|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3040 - April 10, 2013 - ISSN 1539-5065 2 of 5|
Sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and don't properly prepare their shipments will find themselves facing new fees as Amazon launches "Unplanned Services," which will go into effect May 21, 2013.
In an email to sellers, Amazon explained Unplanned Services as "a new option for when you are unable to prep or package your products yourself, and do not choose a planned service such as the FBA Label Service." Unplanned services "may include activities we perform such as labeling, bagging, poly bagging, and taping in order to make products ready for safe and efficient storage and delivery."
Sellers can already opt to have Amazon label their FBA shipment items on their behalf, a service for which they pay Amazon, but for those who do not opt in to the FBA Label Service and who don't properly label or otherwise prepare their shipments, Amazon will charge a fee of $0.40 per unit.
However, in the first instance a seller ships inventory that is missing required labels, "in case it wasn't your intention to use the Unplanned Service," Amazon will only charge a fee of $0.20 per unit to label them. "This is equivalent to the fee already charged for voluntarily using FBA Label Service," it wrote in the email to merchants.
In addition, to give sellers time to adjust to the changes and "understand the potential impact on your business, starting April 02, 2013 we will display the unplanned Labeling services we perform on your behalf and preview the fees within your Seller Central account."
The new fees are likely a response to sellers who do not properly comply with Amazon's labeling and packing requirements, causing Amazon to step in and fix the problem once the shipment is received.
Amazon provided links to the detailed prep requirements in the email, which involve not only proper labeling of items but also polybagging and otherwise packaging certain types of products when necessary, such as items sold as a set. Amazon said it encouraged sellers to take the time to understand FBA Inventory Requirements. Sellers can also view videos of how to properly package and label various types of products for shipment at Amazon's Packaging and Prep Requirements page.
Several sellers took the news in stride, noting they believed many sellers were not properly following the guidelines. In a thread about the Unplanned Services announcement on the Amazon Seller Discussion Forums, one seller wrote, "If you're careful with your shipments to FBA, these new fees should not affect you. The fact of the matter is that correcting these problems does cost Amazon time and money. It's not surprising they will charge for it."
"I do not think it is going to affect me at all," wrote another. "Whenever I asked for Labeling service, I made my packages as simple as possible for them. They still managed to lose an item or two at times, but at least they paid for those although sometimes not as much as buyers would have paid. Whenever I sent in labeled products, I made it easy for FBA to find all the labels on all products."
One seller wrote that they believed polybagging was the most violated of Amazon's requirements: "Many sellers don't read the polybagging requirements. They are quite detailed in the areas of toys, plush, baby products, etc. I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands of products that should be polybagged by the seller but were not."
About the author:
Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.
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