Amazon Packaging Requirements: Understanding FBA Prep Guidelines

Ariel Dearth

You can’t have growth without some growing pains. Perhaps your brand has been thriving in brick-and-mortar stores and you’ve decided to expand to e-commerce. Maybe you’ve established your Amazon fan base and are ready to expand your offerings to new categories. Whatever the cause of growth, it’s important to understand the Amazon packaging requirements for any new products you bring to market. By using this guide to Amazon prep, you can shorten lead times and facilitate the smoothest possible movement of freight into FBA. 

How Much Help Do You Need? 

Ask questions about FBA logistics and, more often than not, the answer you get will be “it depends.” There’s a reason that Kaspien has whole teams specialized in product prep and shipping requirements. We recommend putting your focus on determining if your existing packaging complies with FBA stock prep and shipping guidelines and how it needs to be modified. 

We’ve helped partners who didn’t know where to begin, established brands with sizeable infrastructure who need guidance in expanding to new categories, and the gamut of companies in the middle who need support in certain areas, but not others. Prep might be something you’re capable of accomplishing at your facilities, or you might want to leverage Amazon Global Logistics (AGL) or 3PL partners to meet your needs. 

When you determine how much assistance you need to create your FBA packaging strategy, I encourage you to use the Table of Contents feature to navigate to the information most applicable to your situation. Don’t let it get overwhelming! Experts at Kaspien and beyond can help you better understand your needs and how to address them.

Table of Contents

Resources for Amazon FBA  

In this article, we will outline the biggest issues we have encountered in our own seller journey and when helping partners. Our Purchase Order Management team has compiled this information into two immensely helpful downloadable PDF files: 

Kaspien’s US Shipment Routing Guide 

Kapsien’s International Shipment Routing Guide 

Within these PDFs, we reference several videos that can be found on the Fullfillment by Amazon YouTube Channel. They provide a vast library of resources to visually assist in all your questions about Amazon packaging requirements. Below are a few to get you started. 

Video: How to Label Small-Parcel Shipments to Ship to Amazon Fulfillment Centers 

Video: How to Label Products for Fulfillment by Amazon 

Video: How to Pack Boxes for Shipment to an Amazon Fulfillment Center 

Amazon Shipping Requirements – Do’s and Don’ts 

Let’s get down to the nitty and the gritty of what can and cannot be sent into FBA.  

There is zero allowance around these rules. Shipments minutely outside of these parameters run the risk of being rejected and will eventually mean severe consequences for the seller account. Amazon has these restrictions to insure they’re dedicating adequate space to all sellers and providing a safe working environment for FBA warehouse employees. 

  • DO NOT ship any boxes over 50 lbs. unless your products are considered oversized and packed one unit/box.  
  • DO NOT ship any boxes with a side over 25” unless your products are considered oversized and packed one ASIN/box.  
  • DO NOT shrink wrap, strap, tape, or bind boxes together. Amazon wants to ensure that their intake process is as uniform as possible, and the removal of these bindings creates an additional step that equates to unnecessary additional risk of employees cutting themselves. Additional packaging also runs the risk of getting caught in sorting machines. 
  • DO ensure that, if shipping on pallets, boxes do not overhang the pallet by more than one inch. This harkens back to Amazon’s need to maintain size consistency for efficient storage and movement throughout the warehouse. 
  • DO shrink wrap all pallets for safer movement of products. 
  • DO confirm that no pallets exceed 72” in height and/or 1500 lbs.  
  • DO always apply FBA labels on outer cartons. Amazon needs to be able to identify freight quickly to direct and sort accordingly, without digging through packages to find it. 
  • DO keep a running tally of exactly how many of each ASIN is in each box. Long gone are the days of shipping pallets of products and telling Amazon “They’re in there somewhere!” Knowing exactly what’s in each box without opening them makes it much easier to quickly route the correct number of products throughout the FBA network. This is important enough that we recommend not sealing boxes until you’ve finalized box contents just in case any changes need to be made. Document the box level contents using or any means that works best for you. 

Box Label Considerations 

Amazon has very specific requirements for the labels that appear on boxes arriving at FBA. These are placed on the outer box that contains multiple products, expected to be broken down once received into FBA. There are 3 ways to have this label applied: 

  • Your brand can apply them at your own facilities before shipping into FBA, along with the carrier shipping label (for UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.) 
  • Amazon offers FBA Label Service where they offer to put the FBA label on the boxes for you at a rate of $0.55 per item. However, you will still be required to put carrier labels on each box, so this option doesn’t reduce as much work as it seems, on first blush. 
  • The freight can be sent to a 3PL, such as Kaspien, for prep services including proper division for multiple FBA warehouses and appropriate packaging of products. During this process, your 3PL will apply the FBA box label and carrier shipping label. 

