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Save Time and Increase Profits with Fulfillment By Amazon

By: Chris Green, CEO FBA Power

1. FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) Explained

If you sell online, then you have likely already heard of Amazon’s fulfillment program called FBA. If you haven’t heard of FBA, well then the cat’s out of the bag now. Sellers have been leveraging FBA program for several years and the sellers who have embraced this new service and taken advantages of its capabilities have enjoyed a nice margin and truly transformed their businesses. Entering its’ fourth year, FBA stands for Fulfillment By Amazon and it is Amazon’s version of a fulfillment company. Now fulfillment companies have been around for a long time providing storage and shipping services for their clients’ products, but what makes FBA different is that Amazon is also the marketplace for those items so they have an active interest in seeing the items sell. Additionally, FBA items are eligible for Amazon’s shipping promotions including Free Super Saver Shipping and Amazon Prime. This is what makes FBA incredibly powerful.

Even if you don’t currently use FBA and even if you don’t ever want to use FBA, it is important to understand how FBA works and how your competition is using FBA in their business.

2. The Triple Win

FBA can be described as a Triple Win.

Win #1. Higher prices, higher margins, higher payouts

Since items sold through FBA are eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping and Amazon Prime, FBA sellers actually raise their prices to match their competitor’s total price (price+shipping). So even with the addition of FBA fees, the FBA seller still receives a higher net payout from their Amazon sale because of the higher sales price. For example, a seller who ships their own orders who sells an item for $20 with $5 shipping will show the same as an FBA seller selling the exact same item for $25. Actually, the FBA seller will show first because FBA is the tie breaker.

Win #2. Less work

FBA sellers sell items 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. Items ship all hours of the day or night including weekends. They ship whether the seller is at home or on vacation. Once an FBA seller prepares their items for the FBA warehouse and sends them to Amazon, they don’t have to do anything else. They can monitor inventory levels and adjust prices as needed from anywhere with an internet connection.  They don’t have to stock boxes, envelopes, packing materials, or shipping labels anymore. They also don’t wait around for their UPS driver or go to the post office every day.

Win #3. Happier Customers

It is estimated that 40-50% of Amazon buyers have never bought from a third party merchant. Amazon customers want to buy from FBA sellers. They trust Amazon and they know that their items will ship quickly and if there is ever a problem, Amazon will help (including an extended return policy). When your items are shipped through FBA (either for Amazon orders or Basic Fulfillment orders) they will attract these types of Amazon buyers who are willing to pay more to get their items shipped by Amazon. This is an important point to grasp: Amazon customers are willing to pay more for the exact same item if it comes from Amazon or an FBA seller. They do this because they know they will get their item fast and that customer service will be top notch.

3. Scalability Helps Small Sellers

The competitive advantages that the big sellers have enjoyed for years have vanished overnight with the introduction of FBA. A new seller on Amazon may make some good money by selling items out of their garage in their spare time, but if they wanted to make a real income they would have to scale up and get more space to handle more inventory and hire employees to help with all of the orders. Now they may make more money but they have additional overhead. There are two things that have kept small sellers small and those are space and time limitations.

As a small seller, you only have so much space in which to store products and you only have so much time to list, sell, and ship your orders. Ten orders a day can be fun. Twenty may get you excited. But can you fulfill 300 orders in a day? --Day after day? And shut down your entire business if you ever wanted to go on vacation?

With FBA, you can grow as big as you want. FBA removes the space and time limitations and allows you to compete on the same playing field as the big, established sellers on day one. There are no scalability restrictions with FBA. If you have access to products, you could sign up with FBA and ship them fifty thousand products in one day and be selling 500 items a day within the week. Manage your inventory properly and you could run an FBA empire from a studio apartment.

4. How Amazon Describes FBA

Amazon describes FBA this way:

With this innovative service, you send inventory directly to Amazon where it is stored and managed in a secure, climate-controlled facility. When orders are received, Amazon will professionally pick, pack and ship the product directly to your customer.

Amazon.com processes millions of orders a year while consistently ranking as one of the most trusted and highest customer satisfaction rated e-commerce companies. To maintain this unique combination, we have developed one of the most advanced online order processing and fulfillment operations in the world. From the advanced web-to-warehouse, high-speed picking and sorting system to our complete shipping carrier integration, Amazon's technology results in your customers getting what they ordered, when they ordered it.

Whether you're considering just a few items and shipments a week or millions of products and orders per year, you can put Amazon's expertise and experience to work for your business with Fulfillment by Amazon.

Put Amazon's Fulfillment Technology to Work for You.

You sell it, we ship it. Amazon has created one of the most advanced fulfillment networks in the world, and your business can now benefit from our expertise. With Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) you store your products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products.

