For sellers using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), ensuring compliance with Amazon’s prepping and packaging requirements is very crucial. The FBA sellers' prep and package of inventory directly impacts how Amazon receives and processes it. Failure to follow Amazon FBA’s prep and packaging requirements may result in Amazon refusing or returning your inventory. Furthermore, non-compliance can lead to additional fees, and, in severe cases, sellers can lose the ability to ship to Amazon fulfillment centers.
In this blog, we explain all you need to know about FBA prep and packaging requirements to equip Amazon sellers with the knowledge needed to meet these guidelines and avoid violating Amazon's Terms of Service.
Send to Amazon Process
The process of sending inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers is broadly classified into the following:
Creating new products vs replenishing existing Products
There are two ways to create a shipment to Amazon FBA. The first one is ‘Send to Amazon’. This is for new products or products that are not currently in stock at Amazon's fulfillment centers. The second is ‘Send/replenish inventory’, this is for seller products that are already in stock at Amazon's fulfillment centers but need to be replenished.
Creating a shipping plan
Next, use the Amazon Seller Central platform to create a shipping plan, specifying details like pick-up location, individual or case-packed items, how many boxes, how many units per box, the dimensions of the boxes, and the package weight, etc.
Prep your FBA inventory for shipping based on Amazon's guidelines, such as polybagging or bubble-wrapping, to ensure they arrive at the order fulfillment center in the desired condition.
Sellers package items according to Amazon's FBA packaging requirements, including box size, weight limits, and proper warehouse labeling. Here, compliance is crucial to prevent inventory rejection.
Each unit must be labeled with a scannable barcode, FNSKU number, item name, and condition. Sellers must follow labeling guidelines stated by Amazon to avoid any fines in the form of added fees.
In the final stage of shipping products to Amazon fulfillment centers, sellers can choose either an Amazon-partnered carrier or a non-partner carrier. When opting for a non-partner carrier, you must submit the tracking code of the shipment.
Factors determining the Amazon prep and pack process
Several factors influence the prep and pack process for Amazon FBA shipments. These factors can be broadly categorized into three main areas:
- Product size: The size of the product directly impacts the packaging requirements. Smaller products may be individually packed, while larger products may require case-packed shipping.
- Product weight: Heavier products may require more robust packaging to prevent damage during ecommerce shipping process. The weight also affects the shipping method, with smaller and lighter products typically shipped as small parcel delivery and larger and heavier products shipped as LTL or FTL.
- Fragility: Fragile products require special handling and packaging in warehouse to prevent damage. This may include using bubble wrap or other protective materials.
Case Packed vs Individual Packed
Case-packed shipping is more efficient for large quantities of identical products. This is because it reduces the need for individual labeling and handling.
However, individual packing is the right option if you are sending out products of different categories and types.
Small Parcel vs LTL/FTL Shipment
Small Parcel Shipments are typically less than 150 pounds and fit within Amazon's standard box dimensions. LTL and FTL shipments are larger and heavier, requiring pallet packaging and specialized transportation.
Another factor is cost, where small parcel shipments are generally more cost-effective for smaller shipments, while LTL and FTL are more economical for larger shipments.
Amazon partner carrier vs non-partner carrier
The final step in sending your product to FBA is choosing between Amazon-partnered carriers and non-partner carriers. FBA-partnered carriers offer potential cost savings through discounted rates and integration benefits within the Amazon system. Sellers must update the shipment tracking ID in Seller Central if they choose non-partner carriers.
Product Prepping for Amazon FBA
In Amazon FBA, meticulous product prepping is essential. This process involves ensuring that each unit adheres to Amazon's specific packaging and labeling requirements.
What is the prepping process?
The prepping process for Amazon FBA entails getting products ready for storage and shipment within Amazon's fulfillment network. By having an efficient prepping process in place, you can ensure that items are adequately protected, labeled, and compliant with Amazon's guidelines to facilitate smooth and efficient processing.
Prepping for different types of products
The Amazon FBA prep varies for different product types, and if the packaging does not comply with the requirements, they are either sent back to the seller or repacked by Amazon, and a fee is levied for each item.
Sharp and pointed
Sharp and pointed items like scissors, tools, and metal raw materials must be wrapped in bubble wrap or placed inside a box to cover all exposed edges and the barcode applied.
Fragile or glass objects
Fragile or glass objects such as frames, clocks, mirrors, and liquids in glass bottles or jars must be wrapped in bubble wrap or placed inside a box. Also, the prepped item must withstand a 3-foot drop onto a hard surface without breaking. The barcode applied must be scannable without opening or unwrapping the packaged item.
Liquids (not in glass)
For liquids in plastic bottles holding more than 16 oz without a double seal, either apply a second seal or place the container in a transparent bag with a suffocation warning and seal the bag to prevent leakage. The barcode must be scannable without opening or unwrapping the packaged item.
Apparel, fabric, plush, and textile
Place the item in a transparent bag with a suffocation warning and seal the bag. Ensure the barcode is scannable without opening or unwrapping the bag.
Sold as set
Products that are sold as set, for example, a package containing six tubes of toothbrush sold as one unit, must bear clear markings on their packaging indicating that they are sets. Attach a label to each unit explicitly stating that the products are intended to be received and sold as a single unit. Examples of suitable labels include "Sold as set," "Ready to ship," or "This is a set. Do not separate."
Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit (FNSKU) Labels
Another critical prepping step in FBA is sticking FNSKU labels. These are unique identifiers that link products to the Amazon seller account. FNSKU labels are crucial for accurate inventory management and order processing within the Amazon fulfillment system. This unique label can help differentiate your product from other sellers’ products.
