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Pack Right; Sell Right – Lessons from the Warehouse Floor

Make Sure Your Inventory is Easy to Find and Easy to Ship From the Amazon Warehouse

Ever wonder what happens to your inventory when it reaches the warehouse? This week’s guest blogger knows! She shares her best packing advice for FBA sellers based on her years of experience shipping our goods to our customers.

For new FBA sellers, I know you must feel overwhelmed packing your box of products to ship off to Amazon. Maybe I can help a little, I work at Amazon and I pack over 900 products a shift, I get to see the love and sometimes the frustration of trying to keep your products in perfect shape for the customer. I do not speak for the company, but I think I can give you some great tips.

First and foremost, there are rules for how everything is packed. Be sure to study them and possibly post them over your packing station. Please don’t depend on something sliding through because you just about have it right. Avoid problems by not creating them!

Think Like Your Customer

At Amazon, the ultimate customer experience is always the goal. So much so, that the customer almost takes on mythic proportions! We want the customer thrilled with their product; we want quality that is second-to-none! Every step matters from the condition of the product, to how it is boxed and shipped.

When we think customer we see a magical sparkly being that is capable of making our dreams come true! Quick go look in the mirror, did you see that magical sparkly being? You are a customer and one of your best resources when it comes to packing your product. If you don’t think you would want something how you packed it, odds are the person buying it won’t appreciate it either. It is so easy to get caught up in the over-packed, anti-theft world of brick and mortar so relax and think great customer experience with the least amount of frustration.

Test Your Inventory in Your Mind

To help visualize all the requirements for packing your products imagine putting your item in a wagon with several other items, some bigger and some smaller and then drag it down a rocky road. Will your item be all right bumping along? Can you take it and knock it off the kitchen counter onto a concrete floor? How about if a handful of salt or dirt was tossed on it? Will it shake off? Most products coming from a retail environment can survive all those tests and not have any problems. Their packaging is designed to protect the contents. You don’t need to do over kill on them. Most will be fine the way they are. The rest need a little help to keep them in awesome condition.

Get the Right Fit with Bags

I love the stuffed animals that come through! I always think of the smile a child is going to have when the box is opened! Almost all the critters are in a poly bag, occasionally I will see one that has been vacuum packed and wonder what it will fluff up to be. When packing, make sure the bag is snug as possible and try to avoid floppy corners. Remember the 3-inch rule, but tighter is better. If the barcode is on the product rather than the bag, make sure that is turned out and held in place by the bag. Once you have the bag secured at the top, if there is a lot of excess cut it off. Make sure each bag has a warning that it isn’t a toy and can cause suffocation.

When bagging anything with poly, try to get a bag that fits. If the bag is too big it is easy for it to get snagged or worse yet, be used as handle for picking up your product with the possibility of it tearing.

Items just stuck in a poly bag that fit but that are not sealed offer some protection but can make handling your product a little slippery (as in sliding out of the bag) and it has good shot of just coming off. If your FBA sticker happens to be on the bag and not the product, it can get lost fast.

Ziploc® bags are great, but use the correct size to avoid floppy corners. Make sure they are shut properly.

Light foam bags used on electronic products stay on well. Make sure when you bag, that you put the barcode out. Products are difficult to remove from foam bags without causing tears, and equally hard to put back in, so make your product scanner friendly.

Don’t Let Your Shipment Be Rejected For Lack of a Sticker

Always secure your bag. If you’re bagging a box shape, you can fold the ends up like a package and tape it. In addition, print out several sheets of the warning labels and make it one of your steps when bagging your merchandise, it is very important from a liability standpoint plus you can get your shipment rejected for forgetting it.

If you are putting an F label on the bag, try to find a spot that is flat or smooth so it doesn’t become creased.

Pop the Bubble Wrap

Don’t over-wrap. I have seen things wrapped in so many layers of bubble wrap that it took a box two times bigger than the product was supposed to go in. The product was definitely safe, but how much cost did that add? It took up space when shipped to the plant, plus the cost of the wrap and the customer had the challenge of getting it unwrapped.

If a product is that fragile, find a snug box instead and pack it tight. It will be easier for you to pack for shipping along with other items and be equally safe. Small, lightweight items wrapped in a single layer of small bubble wrap do great, but only use it if you feel they need the protection; often a small poly bag is sufficient. Use bubble wrap if you worry about dings to an item – but again, a box may be better.