Enjoy these benefits when you use Fulfillment by Amazon.

Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping & Amazon Prime

Customers love FREE Super Saver Shipping and Amazon Prime. FBA Listings on Amazon.com feature these delivery messages increasing awareness of product eligibility for free shipping.

Competitive Pricing:

Your FBA listings on Amazon.com are sorted by the item price without a shipping cost. Amazon assumes they will ship for free with FREE Super Saver Shipping or Prime, which gives you an edge when competing!

Trusted Customer Service and Returns:

FBA listings are displayed with the "Fulfillment by Amazon" logo, so customers know that packing, delivery, customer service and returns are all handled by Amazon.

Fulfill Orders from other Channels:

FBA can fulfill your orders from other sales channels from your inventory stored at an Amazon fulfillment center. You manage your inventory through a simple online user interface, and can direct us to return the inventory in our fulfillment centers at any time.

5. FBA Fees

There are fees that are associated with FBA. These fees include:

Inbound Shipping Fee

This is the cost of getting your items to the FBA warehouse. Amazon lets you use UPS partnered shipping so you get Amazon UPS rates which you can probably imagine are the best in the world. A 50 pound box typically ships for around $9-$15 depending on how close you are to your nearest fulfillment center. You can also arrange LTL shipments or choose your own shipper.

Amazon Commission

The varies depending on the categories that you sell in.

Handling Fee (for non-media items) – See chart

Pick & Pack Fee – See chart

Weight Based Fee – See chart

Storage Fee

Storage fees are very low and the first 30 days are free. You can manage your FBA inventory levels and replenish your inventory as needed to keep 30 days worth of sales in stock to prevent paying any FBA storage fees. Even if you do end up paying storage fees, you’ll find that they are very reasonable.



6. Creating a Shipment:

Amazon has a great five page PDF outlining the entire process:


7. Pricing Your FBA Items

There are additional fees associate with FBA, but you will also sell your items for a higher price so in most cases you will actually receive a higher net payout per transaction even though you have additional transaction fees. This would seem impossible considering the fact that by using FBA you are also doing less work and a keeping your customers happier by providing faster shipping services than you could provide yourself.

8. Downside to FBA

Even with all the positive things that FBA allows sellers to do, there are some things to keep in mind when deciding if you are going to send all or some of your inventory to an FBA warehouse.

Return Policy

Amazon handles customer service for all FBA orders. Amazon is very conscientious about keeping their customers happy. They will allow a customer to return an item for any reason. This opens the door for abuse sometimes and there are instances where a customer takes advantage of this policy at the expense of your inventory.

If you find that you are receiving a higher rate of return on an item that is affecting your target margins, you will have to evaluate the item compatibility with FBA. You can raise your price to compensate or you can try to sell the item on other channels and ship your orders from your FBA inventory using Basic Fulfillment. You may even decide that the product is no longer a good match for FBA and you can request that Amazon return the products to you.

International Orders

Currently, Amazon will ship your books and media items internationally for you at no extra charge (customer pays shipping). If you sell items from other categories on Amazon, they will not be eligible for international shipping (through Amazon direct sales or Basic Fulfillment). I would expect that Amazon will offer this service in the future.

Amazon as a Competitor

When selling on Amazon using FBA, you may enjoy a time of being the only FBA seller for an item. This is an ideal situation but it doesn’t always last. Other sellers can list their FBA inventory and start to drive the price down. Sometimes you may be selling an item that Amazon does not currently carry and have a type of exclusivity. In the event that Amazon starts to carry these products directly, they may be able to sell them at lower margins that you are comfortable with. In cases like this, you can try to sell your items on other channels and use Basic Fulfillment until you are out of inventory, or even request to have your inventory removed. Then re-evaluate the item considering your costs and profit margin goals.

Unfulfillable Inventory

If a customer returns an item, Amazon will determine if the item can be resold or not. If it can be resold, it will be added to your existing FBA inventory. If not, it will be marked as ‘unfulfillable’ and you will have to request that it be returned to you or destroyed. Best Practice is to remove your entire unfulfillable inventory once a month or so. You may find that items were damaged or that there was nothing wrong with your items. Just reprocess them to your FBA account if they are still in sellable condition.

Lost/Missing/Damaged Inventory

Occasionally you may find that some of your inventory is missing. Sometimes they do lose it, and sometimes it just takes a long time to receive it. If Amazon loses or damages your inventory, they will compensate you for the items.

