Ultimate Guide to Amazon Packaging: Prepping Amazon Products for Shipment
Find the ultimate guide to master Amazon packaging and start shipping products with Amazon FBA! Start your own business and earn income with Amazon!
For some sellers, packaging and prepping your products before sending them to Amazon FBA centers can be one of the most tedious and stressful processes of Amazon selling. Each and every item has different packaging requirements, must be wrapped, and then will be individually labeled one at a time. Although this process can take up a ton of time and resources, there are ways to make this process a lot simpler and can reduce the stress of Amazon packaging,
With this ultimate guide, not only will you learn how to package and prep your products, but you'll also learn some tricks to reduce the packaging time and save you money!
Inventory Management System
To maximize your packaging efficiency, it is important to understand how Amazon Fulfillment Centers work. We covered this in high detail in our 2021 Guide to Amazon Fulfillment Centers blog, but here is a quick rundown:
Amazon's centers have optimized their inventory management systems by implementing strict packaging and labeling requirements. Every product that enters an Amazon FBA center is securely packaged and clearly labeled. When a product enters a center, the barcodes are quickly scanned and the products are neatly stored in their warehouses. When an order is put in, Amazon knows exactly where the item is because of their label/barcode-based system, handpicks the item from the warehouse, and then ships it out to the buyer.
Sellers need to understand this process to package, label, and prep their products to fit Amazon's system. If sellers don't follow these rules, it interferes with Amazon's structured eco-system which could lead to missing inventory or possible fees charged to the seller.
What is SKU?
Now that you know how Amazon centers work, you have to learn about managing your products before you can package and ship your products. Each item in your inventory must be assigned a SKU or "stock keeping unit." SKUs are important for both the sellers and for Amazon to keep track of inventory and package your products. Each type of product in your inventory needs a unique SKU. Even if it’s the same product, if that product has different variants (colors, sizes, condition), each variant requires its own SKU.
For example, if you sell a watch, but you sell 10 different colors of that watch, you will need 10 different SKUs for each product. These SKUs may need different packaging types and will need different labels when prepping and shipping to Amazon's centers.
Prepping Your Amazon Packages
Before you start packaging your products, it’s important to note that each item should be packaged and labeled before you send it off. If a product gets shipped out before it is ready, Amazon sellers can receive penalities or seller fees because Amazon will need to package and prep the items for you. This is known as the Unplanned service fees, where Amazon will package or repackage your items if they do not meet their requirements. Sellers can then incur these penalty fees as a service charge for Amazon's preparation service. Sellers need to take their time inspecting product packaging before anything is sent to ensure they do not incur any fees from Amazon.
Types of Products
The initial step in prepping products is determining the optimal packaging type for your products. Each product has different packaging instructions based on the type and form of the item. Amazon has explicit instructions for the following categories:
liquids, gels, pastes
pellets, powders, granular products
glass, ceramic, plexiglass, breakable or fragile products
apparel, clothing, fabric
jewelry or accessories
baby or adult products
Depending on the products that you plan to ship to Amazon, ensure that you carefully ready Amazon's specific guidelines regarding your product category. This may include additional packaging instructions such as added softening like bubble wrap or packaging peanuts as well as extra sturdy and thick packaging boxes. Following these steps is not only important to prevent unplanned service fees, but it also makes the products safer to handle for you, the delivery service, and the Amazon workers who will handle the products at the Fulfillment Center.
For individual instruction plans, please visit Amazon at https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/200141500.
Amazon Box Sizes and Bagging
Once you have packaged individual items based on their particular requirements and SKUs, you can then move onto the next step which is determining how to package these products together. For certain hazardous products, you may need to add another bag, also known as poly bagging. Poly bagging is usually required for potentially dangerous items such as sharp objects as well as potentially hazardous items such as certain liquids or batteries. These bags also need to be labeled with warnings like a suffocation warning. If you do use poly bagging, make sure you can still visibly see the product warning label with large font and transparent packaging if possible.
After you finish bagging your items, you can then move on to boxing your products. Boxing will be primarily determined by the variety of products you plan on shipping. Amazon refers to this process as individual items or case-packed products. If you are shipping multiple product types with different SKUs (different products, different colors, or different conditions), you will be selecting packaging individual items. Within a single box, you may have a variety of different items or possibly the same item but in different colors or conditions. Each item will need to package individually and be clearly labeled.
If you are shipping multiple of the same product with the same SKU, (same product, same color, same condition), this refers to the case-packed products. Case-packed products are limited to 150 units per box and each box (if you are sending multiple) must have the same amount of products for each box. This means if you have 150 products in one box, you will need to have 150 in all other boxes of this particular product. Each item will have to be labeled like with individual items, but the box holding the products must also be clearly labeled with the products information including their product identifier, product name, and product condition.
Amazon Product Weight
Amazon has additional guidelines for units weighing over 10 pounds. If you plan on shipping heavier products, Amazon recommended using extra sturdy, double-wall corrugated boxes to over box your products. Overboxing is also applicable to other hazardous or sensitive products such as sharp products, fragile items, liquids weighing more than 4.2 ounces, and finally vinyl records. Similar to poly bagging, these guidelines are in place to protect the seller, delivery service, and Amazon employees who handle the merchandise.
