Nowadays, Amazon is the gold standard for shipping time. Customers expect 2-day shipping. It converts better and customers are happier when they get their packages quickly.
Unfortunately, 2-day shipping is not economically or logistically feasible for smaller brands, even when using a 3PL. And since Amazon changed their Seller Fulfilled Prime requirements, it’s virtually impossible to obtain Prime status without using Amazon. So, naturally, many brands utilize Amazon as their primary marketplace to sell their product.
What to do before you send product to an AMZ warehouse
In order to sell your product on Amazon, you’re going to need to send your product to one of their fulfillment centers. However, before you do that, you need to make sure you are meeting Amazon’s FBA Prep guidelines.
They are fairly extensive and vary depending on the nature of your product. For example, anything smaller than 2 ⅛ inches will require poly bagging (see guidelines here).
You'll also want to make sure you are sending your product to Amazon correctly, using their FBA Shipment guidelines.
What happens if my FBA shipment does not meet Amazon’s guidelines?
Failing to meet Amazon’s inbound shipment requirements can be costly. If you don’t follow the guidelines, your shipment may be delayed, denied, or even disposed of.
At best, you are out of stock for a few weeks and missed out on sales. At worst, you are out tens of thousands of dollars of inventory or you get banned from sending inventory to Amazon entirely!
Amazon provides a helpful checklist to make sure you are meeting their FBA guidelines.
How to send inventory to Amazon
Given the importance of FBA shipment compliance, it’s a good idea to leave the FBA prep services to the pros. There are 2 common routes for FBA shipments to take.
1. Directly from your supplier or manufacturer to Amazon
Because so many companies sell on Amazon, many suppliers and manufacturers offer the ability to prepare your products for shipment to Amazon in-house. This is often the most cost-effective way to handle FBA Prep as you do not have to ship your product to a separate facility. However, for many businesses, Amazon limits the inventory they can store in their warehouses at any given time.
Since you will have to order product in bulk from your supplier (1,000 units per SKU for example), this can be a problem. So, what do you do with the rest of your inventory in the meantime? This is where an FBA Prep Center comes into play.
2. From your supplier or manufacturer to an FBA Prep Center or 3PL to Amazon
An increasingly common approach for FBA services involves sending your inventory from your supplier to a third-party warehouse. The warehouse will store your excess inventory and replenish it to Amazon as needed.
Depending on what sales channels you sell your product on, an FBA Prep Center or a 3PL will be a good fit.
FBA Prep using a 3PL
If you sell on channels other than Amazon, it may make sense to use a fulfillment center like OTW Shipping that can ship your orders from your other channels in addition to sending inventory to Amazon. They can ship FBM (Fulfilled By Merchant) orders for you as well. Keeping all your inventory in one place saves you time and money.
Keep in mind that not all fulfillment centers offer this, and an even smaller number offer actual prep services (like barcoding, poly bagging, etc.). So, when possible, it is best practice to have your supplier prep your inventory prior to sending it to a 3PL.
FBA Prep using an FBA Prep Center
If you only sell on Amazon, your best bet is an FBA Prep Center. They are designed specifically to handle FBA prep services and send inventory to Amazon. If your product requires additional handling before going to Amazon, this is where you go.
Although FBA prep services can be expensive, you will get maximum efficiency and bang for your buck through a prep center compared to a 3PL.
The Top FBA Prep Centers in the US
East Coast FBA Prep Center
Founded in 2015 in Grand Rapids, MI. We strive to provide value to our customers. Our goal is their success. We provide more than Amazon Prep services, we also provide e-commerce fulfillment, kitting, assembly and quality inspection services.
West Coast FBA Prep Center
We started our journey as FBA sellers and quickly realized we needed more control over prepping and storing our products outside of Amazon fulfillment centers. We discovered quickly that there was a gap in the 3PL market for service providers willing to work with smaller customers.
This led to us founding Warehouse Republic in 2018. We started with our first Warehouse in Southern California and have recently expanded to a second warehouse in North Carolina. Our NC location specializes in FBA removals and reverse logistics.
Note: If you sell on multiple channels including Amazon, reach out to our team at OTW Shipping to get a quote. We offer unified fulfillment services across all platforms so you can handle your FBA prep needs and your other selling platforms in one easy-to-use dashboard.
If you are obtaining quotes from multiple 3PLs or FBA Prep Centers, it can be hard to compare pricing. We’ve made an awesome 3PL comparison template to help you account for your total fulfillment costs across a plethora of pricing models.
FBA Prep Center FAQs
What is an FBA Prep Center?
An FBA Prep Center offers services for clients selling on Amazon. They will receive and store your inventory so they can provide value-add services such as labeling, poly bagging, and preparing inventory before sending it to Amazon.
What are FBA Prep Services?
Labels (suffocation, expiration, etc.)
Damaged Item Handling
Expiration Labeling (if necessary)
Fragile Item Preparation
Loose Product Preparation
FBA Removal Orders/Inventory Processing
Professional Product Photographs
Product Tracking Technology (separate from Seller Central)
Hazardous Materials (Hazmat)
What are Amazon's FBA Shipment Requirements?