Prepping inventory for FBA means thinking the process through
By: Lesley Hensell
The Amazon seller was baffled. His account had been shut down for inauthentic goods. But he sourced all inventory direct from the manufacturer. How could this be?
He sold thousands of pairs of shoes every month. We discussed his business processes at length.
“Tell me about your boxes. Are the original branded shoeboxes?” I asked.
“Yes, of course,” he said.
“And how are you keeping the boxes closed?” I asked.
Turns out, the seller was not securing the shoeboxes. How did I know? Complaint after complaint said that pairs of shoes did not match. They were two different sizes, brands or colors.
It’s a perfect example of not thinking through how the FBA fulfillment center handles sellers’ inventory. Unsecured boxes may be spilled out of cartons or open in the warehouse. It’s unreasonable to expect that Amazon employees will carefully re-pair shoes that have become mixed up.
The solution? For this seller, I suggested plastic bands that could be used to secure the boxes without damaging the cardboard. Rubber bands will work for fast-moving items, but they should not be used if inventory will remain in the FC for long. Cold or heat could cause them to become brittle and break.
Selling items as sets
Many sellers send ASINs to the fulfillment center bundled together as a set. Unfortunately, workers at the Amazon warehouse can make tremendous mistakes by separating items that are meant to be sold together. For example:
- One client sold a two-pack of a medicine that was shrink-wrapped together. Amazon workers broke the two-packs into singles, causing many complaints when buyers did not receive two items.
- Another client sold a bundle with multiple components in a polybag. Amazon workers broke the bundles up, which caused havoc.
How can sellers prevent these problems? Add a prominent sticker that says: “Sold as a set. Do not separate.” This should stop the fulfillment center from making such egregious mistakes.
When in doubt, box, polybag or shrink-wrap
Amazon fulfillment centers are not sterile environments. Products are moved around multiple times. They become dusty and dirty. They are dropped on the floor.
The best solution for most products? Keep them clean, safe and in brand-new condition by placing them into protective packaging. This could mean placing them in a box, a polybag, or shrink wrap.
In conclusion, this is an extra step that takes time and costs a few pennies. But it will more than pay off with fewer buyer complaints.
Lesley is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, where she oversees the firm’s client services team. She leverages two decades as a small business consultant to advise clients on profitability and operational performance. Lesley has been an Amazon seller for almost a decade.