Fulfillment by Amazon: The Answers to the Most Commonly Asked Shipping Label Questions

With all of the work that goes into leveraging FBA, labels can often seem back-of-mind. But, properly labeling your packages can save you massive headaches — both with Amazon and within your own stock-keeping solution.

Today, let's answer some of the most pertinent questions surrounding FBA labels. Some of this may seem redundant to you if you've been utilising FBA for a while — though there are certainly some answers in here that will help the experts out there. But, we're going to approach this from a beginners viewpoint to help those of you out who are new to FBA.

These questions were garnered from the /r/fulfillmentbyamazon subreddit and our customers, who often reach out to us for advice and information regarding labeling. We hope this helps some of you beginners quickly access the answers to those basic questions — as well as provide some critical information for some of the seasoned vets out there.

Let's dive in!

What is an Amazon shipping label?

While shipping labels may seem like an insignificant part of your overall eCommerce strategy, they are vital towards the inventory health of your products. Its basic function is to provide identification — both internally and externally — to your products and packages.

What's included on an Amazon label?

The most basic Amazon FBA label includes 3 distinct items.

  1. Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit (FNSKU) 
  2. Product Name
  3. Product Condition

Let's go over each item and their unique purpose.

What is the FNSKU?

The fulfillment stock keeping unit is a number that Amazon uses to track and process your packages from their warehouse. This will appear as a barcode on your products. You can think of the FNSKU as a personal barcode for your items. Since UPC or ASIN codes are unique to a product — not a business — they aren't sufficient to track purchases across all of Amazon's warehouses. FNSKUs, on the other hand, can ensure that Amazon can track your brand's products.

Note: You will only need one FNSKU code for each product. So, if you only ship one specific product, you will use the same FNSKU code on every one of those products.

What is the Product Name?

Not to be too on the nose, but the product name will simply be your product's name. Since many of you will have lengthy product names, the actual "product name" section on your label will likely be shortened anyway.

What happens if I change my product name at any point? Do I need new labels for my older products?

Yes. But, you don't need to go back and change your previous inventory. The official response from Amazon on the issues was this:

"Regarding the product titles on your labels, it is recommended that going forward you use the new labels for your product however it is not required to relabel your older inventory as long as the product has the appropriate FNSKU labels." - Glenn S, Amazon Seller Central Moderator

What is the Product Condition?

When you sell your product on Amazon, you will list it under the following conditions.

  • New
  • Renewed
  • Rental
  • Used (Like New/Open Box)
  • Used (Very Good)
  • Used (Good)
  • Used (Acceptable)

The condition of your product will be present on the label.


Amazon needs those labels to select the right merchandise for customers. So, if you see used phones, for example, they will need to know which quality to ship to the customer.

What is a UPC?

You do not need to put a UPC on the normal FBA label. But, if your product does not come with a barcode, you will need to put a separate label on your product that has a UPC.

The label itself will actually cover the UPC (more on this later). So, you would need two labels in this case.

What is an SKU?

Unlike the FNSKU, which is used by Amazon to fulfill orders, an SKU is used for your own internal product stock-keeping needs. The SKU can help you keep track of all of your merchandise to prevent losses and minimize risk. Many businesses choose to put an SKU code on their products to assist them in handling merchandise effectively. While SKUs are not required by Amazon, they are beneficial in your day-to-day operations.

Should I print my own labels or pay Amazon to print them for me?

It's almost always better to print the labels yourself as opposed to paying Amazon to print them for you. Amazon will charge you $0.20 per label. The cost of purchasing a printer plus the cost of labels will most often cost you far less than $0.20 per label. The only situation where using Amazon's labeling service makes sense (economically speaking) is for extremely low-volume, high-cost units.

So, if it's cheaper to print your own labels, what do you need?

What kind of equipment will I need to print my own labels?

In order to begin printing your own FBA labels, you need three main things.

  1. A printer: These come in all shapes-and-sizes, so it's important to do a little research before you pull the trigger and purchase one. We'll go over some of our favorite options in a moment.
  2. Software: While your printer will likely come with its own software set, it may be a good idea to invest in some software that helps you increase your time-to-value by reducing some of the inefficiencies baked into Amazon's complex, and often slow label printing process.
  3. Labels: Of course, you'll also need the labels themselves. There are a variety of labels materials and label sizes that you can use. But, you must use a label size between 1-inch x 2-inch and 2-inch x 3-inch.

What type of printer should I purchase?

