Fulfillment by Amazon: Your Complete Guide to Using the FBA Service

With our easy to follow guide, we’ll go through the process of using Amazon's Fulfillment by Amazon(FBA) Service step by step, breaking it down into simple sections and helping you take advantage of its many benefits.

Why Use FBA?

Labeling your Products

Packing Your Products for Shipping

Creating a Shipping Plan

Printing the Required Shipping Labels

Wrapping it Up

Why Use FBA?

Before we get into the specifics of how to use the FBA system, let’s look at the benefits of using FBA and how it can help you, the seller, significantly streamline the logistics of storing your products and shipping them to your customers.

Seller Streamlining

By allowing you to take advantage of Amazon's vast logistics network, the FBA service lets you, the seller, ship a larger number of orders faster and more efficiently than you could on your own.

The FBA service does this by allowing sellers to ship products directly to an Amazon fulfillment warehouse. Once your products arrive there, Amazon takes over the task of storing your products and sending them to your customers when you receive an order.

Enhanced Storage and Delivery Options

In essence, FBA allows you to run a home business with the bulk storage and delivery capabilities of the world’s largest company.

Using FBA means you can rely on Amazon to take care of tasks like warehousing, picking, shipping, and delivery while you focus on the more personal side of your business, like product design, customer service, and marketing.

Marking a product as FBA also makes it eligible for Prime Delivery, giving you the option to offer one or two-day delivery options to your customers.

Surprisingly Easy to Use

For all the logistical complexity that FBA represents, using it is remarkably easy and the process can be rendered down into five principal steps:

  • Marking a Product as “Fulfilled by Amazon”
  • Labeling your Products
  • Packing the Products for Shipping
  • Creating a Shipping Plan
  • Printing the Required Shipping Labels

To make it as easy for you to take advantage of the benefits of FBA as possible, we’ll be going through these steps in detail and providing you with easy to use instructions and helpful resources for each step.

Marking a Product as “Fulfilled by Amazon”

The first step to using the FBA system is selecting the products you want to be stored and delivered by Amazon. This can be done in Seller Central and is a reasonably uncomplicated procedure.

All you need to do it follow the steps below:

  • Log into your Seller Central account
  • Once logged in, go to the “Manage Inventory” page
  • From there, select all your current listings that you want to switch to being fulfilled by Amazon
  • Once you’ve selected them all, just click “Actions” and then click on the “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon” option
  • After you’ve selected "Change to Fulfilled by Amazon," you'll be asked if you want to “convert only” or “convert and send inventory.” If you are adding multiple items, select “convert only” until the last item when you should choose "convert and send inventory" to start creating a Shipping Plan.

Setting up which products you want to be Fulfilled by Amazon is as simple as that! Now that you’ve marked your products as being Fulfilled by Amazon, you’ll need to properly label and package them so they can be picked up from you and transported to an Amazon warehouse.

Labeling your Products

This step is optional, but it does come with certain benefits.

If you choose not to label your inventory, Amazon will use the Manufacturer barcode as product identification and place your items into what they refer to as “Commingled Inventory.”

Only certain items are eligible for commingled inventory and they must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be new and unused
  • Must have a single readable UPC, EAN or ISBN barcode matching single ASIN in Amazon catalog
  • Not an expiry-dated product
  • Not a consumable or topical product
  • Not a dangerous good

The benefit of commingled inventory is that it allows Amazon to dispatch products to your customer from the nearest warehouse that contains the right product, potentially speeding up delivery times.

The downside is that having your products added to commingled inventory means there is a potential for your customers to receive goods that are of inferior quality, or possibly counterfeit, that have been sent to the warehouse by other sellers.

If you are happy to have your products added to commingled inventory, and they meet the criteria listed above, you can skip this step.

If you would prefer your products not go into the commingled inventory, you will need to attach a barcode yourself or use the FBA Label service.

Printing Your Own Barcodes

In order to attach your own barcodes to your products, you’ll need to change your default barcode preference. To do this, follow the steps below:

  • In your seller account, under Settings, click on Fulfilment by Amazon
  • Find the FBA Product Barcode Preference option and click Edit
  • Select Enable to use the Manufacturer barcode or Disable to attach your own Amazon barcode
  • Then click Save

Printing and attaching your own barcodes is the most cost-effective method of labeling your products. Still, it is a little more complicated and time-consuming than using FBA Label service or leaving your products in Commingled Inventory.

Thankfully, you can find our full guide to using Amazon barcodes, also known as FNSKUs, HERE, and advice and guidance on how to print those barcodes quickly and cost-effectively HERE.

Using the FBA Label Service

For the cost of $0.20 per label, Amazon will attach the FNSKU barcodes for you. How much benefit you will get from the FBA label service depends on how much inventory you are sending out via FBA.

If you want to see a complete breakdown of the FBA label service, you can check out our article “Should You Use Amazon’s FBA Labeling Service?" for a more detailed cost/benefit analysis.

Packing Your Products for Shipping

Once you're sure you are happy with your product going into commingled inventory, or you've taken the extra step to either label you products yourself or have the FBA Label Service do it for you, you'll need to pack them for transit.

There are two options for packing your shipment, doing it yourself, or using the FBA Prep Service.

Packaging your own product means you’ll have to have to make sure they meet Amazon’s Product Preparation Requirements.

