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Getting goods ready for shipping to Amazon

Amazon reseller shipping info

This series of articles is for usa importers and resellers who wish to join the FBA ( Fulfillment by Amazon) program. WCS Cargo is a fully licensed customs broker and freight forwarder offering a full suite of import and transportation services to get your goods to the nearest amazon distribution center within the United States.

Guide to shipping products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers

You’ve enrolled in Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and registered your products to sell – now what? How do you get your products to FBA, and what do you need to do to ensure everything goes smoothly?

There are three key aspects to this process:

  1. Labeling each product unit properly
  2. Packaging your units for shipping, and labeling each package properly
  3. Shipping your products to Amazon properly

Product Labeling

Every unit you send to Amazon needs to be labeled with a scannable barcode so that the fulfillment center is able to help you pick and pack products when fulfilling your orders.

If you are selling your products under Amazon’s “commingled inventory” option (in which your products are mixed with other products with the same product barcode) or if you are using Amazon’s FBA Label Service, you won’t need to provide product labels.

If you are, however, print your labels from Amazon’s shipping workflow online.

When labeling, ensure that:

  • The labels are applied on flat surfaces. If they are wrapped around corners or curves, the label will not be scannable.
  • All barcodes aside from your own are covered. Multiple visible barcodes will impede your product’s receipt at the warehouse and could result in lost inventory.
  • The labels are printed in high-enough quality that they won’t smear or fade: laser jet printers work best for this.
  • The label includes:
    • The barcode
    • FNSKU, the Amazon fulfillment center identifier
    • Title & description
    • Product condition (new or used)

Packaging & Shipment Labeling

In addition to labeling each unit, you need to consolidate your products into boxes and label each of those packages to be shipped to Amazon’s fulfillment center.

When putting together your packages, you can prevent damages incurred in-transit by stuffing your goods to minimize excess space in each box and using padding material. Check out these tips on how to package your shipment. Note that Amazon does not allow you to bundle packages using tapes, bags, or straps. Additionally, stuffing material cannot be any type of packing peanuts, crinkle wrap, or paper confetti (none of these would sufficiently protect your goods from damage anyway).

Amazon has specific guidelines for product packaging if your goods fall under one of the following categories. Be sure to look up these specifics in their shipping guide.

  • Loose products
  • Sold as sets
  • Boxed units
  • Poly-bagged units
  • Case-packaged items
  • Expiration dated items

Marketing materials such as price tags or pamphlets are not allowed to accompany your goods.

In addition, Amazon has tips for packaging specific types of products to protect them from damages and to keep safe the people handling your products – in the warehouse and out. These types of products include:

  • Liquids
  • Sharp objects
  • Fragile objects
  • Plush objects
  • Baby products
  • Apparel, fabric, and textiles
  • Jewelry
  • Small products
  • Pellets, powders, and granular products
  • Plexiglas
  • Adult products

Amazon’s tips can be found in their packaging guide here.

Last but not least, if you are palletizing your goods and you have multiple types of products, try to consolidate all of one type of product into one pallet rather than spreading them out across multiple pallets. Additionally, every pallet you send will need four shipping labels, one of the middle of each side. These labels must be placed on the outside of the cartons or plastic wrap so that it is visible.

Organizing and labeling your packages will ensure that Amazon will be able to receive and sort your products efficiently so that you can start selling goods as soon as possible.

Shipping your products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers

You can send your goods to an Amazon fulfillment center from your warehouse in the U.S. or directly from your supplier overseas.

If you have your goods on-hand yourself, you can ship it to Amazon’s fulfillment centers with any carrieras long as you can provide Amazon with tracking numbers. If you ship it to their fulfillment centers using Amazon’s carriers, the Amazon-generated shipping labels will include the tracking numbers you need.

If, instead, you would like to ship your goods directly to Amazon from your overseas supplier, keep in mind that:

  1. You must import under your own Importer of Record. Amazon will not act as your IOR. This means you are liable and responsible for any costs, risks, and compliance associated with your products.
  2. You must import into the U.S. and arrange for all freight, customs clearance, and duties paid up to Amazon’s receipt of your packages. In other words, you need to ship on DDP (Delivered Duties Paid) terms of sale. Learn more about terms of sales and their differences with this incoterms cheat sheet.
  3. Amazon may be the “ultimate consignee” on shipping documents as long as Amazon is listed as the “care of (c/o)” party, i.e.:
[Your Importer of Record entity’s legal name] c/o FBA

[Amazon’s warehouse address]

For every shipment you send to Amazon, you need to include a Bill of Lading (BOL) along with the shipment and provide this to your carrier.

The BOL number should be included on the shipping container or pallet label for quick freight verification when the goods are delivered to the fulfillment center.

Bills of lading should include the following details:

  • Amazon reference ID and shipment ID (found in the Summary page of your shipment workflow)
  • Seller name
  • Seller address
  • Legal name of seller
  • Carrier name and SCAC code
  • Carrier’s shipping reference number
  • Unit quantity and quantity type (pallets, boxes, cartons, etc.)
  • Markings (container seal number)

Your trucker or freight carrier will need to request a delivery appointment with the Amazon warehouse prior to delivery and they will need the BOL information to do so. Failure to present BOL information could lead to delays or – worse – the warehouse could refuse to receive the shipment altogether.

Common Mistakes

The most common errors that Amazon encounters when people ship their inventory to their warehouses involve:

  • Mislabeling: the product doesn’t match the product label
  • Missing label: the product wasn’t labeled with the Amazon product label at all
  • Barcode unreadable: the label was placed on a curve or corner and cannot be scanned, or the barcode is not clear
  • Shipping requirements issues: any of the above shipping guidelines was not followed, impeding the warehouse staff from properly receiving your products

Make sure to follow Amazon’s instructions! They are there for a reason – to make sure that Amazon can organize your inventory for you so that you can sell your products.

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