How to Ship by Air to an Amazon FBA Warehouse (Seller Central Screenshots)
The 3 most beautiful letters in the alphabet? FBA. Fulfillment by Amazon.
In other words, sending your products to Amazon and letting them ship (fulfill) your customer orders for you.
It’s what makes private labeling with Amazon so worthwhile. Picking, packing, shipping, warehousing… Amazon does it all for you. It’s near-complete automation!
Now, before you move to the beach villa or cruise-liner of your choice, you need to understand how to ship products to Amazon properly. Here’s everything step by step.
Before shipping to Amazon from your Seller Central account, make sure you have this stuff:
(1) Sourced product. Sourced a product and are prepared to ship it from the supplier’s factory, a third party warehouse, or your place of business. To boost your sourcing ability 10x, check this out. No lie. 10x.
(2) UPC (universal product code). Every new product simply needs a universal product code, a UPC. You buy one and give it to Amazon to signify you’re bringing a new product to market. You could spend $1000’s chasing them down, but we recommend Nationwide Barcode. They serve up GS1 compliant UPC/EAN/barcodes for $7 each, and they work perfectly. With each purchase of $7, you get everything you need to codify 1 product in Amazon’s system. That’s an affiliate link, so you’d be supporting more useful content like this at no extra cost to you.
(3) The number of units and cases. You need to plan how many units you want to send to Amazon, and how many different boxes they’ll be sent in (note: boxes over 50lb need to be marked “team lift” and no more than 150 units of product can be sent in a single box; if you’re sending more than 150 units you need multiple boxes).
(4) Weight and size. The weight (in lb) and dimensions (in inches) of each box that you’ll be shipping. If you’re shipping directly from your supplier or from a warehouse, you’ll need to ask your supplier for this information.
(5) Sending location. The location you’ll be shipping from and the carrier you’ll be using (this assumes you’re shipping by air with one of the big couriers like UPS, DHL, or FedEx)
Got this info?
Let’s go to Seller Central and tell Amazon what and how we’re shipping, and get special labels for our products and boxes.
SHIPPING IN SELLER CENTRAL STEP BY STEP
This is the fun part.
Keep this article open in another window as you’re filling out your shipping info on Amazon to avoid mistakes. If it’s your first few times doing this, this is crucial.
Everything’s laid out here, so take a deep breath.
The past is over; the future has yet to unfold. There’s only now.
Kick back, relax, and take your time with it. Do it right the first time to avoid headaches down the line.
(1) Go to Seller Central (sellercentral.amazon.com)
(2) Go to “Inventory” and its 1st subheader “Manage Inventory”. You’ll see all of the products that you sell.
(3) Once there, check the box on the far left that corresponds to the item you want to ship to Amazon for fulfillment.
(4) The first thing we need to do is confirm that Amazon knows that this listing is FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon). If it’s a brand new product listing, the system automatically assumes that it’s FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant), not FBA. You can’t move to the beach doing Fulfilled by Merchant. You’ll be stuck at home printing shipping labels, which is no fun. So, we’ll need to change the listing to tell Amazon’s system that you want Amazon to fulfill the customer orders. So choose the action “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon” from the drop-down menu.
It’ll give you the option to just Convert the inventory (meaning just switch the fulfillment method from FBM to FBA in general), or to Convert and also begin a shipping plan for the stock.
Assuming that we’re already sourced the product and you and the supplier are ready to go, we’ll go straight into the shipping process by clicking “Convert & Send Inventory”.
Alternatively, if you wanted to start the shipping plan at a different time you’d just go to Inventory > Manage Inventory > select the item > Send/Replenish inventory.
(5) We are now on the doorstep of Amazon’s famous shipping plan. It’s time to give Amazon some basic details before we enter the shipping workflow.
There are 3 basic bits of info:
- Select “Create a new shipping plan”
- Enter the address it’ll ship from on its way to Amazon (this will be your address or your supplier’s address depending on if you’re inspecting the products yourself or shipping directly from your supplier).
- Also, select the packing type. For most private label products, they’ll be “Case Packed”, meaning that your products are all the same SKU and that they’ll be inside one larger box all together.
Here’s Amazon’s official definition of Individual Products and Case-packed Products, just to sure that your items qualify as Case-Packed.
Now, on the next screen you’ll see that Amazon’s put us on a sort of step-by-step process known as the “Shipping Workflow”. It’s basically a draft of what inventory you plan to ship, and how. You can fill out each area at your own pace. You won’t be penalized for creating a workflow and then waiting before shipping off the goods.
Here’s what we’re working with: a 6-step shipping process.
For the sake of this example, let’s say that we’re going to send 500 units to Amazon (because we’re launching with our service, and will do an 100-unit promotion to get reviews and will sell the other 400 through organic keyword ranking at a cheaper introductory price and PPC).
We’re shipping directly from our supplier in China. We’ve already talked to our supplier and agree that we’ll be doing 500 units at 4 boxes with 125 products in each box (4 boxes * 125 products each = 500 products sent to Amazon total).
Keep in mind that Amazon has a limit of 150 units per case when it comes to case-packed products. We’re doing 125 units per case, so we’ll be just fine.
Enter that information and click “Continue”.
On to Prep.