Don’t Crush it with Shrink Wrap

Please practice before using shrink-wrap on a product and use an appropriate weight! It is great for bundling products, but no one wants a glob of plastic that requires tin snips to remove. Use the heavier weight for bundling heavier objects like a case of canned goods or soda. Use a lighter weight for toiletries and baby products etc.

If you are just starting out with shrink-wrap, get the tubes so you only have to deal with sealing two ends. Remember that your FBA label has to be readable through the packaging — do not obscure it with a mass of wrinkles.

Avoid Alien Cactus Bundles

Bundling products can be a challenge – think compact. Try to avoid bundling items to where they look like an alien cactus, it makes them hard to handle and it costs you money when you are trying to pack a tight box. If you bag them, try to have the items to where they don’t flop around when the package is picked up, and make sure the bag is strong enough.

Remember your products don’t have to be pretty in their arrangement but they do need to be secure. A band of shrink-wrap is great at holding together products like deodorant or dish soap. Some folks will put plastic wrap or poly bag then use tape over it to give the bundle rigidity this works great too. The more compact you pack them the easier they are going to be for you to pack too!

Your Label is Your Warehouse Lifeline

Your FBA label is your link to your product, so treat it like the gold that it is. Don’t wrap it around corners or place it where it will be creased. Make sure it has a clean barcode and the code under it is readable. Don’t trim it down or make it hard to find. The easier your product is to process the less likely you are going to have problems.

A thin barcode running along the edge of a label is easily damaged, so make sure you keep it centered. Funky, difficult to read bar codes can create problems for your merchandise at every point in the process of getting to the customer.

Life is fast at Amazon so make sure your FBA labeling is up to speed. If your printer isn’t working just right, take the time to fix it and get everything aligned properly, it will save you many headaches and much frustration.

Cover UPCs completely. If you are going to block it with your FBA sticker, make sure the UPC is unreadable. You may need to put a blank label under it. Problems arise if the wrong code gets read – it is very easy for that to happen if the edge is peeking out. Some scanners are like a hungry bear, grabbing the first barcode that gets near it!).

Don’t use a Sharpie to mark a line through the ISBN or UPC. Besides being against the rules, it is still readable. Use labels to cover them. A tip on many toys or anything that considered collectable:  Do not put scotch tape on the box or mark on it in any way. Many people collect the boxes as well as the contents. The labels on the barcodes will normally peel off.

Odds and Ends

T-shirts have a tendency to wind up in a wad if they don’t have a form and the bag they are in is a little big. Try to pack those as tightly as you can, you might even consider doing a military roll.

Hard Plastic items need to be bagged, or protected in some way to prevent them from getting scuffs and mars.

If you are shipping stuff with lids, make sure those lids are going to stay on.

Protect any surface that gets dirty easily. Cases for items that are cloth, leather or vinyl are bad about gathering dirt. Bag or shrink wrap them, unless it is leather then box it.

Bag or shrink-wrap a toy that is fuzzy or a doll in a three-sided box.

Finally, never use a Sharpie marker on any of your products.

The better you pack your product the better chance you have of no problems. Sometimes this means packing less like with retail boxing. Think secure and snug if you are going to bag or wrap. If you are going to box, make sure it doesn’t rattle. Make sure your FBA label is printed clear, centered and is easy to find.

Two points I took away for me: Make it scanner friendly. No floppy corners. Put it in a box. I’ve had some bags ripped up and returned to me recently, so the floppy corners are on my mind!

Making your product warehouse-friendly is such an important topic for FBA sellers, that I’m covering it again in a couple weeks. Next time, I want to get YOUR questions answered, so please give them to me here or on facebook!

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{ 41 comments… add one }

  • Gail April 15, 2012, 8:58 PM

    Very helpful and interesting information. Thank you so much!

  • Cheryl Serdar April 19, 2012, 2:15 PM

    The other day I had someone return a product and give me this feedback, “Very dissatisfied with this product, not as advertised? Returned for refund……….. ” I wanted to respond I didn’t write the description! Of course I am not, but I do want to write a response. I am curious who does write the descriptions? I am also curious, what happens when someone returns something but its original packaging is destroyed. Does Amazon still try to resell it? Just wondering…. In response to the guy who is dissatisfied I think I will ask what it was that was not as advertised. I sold a couple of this particular product and as of yet no one else complained.

