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.
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.
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.
You can primarily use three items for the packaging of your FBA products i.e. boxes, poly bags, and bubble wraps.
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.
Amazon approves these four types of boxes for FBA sellers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every item to be fulfilled by Amazon can be packaged and prepared in a box as long as it complies with these requirements.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
No, Amazon doesn’t do custom packaging. You can customize the packaging of your products before sending them to the fulfillment center.
You need to use labels sized between 1x2” and 2x3” printed in black and white on non-reflective sheets/papers.
You can buy all the needed Amazon packaging supplies (boxes, poly bags, stretch wrap, and bubble wraps, etc) directly from Amazon.
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.
Before we round off this guide, let’s go through a final FBA packaging checklist.
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.
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