Shipping items to Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) can seem daunting, but it’s actually quite straightforward once you know the process. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to successfully ship your products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers so they can handle storage, picking, packing and shipping on your behalf.
Table of Contents
What is FBA and How Does it Work?
FBA stands for Fulfillment by Amazon. It’s an Amazon service where you ship your products to Amazon’s warehouses (called fulfillment centers) and they take care of storage, picking, packing and shipping when an order comes in.
The basic FBA process works like this:
- You source and manufacture (or purchase wholesale) products you want to sell on Amazon.
- You prepare and label products for FBA and ship them to Amazon fulfillment centers.
- Amazon scans and checks in your inventory. The products are now eligible for Prime and FBA benefits.
- When a customer places an order for your product, Amazon picks, packs and ships it for you.
- Amazon handles any customer service and returns.
- You get paid for the sale! Amazon deducts their fees and sends you the profit.
The main benefits of FBA include:
- Prime eligibility – Products in FBA are eligible for Prime’s free 2-day shipping. This tends to increase sales.
- Faster shipping – Amazon can get products to customers quicker with their fulfillment network.
- Easier scalability – You don’t have to worry about picking, packing and shipping as your sales grow. Amazon handles it for you.
- Customer service – Amazon provides customer service and handles returns for FBA products.
Overall, FBA makes the entire selling process easier by letting Amazon handle logistics and customer service. But you need to properly prepare and ship products to their fulfillment centers first.
FBA Shipments – Types and Rules
When shipping to FBA, there are a few key shipment types and rules to understand:
- Standard shipments – Contain any mix of products in your FBA inventory. Best for initial shipments to stock Amazon or replenish inventory.
- Removal orders – Products shipped back from Amazon fulfillment centers to you. Usually returns or unsold inventory.
- Multi-channel fulfillment orders – Orders shipped from Amazon to customers on sales channels outside of Amazon.
- Hazmat shipments – Contain hazardous materials that require special handling.
- Box weight limit – 50 lbs for standard and multi-channel shipments, 69 lbs for apparel.
- Box dimensions – No larger than 24″ on its longest side, 17″ on its median side, and 8.5″ on its shortest side.
- Labeling – Each box must be labeled with FBA labels that contain shipment and product info. Labels are generated when you create the shipment in Seller Central.
- Commingling – FBA items are commingled by default in Amazon’s warehouses. Items must have a scannable UPC or FNSKU.
- Prep – All products must be ‘eCommerce ready’ for easy picking/packing per Amazon’s requirements.
Following Amazon’s shipping rules helps ensure your products make it to the fulfillment center shelves smoothly and efficiently.
How to Ship to Amazon FBA in 6 Steps
Shipping to Amazon FBA is a straightforward process that can be broken down into six main steps:
Step 1: Label Products
Your products need proper labeling and prep before they ship to Amazon:
- Apply FNSKU labels – This is a unique identifier code from Amazon that tells them the product belongs to you. Can be sticker or printed directly on product.
- UPC/EAN – For commingling inventory, ensure your product has a scannable UPC or EAN barcode.
- Prepare per FBA requirements – Follow Amazon’s prep guidelines like bagging, tagging, poly-bagging etc to make products ‘eCommerce ready’.
Proper labeling helps Amazon identify and handle your inventory correctly.
Step 2: Create Shipment in Seller Central
Log into Seller Central and navigate to ‘Send/Replenish Inventory’ to create a new FBA shipment:
- Select shipment type (standard, removal, hazmat etc).
- Enter number of boxes and weight.
- Add products and quantities you’re shipping.
- Confirm shipping plan.
Amazon will generate shipment IDs and prep labels for you to print.
Step 3: Apply Shipping Labels
Print the labels from Seller Central and apply to each box:
- FBA labels – Contain shipment ID, to/from addresses, box content info. Apply to narrow side of box.
- Hazmat labels – Any extra hazardous material labels if required.
- Packing slips – Print any delivery packing slips to include if desired.
