Getting Started with Amazon FBA:
What is Fulfillment by Amazon?
Quite simply: You sell it, they ship it.
With FBA, you scan and send your products to Amazon fulfillment centers, and they pick, pack, and ship them and provide customer service.
Some of the benefits of using FBA are:
- Your items become eligible for free shipping on qualifying orders and Amazon Prime Amazon customers love FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime, and these delivery options are available for your Amazon listings.
- Competitive pricing Your FBA listings on Amazon are sorted by product price with no shipping costs since your products are eligible for free shipping.
- Trusted customer service and returns FBA listings are displayed with the Fulfillment by Amazon logo, so customers know that packing, delivery, customer service, and returns are all handled by Amazon.
- And MORE! Your customers also benefit from a growing assortment of other benefits, such as gift wrapping and an up-to-the-minute countdown for One Day Shipping.
- Supplies to Get Started:
One of the great things about starting a business using Amazon FBA is that the initial start-up investment is relatively small.
However, to be successful, keep Amazon happy, and satisfy your customers, you will need a few supplies.
We’ve broken it down into Essential Supplies and more advanced items, which you can purchase later once you see some profits come in (or now, if you’re feeling really confident!)
So, you went out and found some KILLER deals, and you want to get it shipped out so you can see those dollars $$$ start rolling in!
Now it’s time to pull those stickers off, get them prepped and off to the warehouse.
Scotty Peeler (My #1 must buy item!)
When I first got started I was peeling all my stickers by hand. Many of them were deeply discounted, and had the stack of clearance stickers to prove it! It was tedious, took ages, and often lead to a somewhat damaged spot—which is not what Amazon shoppers want to arrive at their door!
I saw a YouTube video where she was using this AMAZING little tool to get the stickers off. Scotty slid that HomeGoods sticker off like it was nothin’! (Those had been my absolute least favorite to tackle–they come off in a million little pieces!)
I was SOLD on the Scotty Peeler, and I’ve never looked back. This inexpensive little tool is the best investment you’ll make into FBA, hands down. Get those labels off with ease and spend your precious time doing something more enjoyable!
Use a hair dryer on low setting to get labels off with ease
When shipping in your items for FBA you will need to place your label over the existing UPC to identify it as YOUR inventory.
Amazon will also do this for you, for a fee of 15 cents per item. As you are just starting out, I recommend that you label your own items to maximize profits.
Amazon prefers that you use the removable labels, to make it easier for the customer, and minimizes risk of damage to the item. Before shipping, be sure to research the In’s and Out’s of FBA here: Amazon Seller Central FBA Policies and Requirements
These Avery Labels are the best I’ve used and fit the barcodes generated by Amazon perfectly, printing 30 to a sheet. I typically try to upload at least 30 items at a time if I can to reduce waste and save $$ (which is what we’re here for!)
You will need shipping supplies to send the product to Amazon. Often your haul may be split into several different destinations. You will need different sized shipping boxes to ensure that everything arrives in tip top shape.
Boxes can be purchased at Home Depot and Lowe’s, or any shipping facility. I try to reuse boxes I’ve been shipped things in if they’re still in good condition. You can also check local stores, sometimes they are able to give you boxes, just ensure that they are clean and in good shape. You can also just save yourself some hassle and get them on Amazon with the rest of your supplies.
Now that you’ve taken the time to source, clean up and box your inventory, make sure it doesn’t go spilling out. Use strong packing tape, such as Scotch to ensure your haul makes it to it’s destination in one piece.
Side note: We tried saving some pennies and bought the cheaper tape originally. In addition to the utter frustration of constantly splitting down the middle and coming off in bits (which drove my husband CRAZY), we had to use a ton to make sure the box stayed shut. Never again.
You will usually need a bit of padding in your box to keep items safe during shipping. When I was just getting started we had recently moved, so I had plenty of bubble wrap and craft paper on hand. As I sold more, I ran out (not complaining!) and had to pick up some more. Like everything, it’s available on Amazon for a decent price.
This is the recommended padding from the Amazon FBA Seller Central website:
Or you can buy bulk tissue paper for wrapping items:
Additional Items to Consider:
Prepping your goods
There is a certain expectation when ordering on Amazon, therefore when you are shipping to them for FBA, all items need to look good. Make sure that you note if a box is opened, or has dinged sides. It doesn’t mean it can’t be sold FBA, but you DO need to note it in the description.