Generally, to make the process as seamless as possible, I usually ask the supplier to prepare the shipment so that Amazon can start selling it right out of the box (in this case, the supplier will print Amazon’s scannable barcode stickers and affix them to the packaging for me).
So in answer to the question “Who preps?” I select “Merchant.” That is, our supplier on our behalf.
If you’re shipping the product to your home or office for personal inspection and affixing the labels yourself, you’d also select “Merchant”. Basically, it’ll be “Merchant” unless you want to send the products in without scannable labels and have Amazon do it for you.
Alright, Label Products. The Merchant (our supplier on our behalf) will label the products. And 500 will automatically be there based on the information we gave about our case-packed units.
This is important.
This is where you get the PDF with all 500 (in this case) units. There’s one for each box. You also get to choose the size of each of the labels. We prefer the size selection 27-up labels 63.5mm x 29.6mm on A4. Not too big, not too small. But every package is different. Get a ruler out and see which scannable barcode would be best for your package.
Make sure that the sticker will be affixed to a flat surface on your product or package. Pick a size accordingly.
Click “Print labels for this page” and a PDF of 500 (in this example) individual labels will begin to download. If you selected the “Merchant” labeling option earlier, it’s your responsibility to make sure these labels are printed and 1 label is affixed to each product so that Amazon can scan the inventory on arrival at the FBA fulfillment center.
Once the PDF with your individual product package labels downloads, click Continue.
It’s getting interesting now that we’re in the Review Shipments section.
Here’s where Amazon assigns warehouses for you. In this example, Amazon has blessed us with 3 different warehouse locations for our 4 cases of product.
Amazon.com has fulfillment centers across the USA, and assigns your shipping locations based on its data.
Note that you can also pick where you’d like to ship. A fee applies, but if you do the math on your shipping fees and it makes more sense to ship to 1 location, then you should do that instead. To change these settings, head to the Seller Central main page and follow these four steps:
- Under Settings, click Fulfillment by Amazon.
- Under Inbound Settings, click Edit.
- Under Inventory Placement Option, click Inventory Placement Service.
- Click Update.
Once you’ve found a mix of locations that works for you, hit “Approve Shipments” to move on.
Now, we’re in the View Shipments section.
You’ll see that you can “Work on Shipment” for each of the warehouse locations. We need to click that for each of our warehouse locations.
So, go through and complete each one individually. It’s the same process for each, so we’re just going to do the first row (125 units going to TPA1 in Ruskin, FL) as the example here.
When you go into “Work on shipment”, here’s what you see (section 1 isn’t included in the screenshot because there’s nothing to do there).
You’ll want to select SPD, most likely (unless you’re shipping pallets) and the carrier that you’re using. UPS is Amazon’s preferred carrier, but DHL and others work just fine as well. It’s up to you.
Carriers like UPS and DHL are licensed customs brokers, so they’ll be in charge of clearing your packages through customs on their way to Amazon. Make sure that you provide your phone number as the contact for the shipment, and it should go without a hitch.
Back to Seller Central. In point #3, the Shipment Packaging, you’ll enter the number, weight, and dimensions of the box. “Box” here is our case. So what they want to know is how many boxes are being shipped to fulfillment center TPA1 (answer = 1 in this case) and the weight and dimensions of the box. This is optional. Ask your supplier for this information.
And for sake of comparison, do you remember that Amazon told us to send 2 cases (250 units) to EWR4 in Robbinsville, NJ? Well, when we go in to work on that shipment, we’d enter the number of boxes as 2, instead of 1 as in the case of our TPA1 shipment.
Also on this “Work on shipment” page, don’t forget to save your box shipping label (this is the label you’ll put on the outside of the big box that holds all of your individual product boxes in it). That will also download as a PDF. Then, hit “Complete Shipment”.
Repeat this process for all 3 shipments, downloading each of the box labels as you go.
At the end of this process, make 100% sure that you have downloaded:
+ 1 PDF with 500 individual product package labels that Amazon will use to scan and receive the inventory. Each box should have 1 label affixed to it (the label should not be affixed over the box opening where the box is cut), and should be printed as-is (i.e. the files should not warped or manipulated to a different size). They should be out in the open and exposed, not under a layer of thick plastic or packaging. That could hamper visibility.
+ 3 PDF’s with a total of 4 box labels (1 for TPA1, 2 for EWR4, 1 for ONT2) for the cases of product. Each one will be affixed to a case, so that Amazon can scan the big boxes when they arrive and know what’s inside.
Send this series of documents to your supplier and have them print and prepare a sample unit with the barcode affixed. Have them send you a picture, just to make sure that you’re on the same page.
Nothing confirms a mutual understanding quite like pictures.
Once you’ve confirmed that your supplier can affix the product labels correctly, ship everything to Amazon using your selected carrier. The labels for the cases indicate where each box is headed, so there should be no ambiguity there. But just in case, make a list of all of the product quantities with warehouse names and locations for your supplier.
In our example shipment, our “let me confirm this 100%” list of products and destinations would look like this:
125 units (125 units in 1 box) to:
3350 Laurel Ridge Ave.
Ruskin, FL 33570
250 units (125 units in 1st box, 125 in 2nd box) to:
50 New Canton Way
Robbinsville, NJ 08691–2350
125 units (125 units in 1 box) to:
Golden State FC LLC
1910 E Central Ave
San Bernardino, CA 92408–0123