By Lauren Carter
Packaging and labelling products for the Amazon warehouse
Using Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA) takes most of the work out of your hands but you do need to spend some time making sure your stock is appropriately packaged and labelled before sending it on to the Amazon warehouse. With a little practice this task becomes second nature and you will learn to recognise what sort of treatment each type of product requires. In this blog post we’ll go over some of the essentials.
Why you need to sticker your stock
If you decide to use FBA you will have the option to sticker all of your stock or to have it commingled. When you send commingled stock to the warehouse it will be stored along with all stock of the same type. Say for example you send five copies of a CD into the warehouse; it will be stored in a box with all the other copies of that CD from other sellers. When you sell one, the Amazon staff will pick one from the box and send it to your customer. This means the item the customer receives will not necessarily be the item you sent to the warehouse.
Commingling saves you time printing stickers and attaching them to your products but it means you have no control over the quality of products your customers receive. If another customer sends a counterfeit copy of the CD to the warehouse, your customer might end up receiving it and in the eyes of the law you could be held accountable. This is an extreme example but it is possible. ProfitSourcery would recommend stickering all of your stock, but this is absolutely essential for stock which is particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting. This means you need to print out barcode stickers which you can get from Seller Central, these will be unique to your offering and will identify the stock as yours. These stickers need to be stuck over any existing barcodes on the products.
How to sticker your stock
When you go through the shipping process in Seller Central you will be given a chance to print stickers for your stock. These stickers will associate your stock with your account and will ensure that when a customer buys from you, it will be your stock they will receive. You can buy sticker sheets from Amazon which are designed and cut for the format you will download the stickers in. If you do decide to sticker your stock you need to make sure the stickers are stuck flat on the product where there are scannable. They should be scannable without having to unwrap or open any packaging on the items. You also need to cover the existing barcode on the product. If you have an item with more than one barcode on the packaging you can print extra stickers to cover them.
While it’s important to abide by Amazon’s rules with regards to the placement of stickers you also need to think about your customers. The customer should be able to remove the sticker without causing significant damage to the product. They may be buying items as gifts or they may be collectors of an item. If you have an item which is a collectible or likely to be a gift you might want to consider placing it in a plastic bag before applying the sticker. This is an extra expense but with certain items it can be well worth it.
Packaging your stock
Amazon will package your stock ready to send out to a customer when they place an order but you need to ensure it is packed to survive the journey to the warehouse and storage. You should assume that the warehouse could be dusty or damp. Think about any damage that might occur to your products and package them appropriately. Amazon provide a prep matrix to assist FBA sellers in understanding how to package various items but this is a very generalised set of rules and certainly doesn’t cover all exceptions.
Most of the packaging guidelines set in place by Amazon are intuitive:
- Any fragile or delicate items should be bubble wrapped or otherwise securely packaged to survive knocks or even being dropped.
- Any products containing liquids (this mostly applies to health, beauty and grocery categories) should be in sealed plastic bags; this is to prevent leakages in the warehouse which can damage other stock.
- Any baby products need to be in plastic bags with suffocation warnings. This makes sure that they do not become contaminated in any way and shows responsibility towards your customers.
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wjlonien/
Preparing your shipment
Once your individual products are labelled and packaged securely you need to pack them into boxes which you will ship to the warehouse. You can reuse old boxes as long as they are not too damaged and sturdy enough to withstand delivery but you must make sure you remove any previous shipping labels to avoid confusion. You need to make sure the contents of each box are tightly packed to prevent stock moving around in transit and becoming damaged. If you shake the box there shouldn’t be any movement. You can use bubble wrap, air pillows, foam sheets or whole sheets of paper. Packing peanuts or shredded paper are not allowed.
You will then need to measure the dimensions and weight of each box you are sending to input to the shipment screen in Seller Central, if you choose to use Amazon’s partnered carrier (UPS) you will then see a price for the shipment and be able to download shipment labels which you need to print.
The final step is to apply shipment labels to the outside of the boxes, wait until your boxes are completely packed and sealed as these labels must not be covered by tape used to seal the box. If you are using Amazon’s partnered carrier (UPS) the labels will print as A4 sheets; you can purchase A4 sticker sheets online. These must be stuck on the top or side of the box in an easily visible place; they should not be stuck across the seam of the box so that when the box is opened the label remains intact.
The process of preparing your products is one of the most time consuming aspects of running a business with FBA but it isn’t complicated. Once you have been through the process a few times you will get a system set up that works for you and it won’t take much time at all.
You know how to correctly ship products to the warehouse but what if you don’t know which products you want to send? ProfitSourcery can help you find the products to get started. Sign up now for your free 7 day trial.