The box level label contains: 

  • A scannable barcode 
  • Amazon’s shipment ID code 
  • Quantity of each SKU 
  • Weight of each box 
  • Dimensions of each box 
  • Expiration date for each SKU if topical, consumable, or digestible

Other box level considerations include: 

  • REMOVE ANY OTHER SHIPPING LABELS OR MARKINGS when reusing boxes from previous shipments. Amazon is unwilling to decipher which barcode is the correct and this can result in misdirected or unreceived product. Only the FBA shipment label and carrier labels for the current shipment should be visible. 
  • Both the FBA shipment label and carrier label must remain uncovered so they are scannable and legible. 
  • Place shipment labels in a way that’s easy to visually locate on the top or side of the box. Amazon prefers side placement. 
  • DO NOT place shipment labels on the seam of the box. The barcodes need to be scannable even once the box has been opened. Placing labels along the seam can cause damage to the barcode. 
  • DO NOT USE: 
  • Any type of packing peanuts. They’re the glitter of the warehouse world! They get everywhere and become hazardous quickly! 
  • Shredded paper, for similar reasons as packing peanuts 
  • Crinkle wrap 

Item Label Considerations 

These labels contain a scannable barcode to be placed on each individual item within the box or on kits and bundles that are sold as one unit. Not all items require an item label, but if Amazon states your product needs a label, the items will not be received without them. Items that will be required to have this label every time are products that don’t have a UPC and items that expire. There is a long list of details to consider, but below is a list of the most common and important elements to consider. 

  • Cover the original manufacturer’s barcode (UPC, EAN, ISBN). No other barcodes can be scannable. The only exceptions are serial number barcodes and Transparency authentication codes. 
  • All labels need to be removable by the customer 
  • DO NOT use folded labels 
  • DO NOT wrap labels around corners or curves because this effects scannability 
  • DO NOT use QR codes on labels because not all scanners that Amazon uses are able to read them 
  • Periodically test the scannability of barcodes. If they cannot be scanned, your inventory will not be added to FBA 

Expiration and Best By Dates 

Amazon has had a larger focus recently on expiration dates, now requiring all newly added and updated products to acknowledge whether the item expires or not. Expirable items include topical, consumable, or digestible items that need to be removed from FBA once that date is reached. This information is also important to consumers to know once it’s in their hands.  

Keep in mind that just because the FDA doesn’t require a “sell by” date on your product, does not mean that Amazon won’t insist on it. The routing guides linked in the resource section above have a chart that shows common products that require displayed expiration dates. Dates can be formatted in any of the following ways: 

  • MM-YYYY 

Packaging By Product Type 

The packaging that you use to send your products to customers from your own facilities might not work when using FBA. Amazon has set guidelines to ensure the safety of their employees and the efficiency of the sorting, storing and shipping processes. The routing guides above breaks down how to ship glass, liquid, plush, and sharp items as well as the special considerations for using specific types of packing materials. Instead of reiterating everything that’s already been written, I’m going to highlight a few larger considerations for packaging. 

It’s mentioned above, but it’s important enough to highlight again what packaging is 100% unacceptable to send into FBA: 

  • Any type of packing peanuts 
  • Crinkle paper 
  • Shredded paper 

Poly Bagging and Shrink Wrap

Poly bagging or shrink wrap can be used for pack-sized, bundled, liquid, fabric or plush items. Bags must be completely sealed, and barcodes need to remain scannable. There are thickness and dimension requirements to consider, and the bags must be transparent and sport a clearly marked suffocation warning label. These are both great options to double-seal your products. 

Bubble Wrap

This packaging solution is required when shipping glass, breakable or sharp items via FBA. Wrap items completely, leaving nothing uncovered because your items have to pass the 3-foot drop test without breaking or leaking. This test includes the following 5 drops onto hard surfaces: 

  • Flat on base 
  • Flat on top 
  • Flat on longest side 
  • Flat on shortest side 
  • On a corner 

Demystifying Amazon Packing Requirements 

As you’ve seen, there’s much to consider when attempting to understand and comply with FBA prep guidelines. The most important thing is to stay informed by checking Amazon’s help pages periodically and understand how changes impact your specific products and process.  

If you’re hoping to tackle this process in-house, take the time to understand what requirements apply to your product. If that process seems daunting, reach out to a trusted partner, such as Kaspien, for any level of prep help that you deem necessary. Every question you have about Amazon packing requirements has been asked before and the answer is out there! 

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More About the Author

Ariel Dearth