Proper labeling ensures Amazon can process your shipment correctly on arrival.
Step 4: Ship via Carrier
You can ship FBA products via any carrier – UPS, FedEx, USPS etc.
- Schedule pickup or drop off.
- Send to the fulfillment center address specified in Seller Central.
- Save tracking number to update shipment later.
Amazon has over 175 fulfillment centers worldwide, so check the address carefully.
Step 5: Confirm Shipment
Once the carrier scans your shipment, update the tracking number in Seller Central:
- Go to ‘Manage FBA Shipments’.
- Find shipment and select ‘Confirm Shipment’.
- Enter carrier name and tracking number.
- Save changes.
This lets Amazon know your shipment is on the way and when to expect it.
Step 6: Monitor Status
You can monitor the status of your FBA shipment in Seller Central:
- Check ‘Manage FBA Shipments’ for updates.
- Status will go from ‘Shipping’ to ‘Checked In’ once Amazon processes it.
- Inventory will become available for sale once checked in.
- Fix any errors if shipment gets stuck in ‘Receiving’ status.
Stay on top of your shipment status to ensure your products become available for sale smoothly.
And that’s it – those six steps are all it takes to successfully ship products from your location into Amazon’s FBA program!
FBA Shipment Checklist
Use this checklist to make sure you don’t miss any key steps when preparing and shipping to Amazon FBA:
🔹 Apply FNSKU labels to products
🔹 Ensure UPC/EAN codes on commingling inventory
🔹 Follow Amazon’s prep guidelines
🔹 Create shipment in Seller Central
🔹 Print FBA labels, packing slips, hazmat labels
🔹 Apply labels properly to boxes
🔹 Ship via desired carrier
🔹 Save tracking number
🔹 Confirm shipment in Seller Central
🔹 Monitor status until ‘Checked In’
Following this checklist helps avoid common mistakes and ensures a smooth FBA shipment.
Avoiding Problems with FBA Shipments
Shipping to FBA is relatively straightforward, but there are a few common problems to watch out for:
Incorrect Prep and Labeling
- Double check all prep and labeling guidelines. Amazon will reject improperly prepped items.
- Apply labels cleanly and correctly. Smudged/incorrect labels slow down processing.
- Entering wrong product quantities or weights in Seller Central leads to receipt errors.
- Skipping shipment confirmation results in lost inventory. Always update with tracking info.
Poor Carrier Handling
- Pack items very well and use ‘Fragile’ labels to prevent damages.
- Avoid carriers with reputation for rough handling like FedEx SmartPost.
Inventory Planning Issues
- Ship too much inventory and you’ll rack up long-term storage fees.
- Don’t ship enough and you may miss out on sales waiting for next shipment.
- Review sales velocity and plan shipments/quantities accordingly.
Avoiding these common issues results in smooth FBA shipments and healthy inventory levels.
Tips for Efficient FBA Shipments
To maximize efficiency and minimize costs, keep these tips in mind:
- Consolidate shipments – Fewer, larger shipments are more efficient than many small ones.
- Ship by sea – Ocean freight from China to Amazon FBA takes longer but costs way less.
- Leverage Amazon partnered carriers – Takes out the middleman. Discounted rates from UPS, DHL etc.
- Ship smart – Send inventory to closest fulfillment center. Ship heavy ground, lightweight air.
- Prepare expertly – Well prepped inventory leads to faster processing. Bag, label neatly, optimize packaging.
- Reduce fees – Storage fees add up. Ship only what will sell in a reasonable timeframe.
With some planning, you can optimize your FBA shipments for maximum efficiency and profitability.
Amazon FBA Shipment Costs
There are a few main costs associated with shipping inventory to Amazon FBA:
- Inbound shipping – Getting products to Amazon. Varies based on weight, distance, carrier.
- FBA fees – Pick and pack ($0.65-3.90 per item), weight handling ( $0.26-0.80 per lb).
- Storage – Monthly inventory storage fees based on volume. Sellers are charged after the first 30 days.