    • Cynthia Stine April 20, 2012, 7:56 AM

      Cheryl,

      Sometimes people state they are dissatisfied or that the product is not as advertised so they don’t have to pay return shipping for changing their minds, basically. If the problem is that the product was damaged in shipping, Amazon will reimburse you. If your product is different from the description on the page, you need to make sure to put your differences in your “notes.” They may still be upset, but at least they can’t claim you didn’t tell them. Did they give you negative shipping feedback? If so, you should respond there what happened (“product was damaged in shipping and buyer has received a refund”. If not, let it go and let Amazon handle it. If the box is opened or damaged in any way, they won’t sell it. You can arrange to have it sent back to you for 50 cents. Then you can either repack and send it back in as “used-like new” or “used-very good”, sell it on eBay or donate it to charity depending. Amazon automatically sends me my “unsellable” items each month so I can take care of them. It is a setting in Seller Central. You can search for “unsellable items” and then there’s a button nearby to allow them to be returned to you automatically.
      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Jeremy April 27, 2012, 9:40 AM

    I am getting ready to ship my first shipment of books to Amazon for FBA. I am still confused as to how the process works. Do you have to package the books individually? What is the best and most efficient way to pack a box of books?
    Could I say wrap a book in a layer or two of bubble wrap and put it in a mailer envelope and put my label on the outside?
    I guess Im just not sure as what the best approach is?

    Maybe it’s covered in your book…which I am in the process of reading!!! But would appreciate any help I can get because I want to prepare my shipment this weekend.

    • Cynthia Stine April 27, 2012, 2:07 PM

      Jeremy,

      Thank you for your question and for buying my book! Since most used books are in the “good” category, there is very little you can do in shipping to make their condition worse unless they are sliding around the box and getting their covers torn. You can just pack your books in a box without any special treatment unless the book is brand-new or you are worried about it for some reason. I pack my boxes with Jenga-like precision, trying to maximize the number of books I get in the box (must be a total of 50 pounds or less per box). Then I stuff in packaging paper or bubble wrap or whatever I have on hand that is legal to use as packing material (no newspaper, for example, or styrofoam peanuts). I fill in the holes and gaps so the contents don’t slide around too much. I DO NOT wrap each item individually, that would be a nightmare and is unnecessary for most items unless they are glass or fragile in some other way. For new books still sealed in plastic, I would just make sure they don’t move around so the plastic doesn’t tear. Do NOT waste money on mailer envelopes, etc. Remember, Amazon will be packing and shipping your item – you are paying them to do this for you. You just need to get it there in good condition with labels properly applied and they will take care of the rest.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

      • Jeremy Nicholson April 27, 2012, 7:50 PM

        Thank you for the quick response and detailed information. I am absolutely finding your book helpful for making the transition to FBA smooth. I have been selling on Amazon for about 6 months and have already grossed $55000 in sales! All from my house. It has been a ridiculous amount of work for my wife and I to do since we both have full time jobs elsewhere. I am looking forward to simplifying the process and letting amazon do the bulk of the work.
        Anyway I guess my main confusion still is about how to pack the books. Now I am going to read through the FBA contract as you suggest in the book, but want to make sure I am doing this right. Do you put labels directly on your books? Or do you wrap them in something like a cheap mailer, or what do you put them in so that you can apply the label so they can be sorted in the warehouse.

        • Cynthia Stine April 29, 2012, 12:02 PM

          Hi Jeremy,

          Yes, you put your labels directly over the barcode on the back of the book. You must make sure the entire barcode is covered by your label. If there is more than one barcode on the book cover, then you need to use two labels (one can be blank). You do not need to wrap or pre-pack your items unless they are fragile in some way. What I do is pack my box carefully so things don’t move around. I stick in packing paper to fill the holes so the books are secure and not sliding around and I ship the box to Amazon who then takes care of all packing and shipping of my item to the customer.

          Hope this helps!
          Cheers,
          Cynthia

  • Timothy Poplaski September 17, 2012, 5:21 AM

    The packaging requirements still have me confused when it comes to brand new items that are to be co-mingled with Amazon’s own inventory.

