least 36-point font.
  • Every individual unit in the outer box must also contain the expiration date label.
  • If the product contains additional packing (bubble wrap/poly-bagging), also apply the expiration date labels on them.

Amazon FBA Pallet Requirements of Packaging and Shipping

If your FBA shipments are large and you’re using Less Than Truckload (LTL) or Full Truckload (FTL) freight options to deliver them, you should organize all your shipment cartons and boxes on pallets.

  • Use a 40x48 inches wooden pallet with 4-way access. You can use a larger pallet for products with dimensions greater than 40x48 inches. Amazon recommends sellers to use GMA Standard B Grade pallets.
  • All boxes on a pallet carrying a single ASIN must be uniformly stacked facing the same direction.
  • Pallets should not be ideally more than 72 inches in height (including the stacked boxes).
  • They must be stretch wrapped as well.
  • Use GMA 1A grade pallets for food and grocery products. 
  • Place FBA pallet FBA labels on all four sides of the pallet.

Amazon Prep Requirements for FBM

What Amazon has told and recommended for the preparation of FBA shipments is equally good for shipments that sellers fulfill themselves. Therefore, even if you are fulfilling your order on your own, you should take cues from the Amazon FBA packaging and shipping guidelines.

Amazon FBA Prep Requirements— FAQs

Do FBA shipments have to be in a Box?

No, it is not an obligation to use boxes for all FBA shipments. However, it is highly recommended to pack your individually packaged products in a box. It will ensure the needed protection in transit and hassle-free processing at fulfillment centers.

Does Amazon FBA Do Custom Packaging?

No, Amazon doesn’t do custom packaging. You can customize the packaging of your products before sending them to the fulfillment center.

What Size Labels Do I Need for Amazon FBA?

You need to use labels sized between 1x2” and 2x3” printed in black and white on non-reflective sheets/papers.

Where to Buy Amazon Packaging Supplies?

You can buy all the needed Amazon packaging supplies (boxes, poly bags, stretch wrap, and bubble wraps, etc) directly from Amazon.

Items You Can’t Use for FBA Packaging 

While we’ve discussed what packaging items you can use for FBA prep, it is also important to outline all the items and materials that Amazon asks sellers to not use.

  • Styrofoam 
  • Crinkle wrap 
  • Thermocol chips 
  • Foam strips 
  • Shredded paper
  • Any type of packing peanuts

A Final FBA Packaging Checklist

Before we round off this guide, let’s go through a final FBA packaging checklist.

  • Use suitable packaging material (polyethylene foam sheeting, inflatable air pillows, bubble wrap, full sheets of paper) and tape for packing. 
  • Use a sturdy rectangular or cubic box. 
  • Put a single address label on the box that contains complete delivery and return information.
  • Put a unique FBA box ID label on every box of your shipment. You can print it from your Shipping Queue.
  • Use 2 inches of cushioning between every item and along the sides of the box.
  • Shake the packed box and ensure the content inside doesn’t move.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of every last bit of Amazon FBA prep requirement is not just vital to save you a prep fee. It also ensures that fulfillment centers don’t return your packages. Also, packaging done without due diligence increases the risk of product damage during its transit to customers. This will not just earn you a bad customer rating but can also strain your relationship with Amazon.  

Are you starting out as an FBA seller and want to grasp all the finicky details of the business? Enroll in one of ZonGuru’s weekly training sessions, where you can learn from the best of the best in the business. Even if you can’t attend live sessions, you can replay them anytime you want. Also, you get a one-week free trial of the entire ZonGuru toolkit with this free weekly live training.

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