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FBA Label Service

A couple of months ago Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) started a product labeling service.  Let me start with a little background for people who aren’t familiar with FBA.

Rather than shipping products to individual customers yourself, Amazon will perform this service for you (for a fee).  You ship your inventory to an Amazon warehouse, and when an order comes in on Amazon for that product Amazon does the pick, pack, and ship for you.

Of course Amazon has to be able to find your product in their warehouse to do this, and usually they use the UPC bar code.  However, some products don’t have a UPC bar code on them, and some UPCs are used for more than one product (or at least some UPCs are associated with more than one product in the Amazon system, usually because there are multiple listings for the same product).

For products that don’t have a unique UPC bar code on them, Amazon requires the products to have a label on them with the Amazon-issued ASIN (ASIN is similar to UPC, but is managed by Amazon).  Prior to a couple of months ago, you had to put these labels on each such product prior to shipping the products to the Amazon warehouse for FBA fulfillment.

If you’re only selling a few products a day this isn’t a problem, but certainly by the time you get to selling 100 products a day it can take a lot of time to put a label on every product.  Depending on the size and packaging of the product it typically has taken 30 – 60 seconds per item (this included time to open the box, remove all the items, label each item, put all the items back, and close up the box).  If you’re constrained for time, spending an hour a day labeling products before shipping them to the Amazon warehouse is a lot of time on a low value activity.

A couple of months ago Amazon started offering a labeling service so you don’t have to do this anymore.  Currently this service costs $0.20 per item.  For low cost merchandise this can be significant, at 30 – 60 seconds per item this works out to $12 – $24 per hour.  That’s a little pricey but not too bad, you just have to make sure it makes sense for the products you sell.

So far Amazon has been pretty accurate about putting the correct labels on products, but they did mislabel one shipment that had two variations of the same product, differing only in the color.  From the feedback I got from customers it seems clear they swapped some of the labels.  As much as possible I now send just one product variation in each shipment to minimize the chances of products being mislabeled.

There is another side benefit to having Amazon label your products for you.  When you get negative feedback from customers who say they were sent the wrong product that was shipped to them via FBA, Amazon won’t remove the feedback if the product had labels applied because they assume you mislabeled the product.  However, when using Amazon’s labeling service, if an item is mislabeled it was Amazon that mislabeled it, and they will now remove this type of negative feedback.  You may have to remind them that it was Amazon that labeled it though, my first attempt at having this feedback removed got the standard response about third party sellers being responsible for labeling products correctly.  They did eventually remove the feedback when I pointed out it was labeled by Amazon.

  1. June 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks for the info.. I just started with the Amazon labeling service, my first shipment was literally recieved at Fba today.. Question is how long did it take for Amazon to label your stuff? Compared to just recieving the stuff when it was already labeled?

    • June 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Hi Todd,

      I haven’t noticed any additional delay since using the FBA labeling service.

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