How to Send Products in to Amazon for FBA
Why do I need to prepare my items before sending them into Amazon?
I first asked this question in 2017 when I started to dabble in online arbitrage with Amazon FBA. What does an Amazon prep center offer? How does an Amazon prep center help with my sales? What does an Amazon FBA prep center actually do?
I want to help answer these questions and more in this article. Though I may reference other people's experiences, this article will be primarily based on my own experiences. And queue my regular disclaimer: This is not the only way. This is simply a way of prepping products for Amazon FBA. Please soak up as much information as possible to best facilitate your sales journey.
Now for another disclaimer. I have and run my own miniature prep center in Raleigh, NC. This is a slightly new venture I have set out on. My goal is to offer a handful of people the opportunity to grow and expand their business without worrying about learning how to do all the prep. The goal of this article is to teach how to do all the prep. Though this may sound contradictory in terms, I cannot prep and ship everyone's FBA. I also believe that it is easier to make a decision on who to hire or what company to go with when it comes to Amazon FBA prep if you know a little bit about it.
The overall process of preparing and shipping to Amazon for FBA has three general steps:
- Condition, list, & price (CLP)
- Shipping plan & prep (SPP)
I will walk through each one of these steps. I will talk about what I do at each step and why and mention as many of your options as possible. Because I started with arbitrage, this article will focus primarily on arbitrage such as reselling, wholesale and drop shipping. If you are a private label rights (PLR) seller, please feel free to continue reading as some of this may help, however, if you're unsure please ask either in the comments or send me an email.
What do I need to do before I start sending into Amazon FBA?
The first thing you should do before you start getting a shipment ready for Amazon FBA is research. There are many different sources for knowledge on Amazon FBA prep. My two favorite resources are Amazon Seller University's YouTube Channel and Ryan Grant's "The Online Selling Experiment". Of course, these are not the only resources, but they are definitely my favorites. I got my start after my friend handed me a printed copy of Ryan Grant's blog article on how to sell arbitrage on Amazon FBA.
There are several things you will need to know and several materials you will need to have to get started. Doing research before you begin will ensure you have everything you need. Just a couple of examples of this are the difference between choosing your own carrier and choosing an Amazon partnered carrier and which thermal printer you want whether Dymo, Rollo, or Zebra. Once you have everything figured out it will be easier to prepare your shipment and send it in.
Let's make a list of some things you will need to know or have before you get started preparing your first Amazon FBA shipment:
- Am I sending in individual or case packed items?
- Should I use the stickered or comingled setting?
- What are the requirements for sending in used items to Amazon FBA?
- What tools and materials do I need?
- What kind of thermal printer do I need?
- What is the best barcode scanner?
- Is there an easy way to remove store stickers and barcodes?
- Do I need a certain kind of labels and poly bags?
This is a very small sample of a few of the things you will need to know or have to get started preparing your first Amazon FBA shipment. I will go into more detail in this article when I start answering these questions. Your first step to success is writing things down. Like I say in my warehouse starter guide, if it's important, write it down.
How do I condition items to send in for FBA?
The best way to learn what needs to be done and how to do it for conditioning arbitrage items for FBA is to put yourself in the customer's shoes. If you received the product you are selling from an Amazon purchase, how would you feel? If you are buying new retail arbitrage from stores such as Walmart or Target, then they may have several markdowns and discount stickers and barcodes on them. The best way to remove these is with a heat gun or hairdryer and Scotty peeler. I know if I ordered something from Amazon and it showed up with a ton of stickers on it, I would not be happy.
Here's an example of a store sticker that should be removed:
What if my item's package has damage to it? If you are able to push out a small dent in a plastic container, then do it. It is not against Amazon's policies to bring an item up to par as far as condition is concerned. What is against Amazon's policies is either lying about the condition of the item or using less-than-acceptable practices to cover up damage or condition. As far as condition goes, just consider your items used or new.
Generally speaking, you can only sell items on Amazon in new condition if you are able to prove they were in new condition when you bought them. One of the ways Amazon has you do this is with an invoice with your address and other pieces of information on it. If you bought it in a retail store, you most likely don't have this invoice. That means you have to sell the item as used. Under the used condition, there are used - like new, used-very good, used-good, used acceptable, and used - unacceptable.
When it comes to winning the buy box, an item is either new or used. The only category I'm aware of that you can win the buy box in used condition is books. That means the book is either used or new. Don't get caught up in whether the book is in like-new or good condition. Used is used. When in doubt, list it one condition under.
How do I fill out condition notes? Condition notes are designed to help the buyer make smart buying choices. Make sure to fill this out with as much detail and honesty as possible. Don't put any contact information here as that's not what it's used for. Don't put any guarantees or other random notes here. Use this to describe the condition of the item. If you cannot think of how to describe something, there are plenty of Softwares that have pre-recorded notes you can click on. A few of my favorites are Inventory Lab, A Seller Tool's Turbo Lister, and Scan Lister. If you don't want to start out using software, then just make a list as you create condition notes.
The next thing you might want to do is remove blemishes and marks from the packaging. There are several different ways you can do this. One of the popular ways among homeschool moms is to use a dry erase marker on a permanent marker and then just wipe it away with a rag. My favorite way is to use a magic eraser. You can get 9 of them for $7 here. Magic erasers will work on things that are not permanent markers and will last a long time.
