Amazon is one of the most recognizable brand names in the world. One feature they offer to users is FBA, which stands for Fulfillment by Amazon.
FBA works like this: you send an item you want to sell to Amazon and Amazon stores your products in one of their warehouses, taking care of the packaging and shipping when a purchase is made.
This service offers customers the chance to become retailers without the hassles associated with online selling, and with the added bonus of linking to a company that has a well-known reputation and millions of customers.
As of 2019, Amazon has 2.5 million sellers.
This program involves an abundance of specifications and information, and can leave first time users feeling overwhelmed.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to properly label and package the products you’ll be sending to Amazon as a way to help maneuver through this lengthy process.
FBA Barcodes & Their Requirements
FBA makes it easy for any size business, big or small, to sell their products on Amazon.
However, when fulfilling orders using FBA, you must properly identify the products you are sending. This is because Amazon uses a barcode-driven system to operate, and without a suitable identification system to pinpoint your products, Amazon will be unable to send the right order to the correct customer.
Every item sent to Amazon through FBA requires a barcode.
There are 2 components Amazon requires to identify products:
- Manufacturer/UPC Barcode
- Amazon FNSKU Barcode
If a manufacturer barcode already exists on your product, you may not need to further label your product before sending it to Amazon. Amazon will notify FBA sellers if their product qualifies for this feature when they make a shipment. Amazon will link this item to your account and credit you when a sale is made.
The types of manufacturer barcodes Amazon accepts include:
UPC and EAN barcodes can be found on most retail consumer packages produced in the US and Europe. ISBN or International Standard Book Number is a unique 10-13 digit barcode number identifying a commercial book and can typically be found printed on book covers.
Amazon FNSKU Barcode
If your product is not eligible for a manufacturer barcode or does not have one, Amazon will require FBA sellers to obtain an Amazon barcode, called a FNSKU.
FNSKU stands for Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit and is limited to use by Amazon only.
This alphanumeric barcode is what Amazon uses to track products throughout their warehouse facility and identify them to their specific sellers. This number is unique only to Amazon and makes it possible for sellers to receive credit when their products are sold.
In this instance, you will need to purchase a UPC for your product. When creating a product listing, Amazon will convert the UPC for that specific product into a FNSKU.
If your inventory needs a FNSKU label, there are 2 options available to accomplish this:
Amazon FNSKU Labeling Service
If buying a printer and labeling your inventory is cost prohibitive you can request that Amazon labels your products for you.
Once a shipment has been created under the labeling step, you will be asked “Who Labels” and given the option to choose Amazon.
However, a fee of $.20 will be charged for each unit that is labeled and received through this service.
Label Products Yourself
If Amazon labeling your products is cost-prohibitive, you can choose the ‘Merchant’ option under “Who Labels” after creating a shipment for your products.
Amazon recommends using a printer with a resolution of 300 dpi or greater, offering users a print-ready file that includes laser sheets.
At Smith Corona, we offer a variety of FBA labels that will work in thermal printers and laser inkjet printers.
Formatting Your FNSKU Barcode
Since barcodes are used as Amazon’s identification and inventory system, it is extremely important to meet the necessary requirements Amazon has put into place. Amazon will assign a unique FNSKU to each product as a means of identifying it to the correct seller.
When you create your product listing page, Amazon will convert the product’s UPC barcode into a FNSKU.
There are several elements that an Amazon FNSKU label requires:
- FNSKU number or Registered Unit Barcode
- Name of the product
- The condition of the product (ex: new)
Each individual item needs a scannable barcode.
Amazon barcodes must be printed in black ink and sized between 1-2 inches tall and 2-3 inches wide. They must also be printed on white, non-reflective, and self-adhesive labels.
What is an ASIN?
ASIN is commonly confused with FNSKU, and while they share some similarities, they are not the same.
An ASIN, or Amazon Standard Identification Number, is used to manage and organize all products throughout Amazon. You can find it in the URL of an Amazon product. ASIN is also alphanumeric but this number is assigned to every item that is in the Amazon product catalog.
No item can exist at Amazon without an ASIN as the ASIN represents that specific product everywhere it travels through Amazon.
Once a new product is created in Amazon’s catalog, it receives an ASIN. The product only requires a FNSKU when it is sent to Amazon through the FBA warehouse so it can be identified to a specific seller.
Amazon Barcode Placements
Amazon FNSKU labels must be placed on each individual item being sent to FBA.
To ensure the barcode is easily scannable, avoid placement on curves, corners, or edges. Any products that require additional prep materials, such as multiple layers of packaging, must be labeled on the outermost layer.