9. FBA Vendor Feature: FBAPower

As more and more sellers begin to utilize FBA for all or part of their business, third party providers will surely enter the market with dedicated FBA applications. One of the first of these companies to provide sellers with a one-stop FBA solution is FBAPower. They provide direct FBA listing as well as re-pricing and mobile price scanning. Originally designed to process and submit books and media items efficiently to FBA, they have recently added the ability to replenish inventory, upload and batch convert merchant fulfilled listings into FBA listings, and create original listings from within the FBAPower program.

FBAPower also offer a mobile scouting tool that allows users to quickly see all of the competitive pricing information for any product in the Amazon catalog. Billed as ‘The Ultimate Arbitrage Tool’, the scout allows the user to easily identify any item that represents an opportunity for profit on Amazon.


FBAPower Program
One-touch inventory processing (in under 30 seconds).
Enter an item, select condition, select price, add custom condition notes, print and affix FBA label, place in box for shipping.
Web-based for ease of use and maximum compatibility.
FBAPower can be run on multiple terminals allowing large sellers to work on multiple shipments at the same time.

Fulfillment Center Identification
Fulfillment centers are identified as you process items so that you can divide your items as you go.

Bulk Inventory Upload and FBA Conversion
Users can upload their existing Amazon inventory and convert to FBA in bulk.

Instant and Individual FBA Label Printing

FBA labels are printed on demand as items are processed for shipping to Amazon.
Reduces the number of times an item is 'touched' during processing.
Reduces the possibility of items being mislabeled.

Pricing Data Provided

5 lowest offers in New Condition.
5 lowest offers in Used Condition (with condition noted).
All FBA seller offers.
Amazon offer (if sold by Amazon).
Amazon sales rank displayed
Total number of marketplace offers
Prices formatted as FBA net (price + shipping) for books and media items. 
FBA sellers can easily see what they are competing against.
Color coded for easy reading.
Total pricing picture allows sellers to price their items competitively; even when the marketplace becomes inefficient (all used offers higher than new offers due to automated re-pricing programs that don't work well combined with listing programs that only compare 'like-condition' prices).

Built-in Error Catching

When multiple results are returned for UPC or ISBN searches, FBAPower will alert the user to verify the item that the user wants to list. Incorrect items can be deleted. Eliminates the possibility of sending mismatched items to FBA. Catches CD vs DVD, Import vs. Domestic, DVD vs. VHS, DVD vs. Blu-Ray and more. Example below.

The Scout can be paired with a Bluetooth laser barcode scanner for fast and accurate data entry. Alternately the camera can be used to capture UPC codes, or they can be entered by voice command or by manual touchpad. Once a UPC, ISBN, or ASIN is entered, the scout returns the Amazon product title, image, sales rank, 5 lowest new offers, 5 lowest used offers (with conditions noted), 5 lowest FBA seller offers, and the Amazon price (if available). These prices are formatted as what FBAPower calls ‘FBA NET’ meaning that the price displayed is the sales price + shipping. This allows the FBA seller to quickly see what they are competing against since their items will be listed with FBA and eligible for free shipping.

A New Era of Mobile Scouting.

Runs on Android OS (iPhone next). Android on all major US carriers.

The Ultimate Arbitrage Tool - identifies any market opportunity for any item in the Amazon catalog.

Live, accurate pricing data.

No database of prices to download or maintain.

Integrated with FBAPower - save items that you buy for easy upload to FBAPower program. No need to scan everything twice.


Search by UPC, ISBN, or ASIN

Scout returns: Title, Author, Amazon Price, Sales Rank, & Total Offers

Five Lowest New Prices

Five Lowest Used Prices
*with conditions noted


All Prices Returned as ‘FBA NET’
*$3.99 added to Merchant Fulfilled Offers for Books
*$2.98 added to Merchant Fulfilled Offers for Media Items
*Amazon Prices and FBA Seller Prices Shown as the Listed Price

Enter Data by Bluetooth Laser Scanner, Manually, Built-in Camera, or by Voice.

Click ‘BUY’ to keep track of the items you purchase. Tallies kept at the bottom of your screen. Upload directly to your FBAPower account for faster processing.

New features coming soon including:

Re-Pricer designed for FBA Sellers
(designed to maximize visibility and margin)

International alerts and integration
(send your FBA inventory to the best international market)

Multi-Channel Listing with Automated Basic Fulfillment
(expand to other online channels while maintaining FBA automation)

UPDATE:  Since this article was written FBAPower has changed their name to ScanPower.  You can find more information on their website: http://www.scanpower.com

FBA Links

Amazon – Fulfillment By Amazon


FBA Fees (PDF Download)


FBA Warehouse Tour (video)


Amazon FBA FAQ


Amazon Seller Community Forums


Amazon Seller Community Forums – FBA


Yahoo Groups – BooksellersFBA


Using FBA eBook


FBAPower (now called ScanPower)– FBA Focused Seller Services


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