The last thing you may want to do to condition items for sale on Amazon FBA is to take a picture. I know what you're thinking, "Ryan, the listings for arbitrage items already have pictures." This is true, however, the picture you take of your specific item is not used on the detail listing page. It is used on the offers page. The main reason you may want to do this is that it will help set your item apart from other offers and increase the chances of you selling your item first and possibly at a higher price.
How do I list items for Amazon FBA?
The best and quickest way of listing items on Amazon for FBA is to use Amazon Seller Central. Of course, there are several pieces of software out there, like the ones I mentioned earlier, that helps streamline the process. If you already know how to use seller central and want to start getting shipments in, then this is the quickest and most efficient route.
This is where to start in seller central to list your arbitrage products for sale on Amazon FBA:
Once you find the product in Amazon's catalog, then you just select it and begin listing. After you click "Sell this product", the only things you're required to fill out are price and condition. If you want to choose your own SKU, then you can. If you are sending into Amazon for FBA, then there is no need to designate quantity during the listing. This will be done when you create the shipment.
To add the condition note and offer image, just click "Advanced View on the right (seen here).
After you fill out all the info, both required and optional, then you can save and finish. To list the rest of your products, just rinse and repeat.
How to create a shipping plan for Amazon FBA.
I don't want to confuse you with too many different phrases, but there is a difference between a shipping plan and a shipment. Though these are basically created in order when using seller central, I believe it is important to know and understand the difference. A shipping plan is the general layout of items and quantities to get everything prepared and sorted. A shipment is a specific group of items set for a specific destination. Of course, these could be the same thing, however, as your quantities get bigger and your shipping plans get bigger, the number of shipments will increase.
The quickest and easiest way to initiate a shipping plan is to go to your FBA inventory and select the items you want to sell then click on send/replenish inventory as shown here:
After you click here you will be asked if you're sure, so click yes. Then you choose individual or case-packed products. Unless you are sending large quantities of items, then pick individual here. After this, you will choose the quantity, prep, and labeling of your items. This is where a prep center comes in handy as you grow your business. You can send the items to them and they handle all of this.
Until your business is of a decent size, you just enter the quantity, choose "merchant" as the one who preps and labels the items, then move on to approving the shipments. On the shipment screen, you only have the option to approve or disapprove shipments. You don't have the option to reroute the destination. That's because Amazon knows where the inventory is needed most. Trust the process. Choose approve or disapprove and move on to boxing and shipping.
Why not just have Amazon prep and label my items?
That's a great question. There are several reasons for this. One of the best reasons I've heard so far is that a seller requested the removal of her products and ended up with 1500 units of a product that wasn't hers. The way this happens is because an employee put the wrong FNSKU stickers on the wrong items. In this case, it was 1500 wrong stickers on 1500 items. Granted this won't always happen and it is not that frequent, if you're average landed cost is $5, then 1500 items sent "back" to the wrong seller will cost you $7,500. That's not a risk I'm willing to take if I can avoid it.
The best way to avoid these types of mistakes is to have a prep center do it for you or do it yourself.
How to send in a shipment for Amazon FBA.
Sending in a shipment to Amazon for FBA is just 5 easy steps.
- Review shipment contents
- Shipping service
- Shipment packing
- Shipping charges
- Shipping labels
Reviewing the shipment contents is basically just making sure that everything seller central thinks your sending in is what you're actually sending in. If the SKU or quantities don't match, then fix it. If your fix requires you to change the quantity more than 10 percent, then you may want to consider starting over with a new shipping plan.
The shipping service should always be the Amazon partnered carrier. Whether you are shipping in a pallet full of products or just small parcels, the Amazon partnered carrier will always be cheaper. If you want to know how to send in LTL (less than truckload), then stay tuned to this blog.
Shipment packing is just making sure that if Amazon is expecting 5 boxes with 10 products each, then that is what the actually receive. Once again, make sure everything matches. Shipping charges are just reviewing and approving the charges. If for any reason the charges don't look right, then don't approve them. Once you approve them, print the shipping labels and put them on the proper boxes. I like the Rollo printer I mentioned earlier in this article. Though it is not required, it is the fastest print for the lowest price.
If you have a UPS account, then you can schedule a smart pickup. If you don't, then just drive the packages to the nearest UPS store and drop them off. You don't need a receipt as Amazon is paying them and you will pay Amazon. Just place them on the counter, say thank you, and leave.
What else do I need to know for FBA shipments?
Learn as much as you can. Like I said at the beginning of this article, this is not the only way of doing things. Because I have been sending in FBA shipments for so long, I don't even do it exactly like this anymore. This method makes it extremely difficult when sending multiple shipments in for multiple clients.
If you want to make this process easy and quick, then learn as much as possible and practice it over and over again. Things that will help speed up the process are writing things down and having the right equipment. A good scale to weigh your items will help with this. Also, I good source for boxes will be important as well.
The most important thing when sending in products and inventory for FBA is to make sure you do it quickly and efficiently.
For more resources or to hire someone else to do all the work, email email@example.com or go to my FBA Prep Center page.