For the purposes of this post, we're going to focus on thermal printers. Almost all labels are printed using thermal printers since, unlike inkjet printers, the print doesn't smudge — which is critical for shipping labels. It's also important to note that thermal printers are cheaper in the long run since they don't utilise ink consumables.

Fan-fold labels vs. Roll labels. Which one should you use?

The two most common label media that you'll run into are fan-fold and roll labels. Fan-fold labels stack on top of each other, which can save room and space. Roll labels come rolled together.

Honestly, there really isn't a right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing one of these label setups. You're probably going to be stuck with one-or-the-other depending upon the printer you purchased. But, since each has some pros and cons, it could impact your printer purchasing decision.

Not every printer makes you choose between them. For example, the Zebra LP2844 can use both types (you can feed fan-folds through the hole in the back) — though most suppliers tend to sell roll labels.

But, you'll run into printers that only let you use one-or-the-other. For example, the Dymo LabelWriter 450 and 4XL only use label rolls (there's no back feed slot for fan-folds). Most printers have a slot for label rolls. You can usually tell if they're going to be fan-fold compatible by the back-end of the printer. If it has a feed slot (a gap), you can probably use fan-folds.

Let's go over the pros and cons of each.

Fan-fold Pros

  • They save space
  • They don't require winders and unwinders
  • Often cheaper per label
  • Smaller label footprint

Fan-fold Cons

  • They can get stuck together via the label glue itself or static electricity
  • More prone to getting bent or crumpled — which means it's printer jam time

Roll Pros

  • Almost never get stuck together
  • Usable in almost every printer
  • Tons of options available

Roll Cons

  • Require winders and unwinders
  • Larger label footprint

What are the best thermal printers?

There are tons of thermal printers on the market, and finding the right one can be difficult. We have our own personal suggestions that you can check out here.

Where do I put the label on the product?

After you choose a printer, download your product FNSKU through your Manage Inventory page, and select your favorite labels, it's time to print out your labels and place them on your product. But, where do you put them?

Here are some ground rules.

  1. Always cover visible barcodes: If your product has a visible barcode other than the serial number barcodes, you need to cover them with the label. This means that the placement is already pre-dictated for you if such barcodes exist on your product.
  2. On a flat surface: Don't place the barcode on any corners or curves.
  3. Somewhere noticeable: Remember, the Amazon warehouse uses these barcodes to fulfill orders. Don't place them in strange spots like the inside of prep materials or inside of a book cover.

Other Labels

While your primary Amazon FBA label will have those three key ingredients (i.e., FNSKU, product name, and product condition), you may require additional labels depending upon the type of merchandise you are shipping. Here are some example labels that you may end up needing.

Expiration Date

Amazon FBA will accept products with expiration dates as long as they are at least 90 days from expiration from the time that Amazon receives them.

For Amazon to accept these products both the product itself and the packaging must display a clear, visible expiration date.

When it comes to the product, Amazon isn't terribly picky. Their only requirement is that it's "human readable." But, the package must also carry an expiration data label with a 36-point font or larger. Also, these units can't have a manufacturers date as well as an expiration date — since it could cause warehouse confusion.

Note: All expiration dates must use either MM-DD-YYY or MM-YYYY format.

Sold as Set

If you're selling merchandise that is separate — but needs to ship together — you need to label each piece as a set. For example, a collection of boxes that make up a piece of furniture will need the sold-as-set label. First, shrinkwrap all of the merchandise that is being sold. Then, place a label that displays the words "Sold as set," "Ready to ship," or "This is a set" on an easily visible area of the shrinkwrap.

Suffocation Warning

If your merchandise is polybagged with a 5-inch or larger opening, you must put a suffocation warning label on it. We recommend putting it on all polybagged merchandise to be safe.

Here are the minimum font sizes required by Amazon.

  • Packages less than 29-inches require a 10-point font.
  • Packages between 30 and 39 inches require a 14-point font.
  • Packages between 40 and 59 inches require an 18-point font.
  • Packages larger than 59 inches require a 24-point font.

Team Lift and Mech Lift

If your product is heavier than 50 lbs, you must put a "team lift" label on the product for worker safety. If your product is more than 100 lbs, you need to place a "mech lift" label.

What software should you use for labeling?

Printing FNSKU and SKU units directly from Amazon can be a hassle. With AZLabels, we can streamline your labeling process by providing rapid access to your labels when you need them most. And, with the AZLabels browser extension, you can quickly choose-and-print labels at any time.

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