If you want to sell products on Amazon and want the full ‘hands-off’ experience, then you’ll need to ship inventory into an FBA warehouse so Amazon can fulfil your orders for you.
To do that you’ll need to know how to create a shipping plan on Amazon. And, we’ll be honest – it’s not the most straightforward process the first time (or the tenth time!) around.
Amazon will ask you questions you probably won’t have answers for, and use terms you may never have heard before.
But fear not, in this article, we’ll break down the new and updated ‘Send To Amazon’ process step-by-step so you know exactly how to ship to Amazon FBA.
Getting this process right means that you can have inventory in a warehouse ready to sell as quickly as possible.
So, let’s get you set up!
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Shipping directly to Amazon FBA
One of the best things about the Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) program is that you can send inventory directly from your suppliers to an Amazon fulfillment center.
That means you don’t have to fulfill orders yourself or find anywhere in your house to store boxes up to the ceiling!
But, if you’re running a private label brand and looking to ship directly from Alibaba suppliers to Amazon FBA fulfillment centers, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Create & convert the product to Fulfilled By Amazon
- Label your products
- Prepare your products for shipping
- Find a freight forwarder
- Create a shipping plan on Amazon
We’ll briefly cover the prep needed for each of these steps in the shipping process next, but if you already have these in place and just need a Send To Amazon walkthrough, skip to that process here.
1/ Change a product to Fulfilled By Amazon
You first need to make sure the product you are wanting to send to Amazon is set up to be fulfilled by Amazon.
To do this, create your product listing, then on the Manage Inventory page click the drop-down next to the edit menu and choose ‘Change to Fulfilled by Amazon’.
If it’s an existing product and only gives the option to ‘Change to Fulfilled by Merchant’ – like the example above – then you’re already on the right FBA inventory setting – winner!
2/ Label your products
Next, you need to make sure your manufacturer applies a barcode label to your product.
You have two choices: a manufacturer’s barcode, or an Amazon barcode.
A manufacturer barcode is what you produce when creating a GS1 barcode for your product.
All products need a GS1 barcode number to register the product on Amazon’s system.
However, once you’ve created the barcode number, you can use it to create the Amazon listing but then use an Amazon FNSKU barcode on your product which helps keep track of your stock.
To generate your Amazon FNSKU barcodes, navigate to the product in question inside the Manage Inventory page and click the drop-down arrow next to the edit button.
Here you’ll see an option to ‘Print item labels’.
Now you can download the amount you need, save as a PDF and send to your supplier so they can apply the barcode label.
For a better, branded experience, create custom-designed packaging and embed the Amazon barcode into the packaging design so you don’t need to apply a sticker to each unit – much more professional!
3/ Prepare your products for shipping
Once each individual unit is produced and labelled it’s time to get the bulk shipment prepared and ready to be sent to FBA fulfillment centers.
Have your supplier pack your products into double or triple-wall cardboard cartons. Double-wall will be cheaper, but triple-wall will offer more protection.
If your product is breakable or could easily be damaged in transit then you may want to consider other protection like corner protectors.
4/ Find a freight forwarder
Next, I’d highly recommend employing the services of a good freight forwarder.
A freight forwarder is someone who will organize the transport of your goods from your supplier to the Amazon FBA warehouse.
Freight forwarding companies are experts in their field and make sure that everything is done in a timely manner, with all relevant paperwork in place, and a good one is worth its weight in gold!
Once you’ve got your products made, packed up and ready to send, a freight forwarder can step in and handle every part of the process that sees your goods arrive at Amazon FBA.
Access our proven and vetted list of trusted suppliers and partners inside the Brand Builder Vault.
Also, it’s worth connecting with a trusted freight forwarding before creating a shipping plan on Amazon as they may have certain specifics you need to include in the plan.
5/ Create a shipping plan on Amazon
Once you’ve got these aspects sorted, it’s time to create a shipping plan on Amazon with the new Send To Amazon workflow!
What is Send to Amazon?
The Send to Amazon workflow is what Amazon FBA sellers can use to create a shipping plan in Seller Central.
