The entrepreneur in me loves the product research and sourcing phase of selling on Amazon FBA. It's like going prospecting for gold. The thrill of finding a shiny nugget that I know will sell like crazy is like no other.
But once you've found your product and you've bought a bunch to start selling, it's a whole other ballgame when it comes time to ship your items in to Amazon FBA so they can actually be sold!
But like any business, there's the good and the bad. And while Amazon can sometimes seem complicated, once you do things a couple of times it becomes a lot easier to sell on Amazon.
In this article, we'll walk through the entire process involved in shipping products in to Amazon FBA and in particular, the new Send to Amazon workflow.
We'll discuss what you need to do before you start shipping, how to pack your products, and how to prepare them for shipment.
Shipping Your FBA Inventory to an Amazon Warehouse
If you're new to Amazon FBA, shipping your inventory to an Amazon warehouse for the first time can be a bit daunting, but we'll make it easy for you.
Before we go through the actual steps involved, you will need to make sure you've created your Amazon seller account and setup FBA in your account. There's more on that in my Amazon FBA guide if you need help in that area.
We'll dive into each step in detail later in this article, but here's an outline of the steps involved in shipping to Amazon:
1. Gather your products and packaging materials. You will need to have your products, packing slips, and other required documentation ready before you begin shipping.
2. Pack your products securely. Make sure that your products are well-protected and securely packed to avoid damage during transit.
3. Print out your labels. You will need to print out Amazon Shipping Labels and attach them to your packages.
4. Schedule a pickup with a carrier. Once your packages are ready, you will need to schedule a pickup with a carrier such as UPS.
5. Track your shipment. Keep an eye on your shipment until it arrives at the Amazon warehouse.
Now let's zoom in and take a closer look at these steps in greater detail.
Amazon FBA Packaging Requirements
When you're packing products for Amazon FBA, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, you want to make sure that your products are well-protected against damage during shipping and handling.
Second, you need to use the correct packaging materials and labeling so that your products arrive at the Amazon warehouse safely and can be properly processed, without delays.
Here are a few tips on how to pack products for Amazon FBA:
1. Use strong boxes. Make sure that your boxes are made of sturdy material that can withstand being jostled around, tossed into and out of trucks, and maybe even used as a seat for a weary delivery driver during transit.
2. Use bubble wrap when needed. Wrap fragile items in bubble wrap to protect them from breakage.
3. Use packing tape. Securely seal all of your boxes with packing tape to keep them from opening during transit.
4. Label your packages. Make sure that each package is labeled with the correct Amazon Shipping Label so that it can be properly processed at the warehouse.
5. Include a packing slip. Be sure to include a packing slip in each box so that Amazon knows what products are inside. Packing slips are not a requirement but it can be helpful to use them.
Now that you know how to pack your products, let's take a look at how to send your inventory to Amazon FBA.
What is "Send to Amazon"?
Because this is the most up-to-date article on how to ship to Amazon FBA, we're going to review the new Send to Amazon feature.
The best option for sending inventory to Amazon FBA is to use the Send to Amazon feature in your Amazon seller central account but if you're on the fence, you can still send inventory through Amazon Marketplace Web Service (MWS) or the Selling Partner API.
Send to Amazon is a streamlined, three step workflow that's designed to help you replenish your FBA inventory in less steps than the previous method.
There's a number of benefits when it comes to using the new Send to Amazon workflow according to Amazon, the most notable being:
You Can Create Reusable "Case Pack" Templates
If you're using the same box content information, box sizes, weights, dimensions, and label details then these case pack templates are handy. They will save you a bunch of time because you don't have to re-enter the same information when its time to replenish your inventory.
Pack Single-SKU and Mixed-SKU Boxes in the Same Workflow
Being able to pack single-SKU and mixed-SKU boxes before you create shipments, in the same workflow, is a convenient and welcomed change. With this new feature you can update quantities as you pack, before you confirm your shipment destination info.
No More General Box Labels
The new box labels with Send to Amazon have the ASIN in addition to the SKU, so your labeling life should be a little easier now!
New Shipment Options
Compare Estimated Carrier Fees
To help you decide which will be the best option between individual boxes or pallets, Send to Amazon allows you to compare the estimated carrier fees.
How to Use Send to Amazon to Ship Products to FBA
Hopefully now you're well acquainted with the new Send to Amazon workflow and you're ready to use it! No one likes change but I'm confident that this new way will make our lives easier.
In order to get to the Send to Amazon screen in your seller central account, you need to go to the Shipments dropdown and you'll see it there.
Here's how to ship products to Amazon FBA using the new Send to Amazon feature:
Step 1: Choose the Inventory You Want to Send to Amazon FBA
You have two options here, the first being to select your SKU from your list of available FBA products or you can upload in bulk using a template file. To do this, you need to select File Upload.