This allows labels to be scanned without the removal of the packaging. Be sure to cover all other visible barcodes, and allow for ¼ inch of space between the edge of the label and the edge of the packaging.
- Avoid corners, edges & curves
- Label outermost layer of package
- Cover all visible barcodes
- 1/4 inch of space between label edge and package edge
Proper Product Packaging
When using Amazon FBA, your products need to be sent e-Commerce ready, meaning the items are prepped, labeled, and properly packaged. This is so they can be received accurately and made available for sale as fast as possible, ensuring your products reach customers in the best possible condition.
If your products are not properly packaged when they arrive at a Fulfillment Center, Amazon will have to perform their own prep services at a higher fee than the planned prep service they initially offer FBA users.
When creating a shipment, click “Prepare Instructions” in the “Send/Replenish Inventory” category. Depending on the product, Amazon may offer prep instructions or prep guidance, whichever is appropriate for the products you are shipping. Some of these items include sharp objects, powders, liquids, baby products, and apparel.
The most common issues seen with pre-prep come with products packed using poly bagging, bubble wrap, and tape.
Poly bagging protects items from:
If using poly bagging to prep your products, make sure it is:
- At least 1 millimeter thick
- Completely sealed
Bubble wrapping is necessary for fragile and sharp products, such as glass, ceramic, or objects with pointed edges. Bubble wrapping protects items from:
If using bubble wrapping to prep your products, make sure it:
- Properly covers and seals your item
- Does not cover or block the barcode label
All prepped products must be taped and sealed accordingly:
- Boxes taped by the seams
- Poly bags with no adhesive seal shut closed with tape
- Bubble wrap taped well enough to secure item within bubble wrap
Individual Items vs. Case-Packed Products
When shipping your products, users must determine if they will be Individually Packaged or Case-Packaged.
If you are shipping a variety of products in different sizes and conditions, they would be considered “Individual Items.” Each box is able to contain 1 or more products of varying conditions or quantities.
For “Case-Packed,” all of the items will be in the same condition with matching SKU numbers. Each box must be uniformly packaged with equal quantities of the same product, and each item must be individually prepped for this option.
Instructions & Warning Labels
Depending on the products you’re shipping to Amazon, some additional labeling may be required. These labels help give further instructions or attention to Amazon associates during the fulfillment process and to customers when they receive their product. Some of these labels include:
This warning label is necessary to protect customers. Any poly-bagged products with a 5-inch opening (when measured flat) or larger must be marked with this label if the manufacturer has not already done so. Depending on the bag length and width there is a minimum font size requirement for the label.
Handle With Care
Be sure to label any breakable or fragile products, such as glass or ceramic, with this kind of label to notify both warehouse personnel and customers of its contents.
Our Handle with Care pre-printed labels offer a quick and easy solution.
Lithium Battery Label
Due to the materials used in lithium batteries, any package containing them must be marked with a battery label. If damaged or exposed to heat, batteries can ignite. Because of this they are subject to specific transportation requirements. These regulations apply to batteries that are:
- Lithium metal
- Lithium-ion polymer
Each unit sent to Amazon must be contained in a single, secure package. Amazon will not accept any items that would require them to assemble multiple pieces. If items are packaged in loose sleeves or pouches, they must be secured in a bag with the barcode label placed on the outside of the packaging. The barcode must be scannable without the packaging being opened.
Amazon accepts date sensitive products only if the remaining shelf-life is more than 90 days from the date the item is received at the warehouse. The expiration date must be visible on the package in the following format: MM/DD/YYYY; if the day of the month is unavailable, it can be omitted so the format will read: MM/YYYY. Amazon will not accept perishable items.
The expiration date must be printed on each individual item and on the outermost packaging in a font size of 36-point or larger. For items that require additional prep, such as poly-bagging or bubble wrap, the expiration date label must be visible on the outermost layer of the package along with the Amazon barcode. Without this information, your products can be delayed during the receiving process.
If items are shipped incomplete or missing labels, the receiving process by which Amazon acquires your order will be delayed, slowing down their ability to inventory your items and, ultimately, make them available for sale. Below are some of the most common errors made with FBA:
- Barcode Label Missing
- Mislabeled Products
- Unreadable Barcode
- Product/Shipment Preparation Errors
- Wrong Items/Wrong Warehouse
Wrapping Things Up!
Looking at all of the information, regulations, and requirements we’ve discussed, Fulfillment by Amazon can seem like a daunting process.
But hopefully this article gives you a better understanding and leaves you feeling more confident to begin selling your products!