Introduced in 2021, Send to Amazon was designed to streamline the process of creating shipping plans on Amazon and replaces the original send/replenish inventory format.
Amazon sellers operating in all business models – whether private label, wholesale, or arbitrage – will need to use this workflow in order to get products into Amazon fulfillment centers.
As of October 2022, the Send to Amazon workflow is the only option for creating new shipments with the original method no longer available. Selecting send/replenish inventory via the Manage Inventory page currently re-routes to Send to Amazon, but this menu option may be removed in time.
How to create a shipping plan with Send to Amazon
Thankfully, shipping to FBA with this new workflow is much simpler than it used to be.
To access the Send to Amazon workflow, first, navigate to Amazon Seller Central and the Manage FBA Shipment menu. You can click the bookmark icon to add it to your Seller Central shortcuts bar.
This will bring you to the Shipping Queue page where you’ll find a list of all current and past shipping plans. To the top of the screen, you’ll find the ‘Send to Amazon’ option.
Click this and you’ll have three steps to complete in the workflow. Let’s go through each of them in fine detail so you know exactly what to do.
Step 1: Choose inventory to send
The first step in the Send to Amazon workflow is all about selecting the FBA inventory you want to send in.
There are a number of specific details you need to get right here, so let’s take them one at a time.
Enter ‘Ship from’ address
Firstly, you need to enter a ‘Ship from’ address that lets Amazon know where the goods are coming from.
If you are using the ocean shipping method and sending to Amazon directly from your supplier then the easiest thing to do is use your supplier’s warehouse address.
If you’d prefer not to enter that information into Amazon Seller Central you can always ask your forwarder if you can use their address instead.
If you are shipping locally from a warehouse or even your own house, use the address you’re shipping from rather than an overseas address as this will give you more shipping options such as using Amazon’s partnered courier services.
When you use an address Amazon will save it for later use. If you have multiple Ship from addresses be sure to check you have the correct one selected so you get the right shipping options later on.
Choose destination marketplace
Next, the simplest step in the entire process – select which Amazon FBA marketplace you want to send your products to.
The time you really need to check this is when creating FBA shipping plans in Europe as due to the connected marketplaces you can choose other EU marketplaces in this drop-down.
Mostly though, a quick double-check will verify it’s defaulted to the correct marketplace.
Input packing details
Next, things get a little bit more detailed.
Amazon requires that you enter the packing details for each of the boxes you are sending to FBA warehouses and there are two options here – sending in individual units or case-packed units.
In most cases, you’d only want to select individual units if you are shipping a number of different SKUs in one carton – such as for online arbitrage or wholesale shipments.
If this is your objective, choose the ‘Individual units’ option in the ‘Packing details’ dropdown menu, then click the ‘Prep and labelling details needed’ option.
Select the correct prep category (usually ‘No prep needed’, but double check) and check any additional labelling requirements.
Wherever possible though, you’ll want to ship in single-SKU cartons which allows you to select the case-packed units option – a much more time-efficient method.
When sending case-packed units for the first time you’ll need to create a new packing template.
Here you can enter the dimensions, weight and number of units per carton you’ll be sending in.
Check the prep category is correct, give your packing template a name and viola – it’s saved for you to use every time you create a shipment… a HUGE time saver!
Clarify with your supplier ahead of time that you will need carton packing to be consistent with each order and contain the same number of units each time. Then place order quantities based on units per carton so you’re not left with an odd number of units and a final carton with different packing info to enter.
Once you’ve entered all the packing details for each product in your FBA shipment, enter the number of boxes you’re sending for each SKU and click the ‘Ready to send’ button.
(This will show as ‘Ready to pack’ if you chose the individual units option previously.)
If you’re shipping case-packed items you can click ‘Confirm and continue’ to go to the next step, or if you’re shipping individual units click ‘Pack individual units’ to enter some more details.
Pack individual units
If you chose the individual units option you’ll need to enter the packing information separately.
Select whether you’ll fit everything in one box or need multiple boxes and enter the box information for the chosen option. If you’ll need multiple boxes you can customize the box quantities and associated details as needed.