    Here’s a perfect example of what has me confused – http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B00168OKSS/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_0?ie=UTF8&index=0&isremote=0

    I have that specific item, a whole box of them, brand new, no flaws. The whisk is sold attached by the end to the cardboard hanger thing, not in a box. Exactly as in the linked picture someone added to the Amazon listing page.

    So, do I have to wrap each whisk individually? Or can I just pack them such that they won’t be damaged in shipping? (I was thinking of packing them like glasses, with a cardboard insert to keep them separated) Then, once they arrive at the Amazon warehouse, Amazon just adds them “bare” to an existing box of identical Amazon inventory? And when someone buys them, Amazon just throws some bubble wrap or air bag spaces around it, and in to a box it goes?

    A related question is the retail packages condition. I have some laser levels and door locks that come in somewhat fragile cardboard “wrap” over plastic packaging / cardboard boxes. I’ve got all the ones with small tears separated out, because I’m thinking that unless the packaging is near pristine, it cannot be co-mingled inventory? So I’ll have to label them and note that the packaging is a bit worn in the product description?

    I’ve tried contacting Amazon directly, and they’ve just sent me canned responses to refer back to the web site for the guidelines. Except that, having read the guidelines, I’m still just not clear on what they want. It seems like they’re being deliberately vague and I’ve been iffy about just sending a box off to them to “see what happens”.

    • Cynthia Stine September 17, 2012, 11:54 AM

      Timothy,

      The bottom line on packaging is you want it to get to Amazon in good shape and then to your customer. For your whisk situation I would probably enclose each one in a plastic baggie and tape it up snugly. This is not required by Amazon, but it would insure that the whisk gets to my customers fairly clean and dust-free. Warehouses can be dirty, things get dropped, etc. You need to be snug since loose plastic corners can get trapped in the warehouse machinery and shredded..

      Put your sticker both on the bag and on the tag. This way, if the bag is ripped, the warehouse folks know it is your whisk. Since you have a lot of whisks and they are fairly sturdy, I wouldn’t worry about a lot of additional packing in the box, just some crumpled paper to make sure they don’t move around too much in the box. When your whisk is sent to a customer, it will be in the plastic you put on it, secured into a box by Amazon with additional packing material and sent.

      For items that are going to be stickerless co-mingled (i.e. there is no identifier that a particular item is yours on the box), you don’t need to worry about wrapping them individually in plastic. Basically, you pack those items securely into a big box with plenty of packing paper or bubblewrap or whatever you think will keep the containers nice and pristine until they get to the warehouse. The warehouse guys will scan your box and then put the items with all the other new XYZs.

      I have never sent anything in stickerless co-mingled because I don’t want to take the risk that someone is less rigorous than me and has sent in a worn or damaged box as “new” and then my customer is mad that their product is less than perfect. So, I label everything separately even when I have box loads of them (like when I order from a wholesaler). If my customer is still unhappy, then it is my fault for better or worse.

      In terms of shabby packaging on new items, I’d list them as Used-Like New and then explain in my description that it is actually new, but the container is worn/damaged/etc. This way people know what they are getting. In Amazon’s world new is new so if your packaging is not crisp and new-looking, you better list it as used.

      I hope this helps!
      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Peggy November 7, 2012, 10:07 PM

    I sell new electronics that come in the original box already shrink-wrapped with the UPC label on one end of the box and a UPC-like barcode (1 1/4″ of vertical lines) with just the model number on the other end of the box. Do I put the FBA label “over” the shrink-wrap covering the real UPC label while putting a blank label over the model number label?

    • Cynthia Stine November 8, 2012, 12:12 AM

      Peggy,

      It doesn’t really matter where you put the label so long as there is no confusion with any other barcode on the package. Amazon warehouse workers have the fastest, grabbiest scanners ever made and if those scanners grab a wrong barcode, it can mess things up for your order and show up as an unknown product. Put the Amazon label over the UPC or the ISBN and then put a blank label over the other barcode and you’ll be fine. Happy selling!

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Bryan November 14, 2012, 9:15 PM

    Hi Cynthia,

    I had a question for you even though this thread is older than 6 months old. I have been using FBA to sell paperback trade comic books and using Avery Easy Peel address labels. But I still get occasional bad feedback stating the labels don’t come off and they are ruining the book cover. What labels do you suggest using on paperback books to avoid this? I have had trouble getting these labels off paperbacks easily myself, and comic collectors are a pickier bunch than your average paperback novel reader.

