Starting Out on FBA (Part 2)
by Kat Simpson, on May 12, 2015
Many people read my first article here, along with other information available online, and decided that adding FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) to their businesses made sense. However, when they started looking online for more information, the flood of available options was so overwhelming that they stopped before they even started.
While I understand the “analysis paralysis” of trying to sort through the myriad of options out there, I strongly encourage folks to take the Nike approach and “Just Do It.”
There are groups that advise sourcing solely online, and only sourcing “fast-turning” items. Others that tell you to source at book sales and thrift stores and go for the “long-term hold” strategy. I am a business coach who recommends a very diversified sourcing strategy, and I recommend diversification in all other parts of your business, as well. As explained in the previous article, you can begin sourcing at your very own house. Once you have a pile of at least 30 items, you can move to the next stage.
Add Your Products
Log into your Amazon selling account and click the “Add A Product” link under the “Inventory” heading tab across the top of your account. That link will lead you to a page where you can search the Amazon catalog to find a match to your product. In the search box that pops up, enter the UPC code and hit search. Hopefully, an exact match will pop up. If nothing pops up, you'll need to try searching by typing in the item title or keywords to try and locate the matching listing. If more than one match comes up, you will need to open each listing and verify which one is correct. Some of the things to watch for are color, size, condition and category. According to Amazon rules, your listing must match the item page exactly. If there are more than one exact match, you can choose. My advice is to choose the listing that has the best details, price and sales rank. Once you have identified which listing you want to use, click the “Sell Yours” button.
Since you are adding your own item to an already existing listing, there are only a few things you'll need to enter. Just add your SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), any condition notes, your price, and tax code. Make sure the radio button at the bottom for shipping method is marked “I want Amazon to Ship and Provide Customer Service for my Items if They Sell.” Then click the “Save and Finish” button at the very bottom of the page.
Choose Shipment and Shipping Plan Options
Now you are in the shipping section of the Amazon matrix. There are two terms you need to understand in this section - “Shipment” and “Shipping Plan.” “Shipping Plan” refers to all the items you are shipping at one time and can contain multiple boxes and will go to multiple different Amazon warehouses. “Shipment” consists of all the boxes that are going to the same warehouse. For your first item, just hit the button that says “Continue to Shipping Plan.”
On the next screen you'll add how many of the item you’re shipping. If the item has never been in one of Amazon's warehouses, you'll enter the weight and size of the item. Then, hit the “Continue” button. Now you'll need to go back through the process to add each additional item in your shipment. For the next item and each additional one, when you get to the first shipping page, you'll make sure the radio button is selected at the top of the page that says, “Add to an Existing Shipping Plan.” Then use the drop down menu to select the shipping plan you created with your first product.
Once you have added all the products you've collected and added them to the same shipping plan, you are ready to have Amazon create the actual shipments for your products. After the last product is in the plan, click on the print labels button to print the barcode labels for your products. Your printer will need a sheet of 30-up labels to print these. Use the “Continue” button again to see how many warehouses you will be shipping to. For each shipment, you will use the “Create New” radio button and then approve shipments button on the bottom of the page.
Each shipment comes with a “Work on Shipment” button which you will click on to finish it. On this page, you'll review and modify which items go on the shipment. Then use the radio buttons “Small Parcel Delivery” and “Amazon-Partnered Carrier.” Enter how many boxes you need for this shipment. For each box, enter the weight and size of each box. After you have entered all the box information for this shipment, click on the “calculate” button to find how much Amazon shipping will charge you for the shipment. After you accept the shipping charge, you'll click on “print box labels” to print the UPS labels for your shipping boxes.
After you have labeled the boxes, click the “Complete Shipment” button and deliver them to UPS.
Go back and complete the other shipments that were created from this shipping plan. Then, you just sit back and watch the orders come in.
I know it seems clunky and takes a while with your first shipment, but have faith. It gets easier each time. Keep at it. Send those shipments at least weekly and you'll soon have successful FBA income stream.