These requirements differ depending on what category your product falls into, with items requiring additional preparation if they fall into the following categories:

  • Fragile
  • Liquid
  • Textiles
  • Plush/Baby
  • Small
  • Adult

To make correctly packaging your own products as straightforward as possible, Amazon has produced extensive packaging guidance.

You can find video preparation guides for each category HERE and a full breakdown of how to prepare your products for FBA shipping, HERE.

If items arrive at the Amazon warehouse incorrectly packaged or labeled, you might incur an FBA Manual Processing Fee.

If you’d rather Amazon packaged your products for you, you can always use the FBA Prep Service.

Using the FBA Prep Service

If you use the FBA prep service, Amazon will repackage your product, as per their Product Preparation Requirements, once it reaches the warehouse. You can find more on the FBA Prep Service fees HERE.

To qualify for the FBA prep service, your products must meet specific minimum qualifications:

  • Must be new and unused
  • Must have a single readable UPC, EAN or ISBN barcode matching single ASIN in Amazon catalog

Even if you do use the FBA prep service, you'll still need to package your products so they will arrive safely at the fulfillment center.

It is your responsibility to make sure that fragile, glass, and sharp items don't get broken and can be safely handled by Amazon's fulfillment center associates.

To enable the FBA Prep Service, select the following option when creating your shipping plan:

  • Select a product that you want Amazon to prep
  • On the Prepare Products page, select “Amazon” in the Who Preps? Field
  • A pop-up window will then ask you, "Are you sure you want to save settings to your Fulfillment by Amazon Settings?"
  • Click Yes

Creating a Shipping Plan

Your shipping plan is the method you’d like to use to ship your product to Amazon. The first step in doing this is picking which carrier to use to transport your goods. Some carriers, primarily UPS and FedEx, offer significant discounts under the Partnered Carrier Programme (PCP).

What Is the Partnered Carrier Programme (PCP)?

The Partnered Carrier Programme is an attempt by Amazon to make its FBA service as streamlined and straightforward as possible. By partnering with UPS and FedEx, the PCP can reduce the costs of shipping goods to an Amazon warehouse by up to 45%.

Using the PCP also means you can enter all your shipment details into Seller Central, and shipments from PCP couriers are processed faster.

How Do I Use the Partnered Carrier Programme?

One of the benefits of using the PCP is that you can add a product to Seller Central, mark it as Fulfilled by Amazon, and then set up shipping to send it to an Amazon warehouse, all in the same place.

To use the Partnered Carrier Programme to ship your products to an Amazon Fulfillment Center, just follow the steps below:

  • Sign in to your Seller Central account
  • Create a new inventory shipment for the inventory you want to the FBA warehouse
  • Build your shipment plan using the tools in your seller account. You can find detailed guidance on how to create and build a shipment HERE
  • Once you got to the “Prepare Shipment” page, choose either “Small Parcel Delivery (SPD)” or “Less Than Truckload (LTL)” for shipments that weigh more than 150 lbs.
  • Select an Amazon-Partnered Carrier, like UPS or FedEx, to use the Partnered Carrier Programme
  • Fill in your shipment information.
  • You will then receive a shipment price from any eligible PCP carriers
  • Choose the one that suits you and accept the charges.

Using Non-PCP Shipping

You aren’t required to use PCP carrier in order to use the FBA service, but the discount offered by PCP affiliated carriers means they are almost always to most cost-effective shipping option.

If you do choose to use your own carrier, you must provide tracking numbers for Small Parcel Deliveries and a Bill of Lading (BOL) and Freight Numbers if you selected Less Than Truckload (LTL).

Printing the Required Shipping Labels

You’ve selected the products you want to be Fulfilled by Amazon, you’ve labeled them correctly, you’ve packaged them as per Amazon’s guidelines, and you’ve created a shipping plan to have them picked up by a courier and sent to the nearest fulfillment center.

Now you are only one step away from sending out your shipment!

In order for your chosen carrier and Amazon to identify your shipment and make sure it goes to the right place, you will need to print off and attach some shipping labels.

The easiest and most cost-effective way to do this is with a thermal printer. Unfortunately, Amazon does not support printing directly to a thermal printer from Seller Central.

Thankfully, that is where AZLabels comes in, adding a convenient and easy-to-use browser extension button that allows you to print your labels and barcodes directly from Seller Central on a cost-saving and efficient thermal printer.

All you need to do is follow our comprehensive guide to printing FBA labels on a thermal printer to find out which labels you need and how best to print them off. We’ll even show you how to get a free thermal printer and thermal printing supplies to cut your overheads down to nothing.

Once you’ve printed off the required shipping labels, you can just sick back and wait for your inventory to be picked up.

Wrapping it Up

So there you have it, by reading our detailed guide on shipping products to FBA, you now know how to:

  • Marking your inventory as “Fulfilled by Amazon”
  • Correctly label your products if you don’t want them to be put in Commingled Inventory
  • Correctly package your products for shipment to an Amazon fulfillment center, as per Amazon’s product preparation requirements
  • Creating a shipping plan that will have a carrier come and pick up your inventory and transport it to an Amazon fulfillment center
  • Quickly and easily print the required shipping labels that allow both the carrier and the fulfillment center to identify your items

By following these five steps, you can use Amazon's huge logistical set up to warehouse more products and get them into the hands of your buyers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Happy selling!

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