But when a seller wants to send inventory to an Amazon fulfillment center, it is not a matter of placing it in a box and sending it to a courier. Amazon has multiple requirements that your stock must meet for the fulfillment center to accept it without penalizing you. Some of the rules apply to all stock, and others are specific to categories.
If your business utilizes Amazon’s FBA program, it’s extremely important to understand how to properly prepare your stock to be injected into Amazon’s DC’s (distribution centers). This process is commonly referred to as FBA prep and is much a much more involved process than most think.
What is FBA Prep?
FBA prep involves preparing your stock so that it is ready to send into Amazon DC’s. The main elements involved in FBA Prep are packaging, labeling, and inspection. It is crucial that you get your FBA prep right; otherwise, Amazon will reject your inventory, and you will incur steep costs to remedy the stock for reinjection into Amazon.
Not only must you prepare your products to meet the rigorous standards of Amazon FBA, but you must also make sure that stock arrives at Amazon undamaged. If damaged stock is sent to Amazon, chances are it could inadvertently be sent to your customers, resulting in potential customer complaints. When such complaints pile up, they ruin your metrics, suppress your listing, and Amazon may even suspend your account.
This article explains more about FBA prep services and why you should consider outsourcing this critical service with professional fulfillment services rather than taking the risk of jeopardizing your status with Amazon.
List of FBA Prep Services
Amazon FBA prep companies aim to perform all the hefty logistics on your behalf. Generally, when using a prep service, you send shipments directly to the prep center’s address instead of yours, where all the work is performed to get items ready and shipped to FBA warehouses on your behalf.
However, it is worth noting that each prep center has its own unique service offering and niches they excel in, so you need to choose one that meets your needs.
Some of the common services you can expect at an FBA Prep Center include:
- Sticker removal
- Inspection of goods to ensure product is undamaged
- Applying shipping labels
- Storage (to help avoid Amazon’s storage limitations throughout the year)
- Poly bagging
- Damaged item handling
- Loose product preparation
- Items forwarding
- Container handling
- Expiration labeling
- Product tracking technology
- Order fulfillment
- Shipping Services
- Bubble/shrink wrapping
- Product assembly
- Suffocation warning labels
- Import/export management
- eCommerce fulfillment
- Package design/marketing
- Promotional inserts
Why Outsource FBA Prep Services?
Considering the rigorous Amazon’s FBA requirements, most online stores need help from experts. Outsourced FBA prep companies have extensive experience in meeting the demands of Amazon, so you can focus on other aspects of your business rather than wasting time labeling product and managing storage limits.
Outsourced FBA prep companies offer a wealth of benefits, including:
- Ensuring your shipments meet Amazon FBA requirements
When you outsource FBA prep to experts, they ensure your inventory meets all Amazon’s requirements. They have experience working with FBA and are aware of all the requirements involved. You can be sure that your items will be accepted, and your Amazon account does not risk suspension.
- Saving your company time by avoiding tedious and laborious tasks
For any business, time remains a precious commodity. It can be a real struggle to get your online business going when receiving deliveries, checking, and prepping them all eats away at your time. There is a wealth of more valuable tasks that need your attention, such as administration, purchasing, and sourcing. Luckily, outsourcing FBA prep services ensure you spend that time elsewhere by taking most of the tedious workload off your hands. You can direct the time towards growing the business further.
- Avoiding Amazon’s “peak season” pricing
Standard storage pricing at Amazon is typically more expensive than third-party warehousing. Amazon’s storage rates also increase significantly during the peak season. Amazon puts more emphasis on moving products than storing excess inventory, and therefore implements a punitive pricing model during peak season that favors companies that do not use the storage space in fulfillment centers much.
Outsourcing FBA prep can help sellers avoid such high costs when longer term storage services are needed by avoiding Amazon’s increased storage fees. Furthermore, Amazon Prep centers offer scalability by allowing more storage and processing as the business grows in addition to the peak season.
- Eliminating the need for more systems
Getting your items out in an efficient and timely manner requires you to streamline the processes. Meeting Amazon’s strict demands will no doubt require the implementation of systems and processes in your shipping function. By working with FBA prep companies, you don’t have to develop any systems or processes since the third party takes care of all that on your behalf. Instead, you have extra time and energy to build your business.
- Optimizing spend on packaging materials.
If you have already bought, prepped, packaged, and posted an item to Amazon, you know how many different materials go into ensuring that products are properly packaged. Just imagine doing this at scale. You need boxes, labels, bubble wrap, bags, printers, and ink, and missing any of these materials could significantly impact your business. Outsourcing a prep service means all these requirements are off your hands.
How Much Does it Cost to Outsource FBA Prep Services?
For FBA prep, you have three choices, including paying Amazon, doing it yourself, or outsourcing with a third-party prep center. With Amazon, you must consider your monthly shipping and the size of your profit margins. You are eligible only when you meet the minimum threshold of 40 items per month. Even if you meet the threshold, you still must determine if their hefty fees are economical for your business, or if the fees will potentially bring your small margins to zero.
If you decide to do the prep yourself, you will have to factor in costs such as rent, employees, supplies, technology, and management time. Renting a small space will cost you quite a bit by itself ($750 per month at a bare minimum), depending on the location.
Unless your rented warehouse has dock access, you will have to incur lift gate fees when you order from suppliers who ship items on pallets since small spaces don’t usually have loading docks. After renting the space, you need to hire one or more employees each at about $2500 or more per month (including benefits. In short, you can easily spend more than $3000 per month doing FBA prep yourself.
When you outsource FBA prep, you only pay for the space you use, a price that is usually lower than renting your own space. You will not encounter lift-gate fees and can enjoy additional discounts if you commit to longer terms. Furthermore, you won’t need to hire employees; thus, you can rest assured of faster processing times. The cost of outsourcing FBA prep services with a prep center is significantly less expensive than other options.
FBA Prep centers usually charge the following fees:
- Labeling Fees
- Prep Fees
- Stickering Fees
- Box, Bubble Wrap and Pallets Fees
- Inspection Fees
Why Choose OSW for Your FBA Prep?
Outsourcing FBA prep service is a great addition to your business. It takes a large part of the process off your hands, frees up your time to focus on other activities, and, more importantly, ensures you meet Amazon’s FBA requirements. However, you can only realize these benefits when you work with an experienced partner such as Our Serviceworks (OSW).
Our Serviceworks has over three decades of experience working with local and national companies alike. We understand all the ins and outs of Amazon eCommerce. FBA prep customers take advantage of our competitive storage rates and use our industry expertise for FBA prep.
But perhaps the greatest differentiator between OSW and other Amazon Prep alternatives is our attention to superior customer care. Unlike Amazon, where you’ll be lucky to get chat support that addresses your needs, OSW provides customer care services for clients, which complements our fulfillment capabilities. The stakes are high in terms of garnering 5-star reviews from Amazon customers – so you need a capable partner to deliver unparalleled service to ensure customer satisfaction.
Contact OSW today and learn more about warehousing, fulfillment, and shipping services.