If you’re an Amazon merchant, you must adhere to certain rules and guidelines for preparing, packing, and shipping your orders—especially if you have that coveted Prime shipping checkmark! This can be a lot to handle internally, especially for small businesses, but Amazon has fulfillment support called “FBA” to help you along the way. Let’s explore the types of FBA Prep Services and how they can benefit your business.
What is FBA?
FBA—or “fulfillment by Amazon”—allows Amazon sellers to ship products to customers through Amazon warehouses, guaranteeing much faster shipping times and even returns management with Amazon policies attached. Although this can make consistent and reliable fulfillment easier for small business owners and eCommerce brands that sell on Amazon’s vast marketplace, your products must be prepared according to Amazon’s standards before they are sent to an FBA warehouse. These requirements include:
- Packaging materials based on product type
- Removing hangers from clothing items
- Labeling sets of multiple products as such
- Double sealing
- Appropriate taping
Because these requirements vary significantly depending on what type of product you are shipping using FBA, you should consider enlisting the support of an FBA Prep Service to guarantee your business is meeting Amazon standards.
What are FBA Prep Services?
If you do not deliver your inventory to Amazon according to their requirements, you run the risk of your products being rejected and returned to you. That’s why FBA Prep Services can be so valuable! FBA Prep Services are third-party warehouses, packaging facilities, and fulfillment centers that can take your inventory and package it properly for FBA before shipping it off to Amazon. While FBA takes care of final storage and last-mile delivery, these prep services act as a bridge between your own facility and Amazon’s warehouses, guaranteeing a smooth journey for your inventory from start to finish.
Six Types of FBA Prep Services
Different FBA Prep Service providers will offer more or less support, so it’s important to determine exactly what you need before choosing the right one for your needs. Here are seven different prep services to look for when choosing a warehouse or fulfillment center to prepare your products and send them to Amazon:
While Amazon does store your inventory until a purchase is made, they do so with the products that are ready (or nearly ready) to ship. You will also have limited storage space with Amazon and may have to pay high prices for space in their coveted warehouses.
Many warehouses and fulfillment centers offering FBA prep will also store your products after preparing them, giving you access to even better-priced shelf space for buffer stock. This allows you to prepare more product and always have it on the move, reducing the risk of running out of stock with your Amazon inventory.
While your products likely will already have some branded packaging, they will require further labeling before sending off to Amazon. For example, bundles of multiple products need to be packaged together and labeled as a set to ensure the right amount is shipped to customers by Amazon.
Some FBA prep services may do this with labels that market their own branding, but others—like Smart Replenishment—can do so with custom labeling that puts your brand at the forefront.
Many of Amazon’s FBA rules focus on proper packaging, which varies widely depending on what you are selling. For example, liquids and creams must be packaged differently depending on the type of container the liquid or cream is held in, and they need to be able to pass a “drop test.” Baby products need to be packaged in transparent seal bags or shrink wrap, and marked with a suffocation warning label.
4. Shipping and Returns
Once products are prepared according to Amazon’s FBA requirements, prep services will ship them to Amazon’s warehouse. The best FBA services should keep high visibility of your product throughout this replenishment process, guaranteeing you know exactly where your inventory is all the way until it is in Amazon’s hands (at which point Amazon should provide everything sellers need to keep track of their inventory).
FBA prep services should be well-versed in the right way to package any type of product to meet Amazon’s standards, and they’ll usually pay the price if an item is sent back due to incorrect packing.
5. Inspection and Quality Control
To reduce the risk of damaged or faulty products making their way into the customer’s hands, one helpful FBA prep service is inspecting products before packing and shipping them. This gives you the peace of mind of greater oversight so that your customers can reliably receive only the best quality products from your brand.
6. Specialized Handling and Packaging
Not only should FBA prep services understand how Amazon requires certain items to be packaged, they should also have the facilities and means to handle specialty handling and packaging needs. For example, if you are in the food and beverage industry, you likely require some amount of cold storage and packaging that properly insulates your products. While operating on the cold chain with FBA can be tricky, the right fulfillment center should make this a non-issue.
The Best Solution for FBA Prep: A Third-party Logistics Provider
While many warehouses offer FBA prep services, the best approach is working with a third-party logistics provider that is able to support your business with all seven types of FBA prep. Smart Warehousing offers everything from warehousing to fulfillment, including picking, packing, and shipping your products to FBA warehouses. Get started with us to make your FBA preparation stress a thing of the past!