    Thanks for any ideas!

    Bryan

    • Cynthia Stine November 27, 2012, 1:00 PM

      Bryan,

      Since many of your buyers are collectors, I suggest you buy bags of the appropriate size from Uline.com or some other provider and paste your label on the bag rather than the comic. You will need to make sure the bag is tight enough to the comic that it is snug and that your label still covers the bar code completely – just on the bag rather than the comic. Uline will sell large quantities of strong plastic bags for a very good price (I buy them by the thousands for my plush toys and laptop cases). In this way, your collectors don’t have to pick off labels.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Michelle November 30, 2012, 10:49 PM

    Hi Cynthia,

    Great post and great blog!

    I’m getting ready to send off my first FBA shipment, and am trying to figure out where I should start!
    What I mean is that I have everything under the sun to sell including laser printer toner and office supplies, used CD’s, like-new magazines, new & used bike parts, and software, just to name a few categories. I thought that FBA would be a great idea, but most of the “make money selling on Amazon” posts are about selling books via Amazon. How do I know what I “should” send to Amazon? Many of the items I have are either new, like new or gently used.

    I have a shiny new Dymo 450 label printer in hand, tons of boxes, and apparently tons of product, and just need someone to push me over the edge to get the first shipment out the door. Do I just dive in and send everything to FBA or is there a logical place that I should start? My thought is to send in bigger, higher priced items (printer supplies for example that would sell for $200+/- per unit) and work my way to smaller, less expensive items (CD’s that might get $2-$3 each). I’ve heard conflicting comments on other blogs about Amazon and bigger ticket or larger items, etc. (Not that a printer toner package is huge by Amazon standards – it’s just bigger and takes more room than a CD for example.)

    Any input is greatly appreciated!

    Michelle

    • Cynthia Stine December 1, 2012, 9:39 PM

      Michelle,

      Welcome to the world of FBA selling! My advice is to send it all in and sell it all.

      I sell a lot more than books on Amazon. Amazon allows you to sell used in most categories. There are a few exceptions like toys (and you CAN sell collectible toys), clothes, food, beauty products, etc., so make yourself familiar with what you can and can’t sell used on Amazon before sending in your items.

      All your answers can be found on Amazon’s Seller Central once you are a Pro Seller. Click “help” on the upper right-hand corner and read your contract and the in-depth information they have about selling on Amazon.

      Good luck to you!

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • bradon01 February 18, 2013, 1:47 PM

    Hi Cynthia,

    I have bought some used board games from a thrift store. I would like to wrap them with ‘stretch wrap’ to keep them clean and safe upon arrival to FBA warehouse. Does the warehouse frown upon using ‘stretch wrap’ to wrap items as it likes to cling to everything?

    • Cynthia Stine February 18, 2013, 4:20 PM

      Bradon,

      Stretch wrap and shrink wrap are OK (as long as you are not trying to pass a used item off as “new”). You just need to make sure the stretch wrap isn’t going to come unraveled in the warehouse. Boxes zip along rollers all over the place at high speed and there is the potential for loose plastic to get caught on things. I use plastic bags for my plush toys, diaper bags, etc., and I use tape to make sure all ends are close fitting to the toy so as long as your shrink wrap is secured with tape, you should be fine.

      • Cynthia Stine February 19, 2013, 11:35 AM

        Oops! I meant your “stretch wrap” not shrink wrap. Shrink wrap is already tight around the item. :)

  • Susie February 24, 2013, 3:55 AM

    Hi Cynthia: thanks for the post. I just finished your book. Good stuff thank you.
    Im shipping some toys for the first time that are plushy and come with the cardboard back and bottom – the only part exposed is the front. I tried to find boxes for that exact size but having trouble with that. I just came back from staples with clear trash bags but are 15 gal- too big.
    How would you recommend shipping them? Is the suffocation bag enough? Does Amazon really mistreat a lot of the items? I though of putting a piece of plastic in the front – I already bought some binder dividers but it has perforations and looks weird. Thanks for your time Cynthia!