- Optional services – Extra services like labeling, bagging, gift wrapping etc if needed.
Ways to reduce overall FBA shipment costs:
- Compare carrier rates and leverage discounts
- Ship more inventory less often
- Optimize packaging to weigh less
- Follow prep guidelines to avoid fees
- Ship only what will sell to minimize storage
The complete FBA fee schedule can be complex, so carefully go over all the costs. With optimization, you can reduce fees and maximize profit.
FBA Shipment Process FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about the FBA shipment process:
How long does it take Amazon to receive and check in FBA shipments?
It typically takes 1-3 business days from arrival to be fully checked in and available for sale. Air shipments may process faster than ground. Proper prep and labeling speeds up the process.
Can I ship products purchased on Alibaba/AliExpress to Amazon FBA?
Yes, you can use any source to purchase products for your Amazon FBA business, including wholesale sites like Alibaba. Just follow Amazon’s prep and labeling guidelines.
Does Amazon FBA accept pallets?
Yes, Amazon can receive full pallet shipments to their fulfillment centers docks. Ensure each pallet has unique FBA shipping labels applied.
Can I check the inventory I have checked-in online?
Yes, the ‘Inventory’ page in Seller Central shows total quantity of each product checked in and available for FBA fulfillment.
How should I handle customer returns of my FBA products?
Amazon will handle customer returns. If the return is due to an issue with the product, Amazon may initiate a refund and dispose or return to you. Monitor under ‘FBA Returns’.
Properly understanding the FBA shipment process helps maximize sales and minimize hiccups.
Comparison of FBA Shipment Companies
There are a few third-party companies that can help with preparing and shipping products to Amazon FBA:
|Prep, labelling, shipping
|Varies based on services and volume. Starts at $55 per shipment
|$100K insurance. Integrates with Seller Central. Discount on shipping labels.
|Can be pricey for high volumes. Mixed reviews.
|FBA prep and shipping
|Starts at $50 per pallet plus $0.20 per item handled
|$5M insurance. Fast processing times.
|Requires high minimums. Only US addresses.
|End-to-end FBA support
|Starts at $49 month + per order fees
|Inventory management. Bundling. Photography.
|Setup fees. Storage fees add up.
|Varies by carrier rates
|Discounted FedEx & UPS rates. Label printing.
|No prep or FBA-specific services.
|Prep, storage, shipping
|Starts at $1 per order +月20 for storage
|Integrated inventory management. Real-time tracking.
|Expensive compared to DIY shipping.
Leveraging services like Velocityship or Quiet Logistics can help make your first FBA shipments smooth while you get the hang of it. But weigh costs vs value as volume increases.
Shipping to Amazon FBA as a Business
Selling products on Amazon through FBA can be a highly profitable business model. Here are some tips on managing FBA shipments as part of a larger retail business:
Create Shipping SOPs
Document standard operating procedures for handling shipments to streamline the process as you scale.
Leverage FBA Tools
Use tools like multi-channel fulfillment, barcode scanners, and inventory management software to save time.
Use reports to understand sales velocity, lead times, inventory levels to optimize shipments and lower costs.
Compare rates across multiple carriers and leverage discounts from integrations like Amazon Partnered Carrier Program.
Automate Where Possible
Automate repetitive tasks like shipment creation, label printing, inventory updates to speed up processing.
Set clear expectations with suppliers on prep, lead times to ensure shipments arrive to Amazon on schedule.
With some planning and optimization, FBA shipments can run smoothly at scale enabling your Amazon business to grow.
The key takeaways on shipping inventory to Amazon FBA:
- Prepare and label products properly to avoid rejection
- Create shipments in Seller Central for labels and tracking
- Follow Amazon’s rules for box sizes, weights and prep
- Ship via any carrier and confirm shipment with tracking
- Monitor status until delivery and check-in
- Optimize with larger shipments, cheaper rates, better planning
While it may seem complex at first, with this guide you now have an in-depth understanding of the FBA shipment process from start to finish. Leverage these best practices to start selling successfully on Amazon FBA.