Ok, that’s Step 1 completed! Now you’re on a roll, let’s move to Step 2.
Step 2: Confirm shipping
The next stage of the process requires you to confirm how your shipment will be sent to Amazon.
Let’s take it section by section.
Nothing too difficult here – select when you expect your products to ship out. You can just select the next day’s date for simplicity.
You have two options when shipping to FBA – SPD or LTL.
SPD is Small Parcel Delivery and as the name suggests involves goods arriving at Amazon in individual cartons. This is best for small shipments.
LTL is Less Than Truckload and involves multiple cartons being packed onto pallets which is the shipping method recommended for larger shipments.
The most common method is to ship products from China in cartons, and then have your forwarder palletize the goods in the destination country in preparation for sending them to Amazon as an LTL shipment.
However, this is something I’d definitely advise speaking to a freight forwarder about before creating a shipping plan on Amazon.
It’s also worth noting that if you select LTL then Amazon offers a ‘Merge workflows’ function to attempt to consolidate your shipment with other orders to produce the most efficient load for transit.
99% of the time this won’t be applicable and will only come into play when you start doing very large volumes.
Amazon will automatically calculate the number of shipments and associated destinations you need to send products to. Be prepared for the fact you will often need to send stock to multiple FBA warehouses.
Define a ‘delivery window’
A more recent update to the Send To Amazon workflow requires you to define a predicted delivery window for your shipment.
This is designed to help Amazon manage logistics on the receiving end.
In time, this should mean fewer delays when your goods arrive at a fulfillment center, but it does, of course, mean an extra bit of admin for you.
I have been putting in the date which I foresee to be the earliest time the goods could arrive as it then creates a two-week window following that date.
The good news is you can update this date at any time prior to that date – you’ll just need to stay on top of your shipments and keep in touch with your freight forwarder about expected delivery dates.
Select shipping carrier
Finally, you’ll need to select your shipping carrier. You can select either an Amazon-partnered carrier such as UPS, or a non-Amazon-partnered carrier.
Amazon’s partnered carriers are often much cheaper than non-partnered carriers and also come with the added benefit of payment being processed directly through your Amazon balance.
However, they are only currently available when shipping into Amazon from within the same country. Perfect for shipping product in from your 3PL warehouse.
When you ship to Amazon FBA direct from overseas, choose the non-Amazon-partnered carrier option. If you don’t know who the carrier will be, just select ‘Other’.
Finally, review the details and when you’re ready click ‘Accept charges and confirm shipping’ (it will say this even if the costs are zero) and you’re ready for the final step.
Related Podcast Episode: Best Shipping Practices For Amazon Sellers with Westbound Logistics founder Ryan Clark.
Step 3: Print box labels
The last step is to download the shipping labels for the cartons and pallets you will be sending in.
Amazon will automatically provide you with the right amount of labels you need for the shipping boxes in FBA shipments, and your freight forwarder will advise how many pallet labels you need if shipping LTL and then also print pallet labels for you.
I’d advise renaming the FBA shipping plan to something helpful like [DATE] – [PRODUCT], then click the ‘Print’ button and download the PDF that is produced.
Send the downloaded PDF with your own unique shipping label to your supplier who can print labels for you and apply two on opposite sides of each carton in case one gets damaged.
Additional step: tracking details
If you’ve chosen to use a non-Amazon-partnered carrier then you’ll need to enter tracking details for your shipment before it arrives at an Amazon fulfillment center.
As they won’t be immediately available when creating the FBA shipping plan, make a note to get these details from your freight forwarder at a later date and come back to update them.
Chosen an Amazon-partnered carrier? No need to do anything! Tracking details are automatically updated in your Amazon Seller Central account.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whilst it takes a little bit of getting used to, creating an Amazon FBA shipment with the Send To Amazon workflow is a much-improved and streamlined version of what came before it.
Follow this guide step-by-step the first few times and you’ll soon be an FBA shipping plan pro!
Or send this article to an Amazon VA and start to outsource admin tasks so you can continue to focus on the growth of your business.
Either way, now you know how to ship directly to Amazon FBA and the possibilities are endless… enjoy!