During this step you may want to opt to pack individual units into a mixed-SKU box, so make sure you check out the specifics for that method in seller central.
It's also important that your Ship From address is entered at this point, and you can also setup your case pack templates that I previously discussed.
Step 2: Review and Confirm Shipping
You may notice that your inventory is being routed to numerous, different Amazon fulfillment centers. This is decided by Amazon based on your location and the type of products that you are sending in.
If you want to send everything to one single fulfillment center then you should consider the FBA Inventory Placement Service. Just know that using Inventory Placement is not a guarantee that everything will go to one place but all of the same SKU will. It can be a little confusing.
Step 3: Print Box Labels
At this point in the Send to Amazon workflow, you've chosen the inventory you're going to send and you've confirmed the shipment details.
Now you can print labels for your boxes.
It's very important that every box you ship to Amazon FBA is labeled correctly, otherwise you'll experience issues and delays.
If you are using a partnered carrier then there is automatic tracking and you don't need to update the tracking inside your Amazon account.
If you opt to use a non-partnered carrier then you will need provide the tracking IDs for your boxes inside the tracking details section of Send to Amazon.
Technically speaking, the Send to Amazon workflow is now complete however, there may be some minor additional tasks depending on various factors outlined below.
Step 4: Confirm Carrier and Pallet Information
If you've opted to send you inventory in pallet shipments then the Send to Amazon workflow will automatically ask you to confirm your carrier and pallet info.
This step is for pallet shipments only.
Step 5: Print Your Pallet Labels
If you are using an Amazon partnered carrier then this step is relevant to you. Inside your Send to Amazon workflow you will need to select your pallet label type and then print your labels.
These labels need to be placed on all four sides of your pallet so they are easily visible.
A bill of lading (BOL) will also be provided to you, which will be generated on the morning of the date your pallet is due to be picked up. You'll need to provide this to your carrier.
If you want to go deeper into the specifics of any of the above steps, I recommend you take a look at the Seller Central tutorial for Send to Amazon. Each step has a video and you can explore related topics, which may or may not be relevant to your situation.
Send to Amazon - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I View my Send to Amazon Workflow?
A: Yes you can. You just need to go into your shipping queue section of your seller central account, then you can find the shipment name from the list of shipments.
Q: How Do I Rename my Send to Amazon Workflow?
A: At the time of writing this article, you can't actually rename your Send to Amazon workflow sadly. It is a new feature though so in due course, hopefully the ability to rename your workflow will be added.
Q: How Long Does It Take Amazon to Process an FBA Shipment?
A: Once your shipment arrives at the Amazon FBA warehouse/s, Amazon normally takes around 2-6 days to process your shipment. This time may blow-out during busy selling periods.
Q: Can't I Just Fulfil Items Myself and Save all this Hassle?
A: Of course you can, but selling on Amazon is a much better business model if you are part of the Amazon FBA program. Not only will it make you eligible to win the Amazon buy box, but you'll also be able to take advantage of Amazon Prime (over 150mil in the US alone use Prime). To read more about what's involved in the Fulfillment by Amazon program, take a look at this Amazon FBA Guide that I wrote.
Alternatives to Packing and Shipping to Amazon Yourself
This topic gets raised a lot. Time is money and I've always been a firm believer that my time is better off spent sourcing new products to sell. That's where the money is made. And that's also why we use FBA instead of doing Fulfilled by Merchant, right?
Unless my partner or a family member is knowledgeable enough, and willing, to carry out the whole packaging and shipping process for fulfillment by Amazon, I usually find it better to use an Amazon FBA prep service. A lot of Amazon sellers do this now, for a very good reason!
Imagine buying new products online, or getting low cost Amazon return pallets from a liquidation seller, and having it shipped directly to a prep service. Completely hands-off!
Sure, using a third party to do the packing and prepping is an additional cost. But if you're into online arbitrage, using an Amazon FBA prep centre is going to make this a truly "hands-off" business. You just need to factor in the additional cost.
Don't forget to factor in the sales tax savings you may be able to obtain using a prep center in a tax free state and the time you will "buy" back.
The Final Word on Shipping to Amazon FBA
Even though some of this Send to Amazon workflow stuff is pretty new to me, I hope this guide has given you a good overview and understanding of what's involved in shipping to Amazon FBA.
Remember, the key is to take your time and make sure every shipment is packed and labeled correctly. If you do that then everything else will fall into place.
I really try to stay positive about changes that come from Amazon. I know there has been a lot of complaints about this new feature and only time will tell if it is an overall good thing for sellers or not. I'm sure there will be some teething problems but in the long run I'm confident it will be a good change.
Thanks again for reading, until next time!