    • Cynthia Stine February 24, 2013, 11:58 AM

      Susie,

      The easiest thing is to find smaller bags. I find that the “Jumbo” zip lock bags hold a lot as do the Turkey bags used to roast turkeys. I buy my bags in bulk from Uline.com because I sell a lot of plush or cloth items from toys to diaper bags. They are about turkey bag size, 2 ml thick and I use them for all sorts of wrapping. Or you can cut your bags down to size a bit and then carefully tape it so all the corners are close to the toy and won’t catch when zipping along the rollers.

      On the bag be sure to put a sticker about suffocation. I print mine off on my Dymo.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Maria Allen April 4, 2013, 11:17 AM

    Cinthia, I just reviewed all the posts on this site and I would like to thank you so very much for the great responses you give. I have your book, unfortunatly, only had time to read it once so far. I got over 300 items on FBA und my prices are competetive but sales are piteful. Any advise?

    • Cynthia Stine April 5, 2013, 10:02 AM

      Maria,

      If your sales are slow then you want to look at several factors including the ranking (are they all high-ranking items? They’ll sell slower), and your price. It is possible that competitors are undermining your prices.

      In my most recent blog (April 4, 2013), I list links to past blogs where I cover the topics of how to reprice and rank. I also have a post on “inventory slump” that may be useful to you. The links are all in the post so you can click to the one you want. In addition, each post has a button at the bottom that gives you a “print ready” version of the post in case you want to print it off and hold on to it.

      Hope this helps!
      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Leah May 7, 2013, 1:43 AM

    Hi Cynthia,

    You have a wonderful site and book! I just had a quick question… I am trying to figure out how to package a multi-pack of liquid items that do not have double seal lids. They are bottles of lotion that sell in packs of two. As far as I can tell, liquid items that do not have a double seal must be individually wrapped in poly bags. So should I individually wrap the bottles in their own poly bags before attaching them together? Or can I wrap both tightly in one poly bag? Thanks so much in advance.

    Leah

    • Cynthia Stine May 7, 2013, 11:39 AM

      Leah,

      Since the items sell in packs of two, you can package them together. Make sure the bags are thick and durable enough, they can get hard wear in the warehouse. Also make sure the bags are taped tight to the product so a corner doesn’t get trapped in one of the rollers that they use to move product around the warehouse.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Duane Malanchuk July 31, 2013, 10:14 AM

    Hi Cynthia,
    I am new to Amazon fulfillment, my first item I sent to Amazon were some wine glasses, i forgot to affix the label but amazon was nice enough to correct it for me. Thank you for the information I know it helps people that are new to the process like me.
    My question was this. Does Amazon repackage everything a person send to them to be sent to the buyer with a Amazon box and new packaging material?
    Like, for instance my wine glasses . Does Amazon put bubble wrap around each individual glass for me , is this part of the handling charges and fees or should I be doing this work because I want to keep the buyer happy? Thanks Cynthia,are you writing a book about this, if not you should? ..Thanks Again Duane

  • Mark August 10, 2013, 10:14 PM

    Hi,
    I work in a retail membership club. Recently, a newer member came to us and explained he was new to the area and would be doing a LOT of business with us. He sells our cancelled goods to Amazon. We provide the pallet storage until he gets a full pallet, he comes in and shrink wraps it and gets it ready to ship. He said last year he sold into the 6 figures to Amazon. How did he get started doing this? I would love to do this for a side income. He recently said he would no longer be doing business with us as our rec lady shipped a pallet to Amazon that was not ready to go. He said if Amazon had gotten that pallet (we were able to retrieve it before delivery) he said they would have dropped him. He said there is zero tollerance for this? Is this true? Thanks a lot.

    • Cynthia Stine August 11, 2013, 12:00 AM

      Mark,

      Thank you for your question. I can’t answer for Amazon as to whether or not they would have dropped your member for sending in an incomplete pallet. They do have rules, obviously, but some are more serious than others. My experience is that anything that impacts a customer’s experience is more serious than a logistical mistake. They are fanatical about a great customer experience. I have made mistakes in sending in the wrong kinds of inventory or not packing things right and they’ve worked with me. I don’t ship by the pallet. I send in big boxes. A pallet is a lot of trouble and boxes are easier and you can send them as they get filled.

