Tips for Successfully Sending Product to Amazon FBA Warehouses

Written by: | October 9, 2018 | 2 responses

Amazon continues to create programs for Indie Beauty brands and many consumers go to Amazon before anywhere else to shop.  So if being part of the Amazon marketplace is part of your go-to-market strategy, we’re here to help as best we can.

We can provide you with the documentation Amazon requests to un-gate your products including our FDA registration number, a Certificate of Analysis or a Safety Data Sheet.  Other documentation may be available, so please ask.

Once you’ve been ungated and are ready to sell, you’ll need to get your inventory to Amazon.

This article continues our series on working with Amazon’s FBA program.  While we are NOT Amazon experts, we do work with many customers who sell through FBA and we do have resources in the team who focus on Amazon and Indie Beauty.  We have pulled the following information from the Amazon Seller Central copy and also inserted information gathered from our clients.  WE STRONGLY URGE YOU to not rely solely on this article. Amazon rules and regulations change frequently and while we will do our best to stay abreast of them, you’ll want to rely on Amazon Seller Central for your final information.

How you can work with EWL and sell on Amazon

Just to recap other blog posts, there are three ways you can work with EWL for products you can sell on Amazon.

  1. You can have us manufacture and fill for you, either one of our stock products or a custom formulation. We’ll fill the product into your packaging and label with your labels. This is done through our private label group.  We can also kit them for shipment to Amazon, including applying the stickers and getting them ready for pickup.
  2. You can purchase Ready to Label products and label and kit them yourself and send to Amazon.
  3. You can purchase ingredients and bulk product from us and make your own products.  The documentation you need is a little different and we can help you with that if needed.

Okay. Here’s our summary about how to ship your products to Amazon.

Selling through FBA

Selling through the Amazon Marketplace most likely means you’ll be selling through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Sending your inventory to the Amazon Fulfillment Centers can be tricky with lots of little details to get right. There is a long list of requirements to ensure that your products can be properly and efficiently processed once they arrive at the Amazon warehouse.  The warehouses are fully automated and this means they need a consistent and repeatable experience for all incoming packages. If you fail to meet certain requirements, you may end up paying additional fees, having your inventory stalled for sale, or even returned. We have outlined some of the most important details you will want to check off before sending your valuable inventory on its journey to Amazon.

Let’s start with the box. No matter what the product you are sending, it will ship to Amazon in a box. Amazon has specifications on the kind of box, the size of the box, and weight of box (including your products) they will accept into their warehouses. Amazon also has set specifications on the information they require to be on those boxes, and what packing materials are permitted inside the box.

Boxes and box contents must be packaged in such a way that the contents arrive safely and intact at the fulfillment center. The following requirements apply to ALL boxes that are shipped to Amazon fulfillment centers, from small parcel delivery to full truckload shipping, and everything in-between.

Approved Boxes:

  • Regular slotted carton (RSC)
  • B flute
  • ECT-32 (edge crush test)
  • 200BH (burst strength)

Amazon does NOT allow you to ship in the retail box — it must be inside a shipping box — nor pallet-sized boxes, which is not something you’ll likely encounter when sending in beauty products. They will also reject boxes bundled together using bagging, taping, elastic, or extra straps.

If you use Essential’s private label/contract manufacturing services, when we fill your boxes, we follow these guidelines. If you buy our bulk and fill yourself, you’ll want to be sure you’re purchasing the right boxes and preparing them for shipment within these guidelines provided by Amazon at Seller Central.

Box Content Information:

Each box in a shipment requires an Amazon shipment label in addition to the carrier label. You can create box content information through your Seller Central as you create a shipment, or you can apply a 2D barcode with the box content information to each box.

Box Dimensions:

Boxes containing multiple standard-size items must not exceed 25″ on any side. A box may only exceed the 25″ limit if it contains oversize units that measure longer than 25″.

Box Weight:

Boxes must not exceed the standard weight limit of 50 lb. unless they contain one single oversized item that exceeds 50 lb. If you are using an Amazon-partnered carrier, make sure that you accurately weigh and measure each box and each pallet to ensure that the correct values are supplied for every shipment.  You’ll ask us to provide you with ‘dims and weights’ which is shorthand for the box/pallet dimension and its weight.

Approved packing materials include:

  • Foam sheets or cushioning (EWL will use this or Dunnage)
  • Air pillows
  • Bubble wrap
  • Full sheets of paper/Dunnage (EWL will use this or foam sheets)

Amazon does NOT allow the use of shredded paper, packaging peanuts (even those made of biodegradable material), thermocol chips, or crinkle wrap. It is also important to note that Amazon will not accept marketing materials such as pre-priced labels, pamphlets, price tags, or other non-Amazon labels.

Now, let’s talk about your actual inventory.

