Following Amazon rules is extremely important. Shipping FBA inventory the correct way can translate to big savings and ultimately add to your bottom line. Amazon rules and guidelines are clearly spelled out on the website. There is also a help center. There is a possibility that if you do not follow the rules exactly, Amazon employees can dispose of your inventory, resulting in thousands of dollars or more lost. Here are some of the most common rules.
* Intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. Fees may be changed by Amazon at any time.
Shipping FBA Inventory & Prepping Individual Units
- Labeling – label products according to Amazon’s guidelines
- Drop Testing – Must do this to test before shipping products. Drop from 3 feet off the ground at multiple angles. Do not skip this step.
- Liquid Double Seal – Must have 2 seals on all liquid products. If you don’t have a double seal, you must wrap the product in a sealed poly bag
- Suffocation Warning Labels – If there is a bag on the product that has a 4 inch opening, you must label the bag with a suffocation warning. It can be as easy as purchasing stickers and putting them directly on the bag.
- Expiration Dates – Have to be on the outside of the product so Amazon warehouse associates can see it
- Sold As A Set Sticker – Make sure Amazon employees do not break up sets by accident by labeling correctly with stickers
- Irregular Box Shapes – Shipping FBA inventory in odd shaped boxes may incur extra costs or shipping and storing complications for irregular shaped boxes, FBA fees increase based on the size of the box. Even if your product is the correct size, Amazon goes by the box size. Even ¼” difference could result in a few dollars extra per unit sold, taking away from your bottom line.
- Expiration Dates – Need to be clearly labeled for food products
Shipping Carton Requirements
- LTL – Less than truckload (11 or less pallets)
- FTL - Full truckload (12 or more pallets)
- Less than 50 pounds per box
- Individual Items 50-150 pounds = team lift label
- Individual items more than 100 pounds = Mechanical Lift Label (LTL)
- Dunnage (Void Fill) – Fill in the extra space in the box so items do not shift around during shipping. Your account can get shut down or incur fees for multiple violations of dunnage. We recommend the ULine company for Dunnage for a good wholesale price if you’re buying in bulk. If you are running a smaller operation, Home Depot and Loews also has dunnage and Amazon actually sells dunnage as well at a competitive price.
- Bubble wrap
- Full sheets of paper (heavy-weight kraft paper)
- Inflatable air pillows
- Polyethylene foam sheeting
- Packing peanuts
- Foam strips
- Crinkle wrap
- Shredded paper
Small Parcel Delivery (SPD) Shipments
- Partnered Carrier Discounts (UPS) - 60%-70% off standard UPS rates
- Less than 25” On Any One Side
- Provide Box Level Contents – fee is 15 cents per unit
- FBA Shipment Labels – 2 up label sheet (1 UPS label & 1 FBA label per sheet). Make sure to put both labels onto the box.
- UPS provided labels (free)
- Do not place labels over corners or seams - Amazon employees need to easily scan the box then open the box and still have it scannable. Do not have to be on the same side of the box.
- Print on laser printer or thermal label printer (No Ink Jet Printed Labels)
- Pouches for inclimate weather - protects labels and free at UPS or simply fully tape the label with clear packing tape without air bubbles
- UPS drop off – Setting up through Amazon UPS account so you must drop it off
- If product is too small for the label, you have to package in a box large enough for the labels
LTL/FTL Requirements for Shipping FBA Inventory
- Minimum of 150 pounds and each pallet needs to be 150 pounds
- Pallet Requirements – Maximum 1, 500 pounds, 48” tall for stacking pallets. Single pallet can be 72” in height.
- 40”x48” 4 way wooden pallet – no specialty pallets
- Wood material preferred and pallet must be in good shape. No cardboard, particle board, or other weak materials.
- GMA Standard Grade B or greater
- 1-11 Pallets = LTL, 12-26 Pallets = FTL – Will be able to get shipments in faster with FTL shipments
- Amazon partnered LTL/FTL Discounts – Can use partnered carriers for discounts
- Must be able to support a truck – residential locations can use straight trucks with a lift gate
- Lift Gate Service is available if needed (no dock or forklift)
LTL/FTL Shipping FBA Inventory Process
- Freight-ready date
- Pallet count
- Weight of each pallet
- Product freight class – Work with partnered carrier for dimensions and weights or use online calculator
- Pallets must be ready morning of freight-ready date
- Amazon generates Bill of Lading (BOL) within 24 hours of pickup date
- ARN (Amazon Reference Number) vs FBA Shipment ID – Carrier reference number for arranging pickup and other shipping issues. Do not use FBA Shipment ID
- Box labels for every box in shipment
- Do not overhang more than 1”
- Stretch wrap entire pallet – label it so that carrier does not undo the wrap
- FBA shipping label on all 4 sides of every pallet – Amazon employees must be able to read the label without getting out of the forklift
Shipping Services Moving Toward Automation
Shipping services like UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc. are becoming more competitive by finding ways to streamline their processes for their shipping customers. UPS Smart Pickup®, for example, is intended to provide flexibility for those customers who usually have a regular daily pick up from UPS, but not always. According to UPS, this option "uses innovative technology to automatically arrange a pickup only when you have packages to ship." UPS touts the benefits as bridging predictability with flexibility, as well as:
- providing the convenience of having UPS automatically make a pick up on days you have packages to ship
- minimizing impact opn the environment by UPS not having to make unnecessary stops
- access to one UPS On-Call Pickup® in the event that you have a pickup outside of the regular time
- you'll receive a UPS PDF invoice
Of course, the option also saves UPS time and expense, so you are benefiting them as well if you use this service.
The combination of competitive forces and new technologies in the shipping services industry are likely to generate more convenience services from most carriers before true automation for Amazon sellers is achieved, but stay tuned. These are dynamic times and change is an exciting constant.
Frequently Asked Questions
When shipping FBA inventory, will my product be safe?
Yes, your product will be safe. Fulfillment centers are modern and secure. There is a 24 hour security staff. Everything is automated with robots. There are surveillance cameras and they have reimbursement systems if the products are lost or damaged. Amazon has guidelines for temperature regulations in different warehouses as well. For example, supplements or chocolate.
Can I ship directly from my manufacturer?
Yes, shipping FBA inventory directly from a manufacturer is an option. You can ship labels to manufacturer. However, if you are working with a manufacturer, make sure you receive the products first. Also, make sure that they package correctly. Quality control is extremely important for Amazon in order to make sure customer satisfaction and trust is not harmed. We recommend inspecting all merchandise before shipping FBA inventory to Amazon.
Can I ship to a specific Amazon warehouse?
It is possible but you would incur an additional fee per unit. Amazon dictates where shipments and product go to. Certain warehouses are labeled as distribution centers. You can have a small say in where your product goes but only of about 5% of your inventory. Exception: You can do Prime via self-fulfillment through Amazon Vendor Central but it is hard to get into. Seller fulfilled prime is also an option for Amazon Seller Central.