      In terms of getting started, you might want to listen to my podcast and check out my book. I’ve been selling for about three years as part-time income and I love it.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Tony October 13, 2013, 11:16 PM

    Hi,
    Could you please clarify the following for me if you can as I searched and searched and still confused and not clear.
    I just can not understand why do I need a UPC and Amazon label for the same item.
    If I have a new product(example: my own spoon), do I need to have a UPC? and if yes do I also need to print Amazon Label? and if the answer is still yes, do I need to cover the UPC of the product with the Amazon label I just created?.
    If I have to cover the product’s UPC with the Amazon label, then what is the point of having the UPC In the first place?. Why do I have to buy the UPC and then cover it?. If the UPC is used so I can search for my product on Amazon so I can list, can I search by name and not UPC? and my last question is if I have 100 items of the same product and if I have to purchase the UPC, can I buy just one UPC and apply that one UPC to all of the products?. I would really appreciate if you could clarify the above questions for me. Many thanks in advance.
    Tony

    • Cynthia Stine October 14, 2013, 2:27 AM

      Tony,

      If your product already has a UPC printed on it, then you would use that UPC number to list your product. You can also search on Amazon by the product’s name. You will still need to copy the UPC code or the ASIN number in order to use a listing program like ScanPower to pull up the data. The label you print off and place over the UPC code is your unique identifier called an FNSKU. It stands for “Amazon’s Fulfillment Number Stock Keeping Unit.” It is Amazon’s fulfillment identification for your product. It tells Amazon how many units you have, what condition, what price and even to what warehouse you sent the product. If someone accidentally finds one of your products on the floor of the warehouse, that FNSKU will tell them everything they need to know about who it belongs to. It is for their internal use which is why you need both a UPC code which identifies the product universally to the whole world (hence “universal product code”) and an Amazon label.

      If your product is something you have created yourself and it does not have a UPC code yet, you will need to buy one that is guaranteed to be unique in order to create a listing on Amazon.com. You can buy UPC codes cheaply, just do a Google search on “Cheap UPC codes.” It doesn’t matter if you have one or a thousand of that product, once it is up on Amazon’s site, you can send in as many as you like using the same UPC code. You do NOT need to print the UPC somewhere on the product or product box if you don’t want to. You WILL need your FNSKU label on each product’s packaging or bag (if you place it inside a polybag).

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Tony October 14, 2013, 4:07 PM

    Hi Cynthia,
    Thank you so so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I really appreciate it.
    Regards Tony

  • Jerry Finney October 25, 2013, 9:33 AM

    I have been doing FBA for a few months now. I have seen my profit rise from just 65.00 now up and down between 250-595.00 per drop. I am wanting to get in to selling other things besides books. I have a wholesaler that I use for my retail business, and can get these little box items very little cost since I am a business and buy in bulk. I just can not figure out how to pack them. Here is the ISBN of just one out of about 40 different items but they are all the same size 0762437057. Most are wrapped from the factory, all these are new but I list them as Like new, not brand new. IF you could please assist and tell me if I need to do anything else to these other than just list and place them in the box. I.E do I need to wrap them in bubble wrap or something else. I have been shipping these in the small flat rate Priority box from the post office so I am sure that the Amazon box is plenty big enough. Thanks for your help and thanks for this blog.

    Sincerely
    Jerry

  • Chris G March 9, 2014, 8:29 PM

    Hello,

    Thank you for the great blog. I am confused about multi-packed liquid items. The guide states that multi pack liquids under a certain volume need to be in a corrugated box. But I have purchased say a 3 pack of liquid face wash from FBA sellers before and don’t remember them coming in a box.

    If I wanted to sell a 3 pack of soft soap liquid hand soap, would the 3 pack need to be in a box?

    Thanks!

    • Cynthia Stine March 14, 2014, 9:11 AM

      Chris,

      That is a good question. The answer is “I don’t think so.” If it fits in a polybag, you are probably OK unless the soap is very large and heavy. The box is really about keeping heavy items supported and from breaking. If your soap in a plastic bottle the rules are different than glass (you can go bigger). I hope that helps!

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Greg Healey April 23, 2014, 2:43 AM

    Cynthia, I have just finished your book. A wonderful insight which has motivated me to take my first step into FBA.

    I am preparing my first shipment and although I have contacted seller support I struggle to get any concise answers. My questions are around the packing of fragile items for example, china plates, mugs etc:

    1) The items are sold individually but I buy them in larger pack sizes, therefore I need to individually wrap each item. I note your advice regarding potentially using a tight fitted cardboard box vs. bubblewrap but even with thick cardboard I am not sure if a plate would survive a 3 foot drop test, I don’t want to over-pack but do you have any tips?