Your products should be e-commerce ready when they arrive at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. This means your products are correctly prepped, labeled, and packed for safe and secure shipping not only to the fulfillment center but also to the end customer. Amazon’s receiving systems and catalogs are barcode driven and each unit will need an Amazon product label so they can associate it with your seller account. Each unit must have an exterior scannable barcode or label that is easily accessible. You have two options for labeling your products:

  • Print and apply Amazon labels yourself
  • Use the FBA label service

For cosmetic and other beauty and personal care products, there are several packaging scenarios that have different requirements. We will be covering some of the requirements for products that are sold as sets, sold in poly-bags, case packed, containing liquids, and containing powders or granules.

Sold as Set:

Units that are sold as sets must be marked as such on their packaging. Add a label to the unit that clearly states that the products are to be received AND sold as a single unit. For example, “Sold as set”, “Ready to Ship”, or “This is a set. Do not separate.”

Poly-Bagged Units:

From Amazon:

Polybags used to protect units must meet the following requirements:

  • Poly bags with a 5-inch opening or larger (measured when flat) are required to have a suffocation warning, either printed on the bag itself or attached as a label.
    • The warning should be printed or placed in a prominent location and in a legible font size for the size of the bag.
  • The thickness of the bag must be at least 1.5 mil (thousandth of an inch).
  • The polybag must be transparent.
  • The polybag must have a barcode (UPC, EAN, etc.) or X00-label that is scannable through the bag or have an X00-label or ASIN-label on the outside of the bag.
  • Poly bags must be completely sealed.
  • Polybag or shrink wrap must not protrude more than 3″ past the dimensions of the product.

Case-Packed:

If you plan to send a mix of products and sizes, they would be considered individual items. If all the items in the case have the same SKU, then each box is uniformly packaged with equal quantities, then those products would be considered case packed.  To recap, a case-pack is appropriate when:

  • All products in a box have the same SKU number indicating they are the same product, in the same size, for the same price, and in the same condition.
  • All boxes of the same SKU contain equal quantities of that product in each box. For example, a case-pack of 24 units must always contain 24 units.
  • The case pack limit is 150 units per case.
  • A case pack fits into a Master Pack Box at 4, 6 or 8 units – or similar.

While receiving this type of shipment, the fulfillment center scans one unit from the case pack box and the case pack box is placed in inventory. There is no need to scan every unit because they are all the same. If you put more than one case pack in a larger box — called a master carton — they do not qualify as case packs; the master cartons must be split at the appropriate case-pack level before being sent to Amazon.

If you have EWL fill, label, and kit for Amazon, EWL can pack into case packs and master packs, but you will need to provide them as they are usually custom made to fit your packaging needs.

Packing Products Containing Liquids:

Products containing liquids require a double seal, including viscous products (such as heavy creams), and must be packaged securely. There are other guidelines specifically for glass bottles so please refer to the Amazon Seller Central pages for that information as it may change more frequently than the information here.

Some of these requirements are:

  • A double seal is defined as a tightened lid that cannot be easily opened and one of the following:
    • A “safety seal” which is a peel-off seal underneath the lid of a product, like you would find on a new ketchup bottle.
      • Example: Induction or pressure seals – note that many lids have liners and these are NOT pressure seals. Confer with your packaging company.  Also, if your product is a scrub or contains a high percentage of essential oils, some seals will not hold.
    • A manufactured seal around the outside of the neck of the product.
      • Example: Shrinkband or shrink dome

Products that do not have a manufactured double seal in one of the ways above must be individually bagged in transparent sealed bags or shrink wrap (minimum of 1.5 mil.) and clearly marked with a suffocation warning label if needed.  EWL does not provide polybags with suffocation warnings so if you need them, you’ll be asked to provide the bag or the warning label as a sticker.

You can search for the Packaging Guidelines in your Seller Central for a full list of requirements.

Permitted Packaging Materials:

  • Boxes
  • Polybags or shrinkwrap (for all liquids over 4 oz. that do not have a double seal or safety seal)
  • Bubble wrap and other approved packing material for shipping to Amazon fulfillment centers
  • Labels

For more detailed information on liquid requirements, please search Packaging Products Containing Liquids in your Seller Central.

Powders and Granular Products:

All powder or granular substances must be able to withstand a 3-foot drop test from inside their packaging without breaking and without the contents of the container leaking or spilling. Products that cannot withstand the drop test must be packaged in polybags with the barcode sticker and the suffocation warning, if applicable.

We hope that this helps clarify some questions you may have had about sending your products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers. We are not Amazon experts and are ourselves in the process of figuring things out. If you have further questions, head over to your Seller Central account and search for Amazon’s Seller University, where you can find a large catalog of free video courses and downloadable PDF files designed to help sellers succeed in meeting Amazons many requirements. You can also use the search bar at the top left corner of your Seller Central homepage to search for specific key terms and phrases such as “packaging glass”, or “packaging small products”. You can also visit the Seller Forums where you will find category-specific topics of conversation amongst other sellers where you can often locate answers to even some of the most difficult questions.

 

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