The FNSKU labels must be affixed to a flat surface of each individual unit, ensuring they are scannable and easily accessible for efficient tracking. Amazon FBA states that sellers must use FNSKU labels that are at least 1 inch by 2 inches for optimal visibility and scanning accuracy.
FBA packaging requirements for Small Parcel Delivery (SPD)
Amazon accepts two types of deliveries based on the size of a shipment: Small Parcel Delivery (SPD) and Less Than Truckload/Full Truck Load (LTL/FTL). In SPD, individual boxes/packages of products (case packed or individual packed) are sent to the Amazon warehouse. SPD has a limit of 200 items when using a partner carrier. It is a popular choice among sellers because the prepping, packing, and labeling processes are much simpler in this method.
Individual packed vs case-packed
While setting up a shipment in the Amazon Seller Central account, sellers will be asked for the packing type they will be using – case-packed or individual products. So, in case-packed products, the shipment boxes must contain identical items with the same SKUs and in the same condition. Whereas, if the products in the box are different from each other or have different SKU numbers, they fall under individual packed.
While creating a shipment plan for case-packed products, sellers need to specify the number of cases of each SKU they will send. Amazon will then generate a shipment ID label for you to attach to each box.
For individually packed products, sellers will specify the number of items of each SKU they send. Amazon will then generate an FNSKU label for each item. You must attach the FNSKU label to each item before you ship it to Amazon.
Weight, dimension, and other requirements
Boxes containing multiple standard-size items must not exceed 25" on any side. Also, boxes containing multiple items must weigh less than or equal to 50 lbs. (boxes containing a single item may exceed 50 lbs.) Additionally, boxes containing a single oversized item weighing more than 50 lbs must have “Team Lift” safety labels on the top and sides of the box.
Boxes containing a single oversized item that weighs more than 100 lbs. have “Mechanical Lift” safety labels on the top and sides of the box.
Sellers can use approved dunnage, including foam, air pillows, bubble wrap, or full sheets of paper as protective material within the boxes.
FBA packaging requirements LTL and Full Truck Load (FTL)
Less Than Truckload/Full Truckload (LTL/FTL) shipment combines individual boxes on pallets for delivery. The pallets that are sent to Amazon FBA must adhere to the requirements to avoid a return of inventory. The most important requirement is the type of pallet you use. Amazon requires pallet material to be wooden and will reject plastic pallets and must be GMA standard Grade B or higher.
Here are the pallet weight and dimension requirements:
- Amazon FBA standard pallet width: 40 inches by 48 inches (100cm x 120cm)
- Amazon FBA pallet height limit: not more than 72 inches or 182.5 cm for a single pallet (together with the pallet itself). And for double-stacked pallets, the maximum height is 100 inches or 254cm.
- Amazon FBA pallet weight limit: 1,500 Ibs or 680.4kg
While palletizing, ensure the pallets are stackable and must have a uniform flat top. Place the heaviest boxes on the bottom of the pallet first and create a more stable base. This will also ensure the lighter products from getting crushed.
Once you are done staking up the boxes, seal the pallet with transparent wrapping material – this will allow Amazon to scan the barcodes easily. Also, to prevent the boxes from sliding, wrap pallets multiple times. It becomes crucial when you are using the PIPO method.
FBA labeling requirements
Labeling is one of the crucial steps while sending your FBA product to Amazon fulfillment centers. Before we delve into the labeling process, here’s a list of definitions sellers must be familiar with:
Box label: It is a label that is attached to the outside of boxes that are shipped to Amazon's fulfillment centers. The label contains information on SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), FNSKU (Fulfillment Network SKU), quantity, box number, shipment ID, etc.
Pallet label: In Amazon FBA, a pallet label is affixed to the exterior of a pallet and contains crucial shipment details such as the shipment ID, Amazon-assigned pallet ID, destination fulfillment center, handling instructions, and barcodes for automated tracking.
Shipping label: It is the label that sellers affix to the outside of each package that they ship to Amazon's fulfillment network. It contains information such as the Seller name, "Ship to" address (the fulfillment center address that Fulfillment by Amazon provided to you), and "Ship from" address.
Labeling for small parcel shipments
Small parcels have two labels per box: one FBA box ID label and one shipping (automatically generated if you choose the Amazon-partnered carrier). Place small parcel labels on the side no less than 1⁄4" from the edge of the box. Ensure you do not place small parcel labels over seams, edges, or corners.
The ideal label size for small parcel shipments in Amazon FBA is 4 inches x 6 inches (10.2 cm x 15.2 cm). However, Amazon allows for slightly larger or smaller labels within a reasonable range. Amazon also recommends using thermal or laser printers, and sellers must avoid inkjets, as they are more susceptible to smearing or fading.
Labeling for LTL/FTL shipments
In the LTL/FTL, when you are sending pallets, each pallet must have four labels, with one placed in the top center of each side of the pallet. You can generate the pallet ID and shipping labels in Amazon Seller Central.
Here are some of the key takeaways from this blog that can help sellers be on top of their Amazon FBA prep and packaging game:
- Adherence to Amazon's FBA prepping and packaging requirements is essential to avoid refusal, returns, and additional fees
- Create a detailed shipping plan on Amazon Seller Central
- Prep and package products based on Amazon's FBA guidelines
- Label each unit with a scannable barcode, FNSKU number, item name, and condition
- Be mindful of the different prepping requirements for various product types.
- In Amazon Seller Central, choose between case-packed or individual-packed shipments based on how you are sending your SKUs
- Follow Amazon FBA-specific labeling requirements for small parcels and LTL/FTL shipments