Again, be sure to check out Seller Central for all the details: Amazon Seller Central FBA Policies and Requirements
I can’t help it, every time I peel one of these off the roll I say “Fra-GEE-lay…must be Italian!” (Christmas Story–if you don’t know it, I suggest you acquaint yourself post haste) As you can see above, Amazon wants a fragile sticker on breakables if possible, this roll is inexpensive on…you guessed it! Amazon!
I use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to clean up any dirty boxes. Use them dry or get slightly damp and squeeze dry before wiping (you don’t want the moisture, just the cleanup.) Again, the packaging needs to look good, so get rid of any dust, smudges or sticker residue.
Some items require additional prep for sale. You will get a notification that additional prep is need when you upload the item.
Amazon provides clear instruction on how to handle these items, you can read more here on Amazon Seller Central FBA Policies and Requirements. (I suggest that you familiarize yourself with all policies to ensure you are always in compliance.)
Examples of additional requirements:
Clear Plastic Bags
Certain items (such as plush, fabric, or potential leakage) need to be shipped in a clear plastic bag to avoid damage to the product during the shipping process.
Amazon does offer a prepping service (at a premium fee) in which they will bag and tag your goods. If you plan to rarely ship anything needing prepped, this may be the way for you. I personally source from all over, and never know what treasures I’ll find, so I like to keep supplies on hand and protect my profit margins!
I bought these clear plastic peel-n-stick baggies from Amazon multiple sizes, making sure to buy the ones with a suffocation warning label preprinted on it. They make my life easy, and I’m able to prep myself for a fraction of the price, and ensure they show up to the warehouse in good condition. With 4 sizes to choose from, I’m always covered.
If you have your own bags on hand that you’d like to use that’s fine, but be aware that Amazon does require a suffocation warning label, which can be purchased separately (but I prefer the ready to go pre-printed variety, cause “ain’t nobody got time for that!”)
Supplies for Bundling
A lot of times there are smaller items that have a smaller amount of profit, say $5-$15/each. Now obviously, you can send these in and take those profits… OR you can bundle up and get a higher amount on each item (I shoot for $25-$30 profit per sale myself.)
A way to make that extra profit and stand out in a sea of the same on Amazon is to bundle your products and create a unique listing.
When you are bundling you want to make very sure that those items stay together and aren’t split up at the warehouse, causing you potential inventory issues. We found these brightly colored stickers that say, “This is a Set- Do Not Separate” that are hard to miss.
You can use a bathroom scale in the beginning, but I would suggest picking up a shipping scale. Bathroom scales are notoriously inaccurate and have personally caused me shipping delays in the past due to lack of postage. If you are going to go by what your bathroom scales says, I always round up the weight a little to avoid issues.
We like this one because you can see the weight even when weighing large boxes (when you use the ones with built in screen it’s nearly impossible to read the weight).
This scanner isn’t something that you’ll need right off the bat, but will save you loads of time once you start scaling your business and bringing in more and more inventory.
I hand keyed UPCs for my first few months, but as I got more and more stock I was looking for ways to cut back on the amount of time it took me to prep and ship. (I’d much rather be out sourcing new products!) For under $20, it has saved me a ton of time…and I just feel really fancy using it. 😉
Dyno Label Printer
Now, I am assuming that you have a basic printer in your home, which you will need for printing the shipping label anyways.
I personally use the HP Envy Wireless Printer that does everything I need it to, from scanning, to printing photos directly from my phone, it’s my new baby, and I love it.
(Half off right now on Amazon!)
I do know some FBA sellers who prefer to use this Dyno Label Printer. It is compact and thermal, which saves on ink costs.
If you choose, you can also sell through Amazon under their Fulfilled By Merchant system. While I personally prefer to stick to FBA and let them take care of the shipping and the customer, there are some that prefer to ship directly themselves.
When doing this, you’ll want to make a good first impression and look professional. While you can print, cut out and tape your shipping labels (like on eBay) you can save yourself some time with these shipping labels, and look like a true business.
If you are shipping directly: Make yourself stand out
Think about doing something above and beyond to gain yourself positive feedback. A small printed note, thanking them for their business and asking them to reach out if they need anything can go a long way.
Small tokens or freebies are another great way to make people feel special and appreciated. My husband once received a Japanese tea bag with a vintage Japanese video game he bought online, and he was SOOO impressed. He even still has it and was SURE to give the guy glowing feedback.
We hope you found value in this list of start up supplies and feel confident to take the next steps with selling on Amazon FBA!
Feel free to reach out to us in the comments section below, thanks for reading!