Amazon has a ton of other requirements for their products ranging from clothes hanger removal to perishable products. For information on individual packaging instructions, we recommend visiting Amazon's website at https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/200141500.
Amazon Barcode Requirements
By this stage, you should have a good understanding of your packaging requirements. But before you can send off the boxes of merchandise, you need to make sure each of your items and boxes is clearly labeled. Looking back at Amazon's inventory management system, barcodes and labels are essential to maximizing Amazon's storing and fulfillment process. In this section, we'll be covering what exactly these labels should include and how you can reduce your prepping time when applying barcodes.
There are two types of labels that sellers need to account for. These are the product labels (labels placed on every product) and shipping labels (labels placed on every box). Both of these labels are required by Amazon to scan, store and fulfill product orders.
Product Name or SKUs
The first we'll be discussing is the product labels.
Product labels need to be included on every single unit of your products and clearly visible. Some products will already have labels provided by the manufacturer. But, if the item needs to be repackaged or required additional packaging that covers the label, you will need to apply another visible on the outside of the packaging. Our recommendation is to add product labels after the items have been packaged. You can save a ton of time by labeling your products after they are packaged instead of having to relabel them again. The label should be securely placed on the outside of the packaging where it is visible and easily accessible for scanning. If you forget even a single label on a single product or if the product label is not visible, you may incur unplanned service fees from Amazon that they charged per unit. The more products you miss, the more you'll be charged by Amazon.
With each product and variant, the labels should include the product name and their SKU. The product name will be provided by the manufacturer or supplier and this name needs to be clearly visible on every label, Along with the product name, there should also be the SKU that was created by the seller. If you even forget a single label on a single product or if the product label is not visible, you may incur unplanned service fees from Amazon that they charge per unit. The more products you miss, the more you'll be charged by Amazon.
UPC, EAN, ISBN, or ASIN
Aside from the product name and SKU, the label should also include a product identifier. We go into detail about product identifiers in our 6 Steps to Add Amazon Product Lists blog, but in general, these product identifiers come in four standard forms such as the UPC (Universal Product Code). EAN (European Article Number), ISBN (International Standard Book Number), or ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). These numbers can be provided by the manufacturer or supplier and will need to be included with the labels. These product identifiers are usually 10 to 13 digit codes that are unique to every product. The product identifier needs to be visible and accessible for Amazon to quickly scan and store at their facilities.
Amazon Product Condition
The product's condition is sometimes included on product labels to differentiate between multiple variants. Some sellers will ship both new and used condition products to an Amazon Fulfillment Center. If this is the case, then the seller will need to include a label with a description of the product's condition. Products of the same condition will use the same SKU identifier, with new condition products using one SKU and used condition products using a different SKU. If multiple SKUs are shipped in the same box (individual item packaging), each item's condition will also be included on the product label.
As with product labels. explicitly labeling the condition will enable Amazon to sort and store these products in separate boxes at their warehouse. When a buyer purchases a product on Amazon, they will be able to select either a new product or a used product. Since Amazon will know where both used and new products are, they can quickly pick out the item and process the shipment shortly after.
The second kind of label sellers may use is the box label.
Like the product labels, these labels need to be easily visible and accessible for Amazon to scan. Unlike product labels, these labels only need to be placed once on every box a seller ships to Amazon. Similar to the product label, the box label must include the same information including the product name, product identifier (UPC, EAN, ISBN, or ASIN), and the product’s condition. If you are shipping multiple SKUs in the same box, the box label may note "MIXED SKUs" to state that it included multiple products or multiple variants.
The one thing that the box labels will have that the product labels will not is the shipping information. With shipping any package with a delivery service, box labels will include the shipping address and delivery address. The label may replace these terms with a "Ship From" and "Ship To" description which should include where the packages are coming from and where the packages will end up.
Whether you're applying the product labels or box labels, make sure to take your time applying every label in a visible location and applying a label to every single packaged product and box.
Amazon's ideal box label example from https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/G200178470?language=en_US
As you can see from this example, it includes all of the required data for box labels. It has the packages shipping information along with the product name/SKUs (in this case, "Mixed SKUs," and the product identifier. Note that this particular example does not have the conditions on the box label since it has multiple SKUs within the box. So the product condition will not be on the box label, but each of the products in the box will have a product label that includes the product condition.
Shipping to Amazon FBA
With that, you are officially a pro at shipping to Amazon FBA! If you followed this article and our other articles on Amazon shipping, you should now know the entire process from Amazon's Fulfillment Center to adding product lists to shipping your products to Amazon to sell. All you need to do now is finding more profitable products to help build your Amazon business and brand!
If you need any assistance with finding new items, tracking your product inventory, or connecting with Amazon suppliers or manufacturers, we got you covered! Head to our website and check out our tips, tricks, and tools to help make more profits and grow your business into an empire! See you at Sellgo!