    2) In the case when I protect using a tight fitted cardboard box I have been using off-cuts of cardboard used to initially ship the products to me (i.e. to save waist and reduce cost). You mentioned that for a new product the packaging should also be new so I am slightly concerned if this is now of the standard required?

    3) Are there any differences between packing requirements on the same plate between stickered and co-mingled inventory i.e. in both cases do individual items need to survive the drops test or in the case of co-mingling is it the entire box of plate that just need to pass the test?

    Thanks so much for any help.

    Greg

    • Cynthia Stine April 23, 2014, 1:57 PM

      Greg,

      For fragile items, if you feel bubblewrap is needed, by all means. Wrap the item in bubblewrap, then place it in a plain box with no markings. Seal the box and put a label that says “This is a set. Do not Separate” on the top. In addition, put your FBA label nearby. This way, your customer will receive the sealed box inside a bigger box when they buy your item.

      In terms of stickered vs. co-mingled, you must go stickered if you are re-packaging the box like I suggest above. For co-mingled, your box MUST be the exact same box as pictured in the Amazon listing or the box a consumer would see if they bought one plate at a retail store. Since yours come from a pack, you don’t have that option and must go stickered. In all cases, you want your package to be protective enough to get from you to your customer.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • George October 9, 2014, 8:30 AM

    Hi Cynthia,

    Just doing my first FBA product, and found your post on packing for FBA.
    Thank you for the information. Sometimes it is hard making head or tail of what Amazon is saying.

    So…

    I have a small (4oz) bottle of oil with a plunger top.
    So far I have not contemplated boxing it, however do I understand correctly that unless the top is “double sealed” it would need to be in a plastic bag?
    If it is boxed would I still need a bag?
    If I decide to box it can the UPC code only be on the box and not on the bottle?
    if I am only selling it on amazon and nowhere else can I forget the UPC code and only use the FNSKU code?

    What I am trying to do is avoid having to get a sticker placed on top of what is printed on the bottle or the box.

    Thank you,

    George

    • Cynthia Stine October 11, 2014, 10:21 AM

      George,

      Yes, you need to polybag the item. If it is in a box and entirely enclosed then you don’t need a polybag. If the box is printed (marketing, pictures, etc.) I recommend a bag so the box doesn’t get dusty or dinged up in the warehouse. If it is a box where part of the bottle is exposed, you definitely need a polybag. If you box it, you can put your Amazon FNSKU label on the box – no UPC code is required.

      If there is no UPC code to cover up, you can put the sticker on the outside of the polybag. That way when your customer opens the bag, there is no sticker on the item.

      Hope this helps!
      Cynthia

  • Sam October 18, 2014, 9:14 PM

    Hi Cynthia,

    I am wanting to polybag a oval soft item that is a several inches thick.

    The bag is rectangular in shape, so it is snug at the sides, and has corners that stick out.

    How do I try to meet the 3 inch rule, do I measure diagonally from the product to the corner?

    If it is more than 3 inches is this still OK, or do I need to make the bag smaller and the item will be squashed up more?

    If squashed up, this may mean the bag is easier to break or pop?

    I am trying to determine the size of the polybags to use.

    Thanks!

    • Cynthia Stine October 22, 2014, 6:21 PM

      Sam,

      I recommend that you use whatever size fits and then tape the corners so they don’t get caught in the rollers at the Amazon warehouse.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

  • Debbie November 23, 2014, 6:39 PM

    Hi Cynthia,

    I love your blog. It’s nice to hear from somebody with experience.
    My question is, I am about to send in to fba a new product. The product is in a polybag that has a card topper stapled on to the top of the bag. Do I need to be concerned that the cardboard might tear ? Should I wrap it in another polybag?

    Thanks for your help
    Debbie

    • Cynthia Stine November 24, 2014, 9:21 AM

      Debbie,

      This is a “it depends” answer. I often will repackage simply because the original bag doesn’t seem strong enough (those cellophane ones can rip pretty easily). As far as the cardboard tag, you don’t need to re-bag based on that. It is good to go as is if the product itself is contained. Now, if this was some kind of collectible, I would definitely bag it, but it doesn’t sound like it is. Good luck!

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

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