Amazon FBA coaching guide for beginners

lofi illustration for FBA guide article lede

Looking to save time and reduce costs on inventory storage, order management, shipping, customer service, and other steps of ecommerce fulfillment? Here’s how to use Fulfillment by Amazon to launch or scale your business

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) can help you optimize and streamline your operations and reach a wider audience. Whether you’re new to selling online or an experienced seller, in this guide, we’ll walk you through how FBA works and how you can use it to grow sales.

What is FBA?

Fulfillment by Amazon is a program that helps Amazon sellers outsource fulfillment processes to Amazon. You can enroll inventory in FBA to store products in Amazon fulfillment centers. When customers place orders, Amazon can pack, ship, and provide customer service for the FBA items.

When you list products with FBA, the listings for qualified offers can display the Prime badge, letting customers know they’re eligible for free, two-day shipping. Here are some more perks:

  • Using FBA for shipment costs 32% less per unit on average compared to alternatives
  • FBA is a flexible program, letting you enroll as many (or as few) products as you’d like—you can even start with as little as one product
  • Amazon’s customer service team can handle customer inquiries and process returns at no additional charge

FBA also has tools and sub-programs to optimize your operations and meet specific business goals, such as Remote Fulfillment with FBA, which lets you fulfill orders in other countries with inventory in the United States. Another example is Amazon Global Logistics, which lets you ship inventory directly from China to the U.S. and European fulfillment centers with competitive rates.

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Learn how remote fulfillment with Amazon FBA works
Learn how the Remote Fulfillment with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program works. In this module, you’ll learn the benefits of the Remote Fulfillment with FBA program; how to determine if you and your products are eligible; and how to manage program, per-sale, and import fees.

How Amazon FBA works: 6 steps

Let’s cover how to use FBA to meet your business goals—from enrolling products to sending in your first shipment.

Did you know?
New FBA sellers can qualify for an array of incentives
New-to-Amazon sellers with a Professional selling plan can receive $100 in inventory shipping fee credits for the Amazon Partnered Carrier program, or $200 in fulfillment fee credits for Amazon Global Logistics. New sellers can also get free monthly storage, liquidations, and return processing for eligible products through FBA New Selection.

Step 1: Decide on a fulfillment strategy

You can use FBA to fulfill all the products you sell, or some of them, depending on your needs. You can even use FBA to fulfill orders from your other sales channels, such as your own website. Learn more about Multi-Channel Fulfillment and connect to your channels with pre-built applications or directly through APIs for order automation.

Step 2: Add products to FBA

Once you’ve decided what you want to send to Amazon fulfillment centers, enroll products in FBA from your Seller Central account by one of two methods:

Option 1: When adding new inventory, select “Amazon will ship and provide customer service (FBA)” in the “Offer” tab.

Option 2: If you’ve already added products and want to convert them to FBA, hover over Inventory in the Seller Central main menu and select “Manage Inventory.” Click the “Edit” drop-down menu to the right of any product you’d like to fulfill through Amazon and choose “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon.”

Whenever you add or convert products to FBA, be sure to double check you’ve entered product dimensions correctly to help avoid inventory issues down the road.

Pro Tip
Use FBA Small and Light for products under $12
Reduce costs for shipping small, lightweight orders by enrolling products in the FBA Small and Light program. Qualifying offers display a message saying “Free Prime shipping” and are available to Amazon Prime customers.

Step 3: Prep and pack products

To ensure a smooth check-in at Amazon fulfillment centers, be sure to follow FBA packaging, prep, and labeling guidelines and have these items handy when relevant:

  • Ship-from address
  • Product measurements
  • Case sizes
  • Boxes to ship the items in
  • Poly bags and bubble wrap
  • Shipping scale
  • Printer for labels
  • Avery 5160 or 8160 paper to print Amazon barcodes’
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Amazon FBA packaging, prep, and labelling requirements
Learn about the different requirements for Amazon FBA inventory, including barcode requirements, inventory requirements, packaging requirements, and labelling requirements.

Step 4: Ship products to an Amazon fulfillment center

When you’re ready to send inventory to fulfillment centers, follow the “Send to Amazon” workflow in Seller Central. Send to Amazon will outline next steps and provide best practices along the way to guide you through the shipping process.

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How to use the Send to Amazon tool
Understand the benefits of Amazon FBA’s new shipment-creation workflow, Send to Amazon, and when you should try it.

Reduce costs and further streamline your shipping operations by using Amazon Partnered Carriers to ship inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers. Eligible carriers offer deeply discounted rates with costs billed directly to your seller account as an inbound transportation charge. You’ll see your Partnered Carrier options in the Select Shipping Carrier section in step two of the Send to Amazon workflow. With Partnered Carriers, Amazon provides printable shipping labels and automatically uploads shipment tracking information.

How long does it take for products to check in at fulfillment centers? During standard business, inventory takes an average of two-to-four weeks to check in, then it will be available for purchase. During peak business periods, this process can take four-to-six weeks, so always ensure you’ve properly prepped and labeled shipments to help avoid issues or delays.

Learn the lingo
Send to Amazon workflow
You can send FBA shipments to Amazon fulfillment centers using the “Send to Amazon” workflow in Seller Central. Select the inventory you’d like to send, and the Send to Amazon workflow can give you prep and packing details while helping you coordinate delivery.

Step 5: Track inventory and manage stock levels

While you’ll be notified of orders that FBA is taking care of for you, keep an eye on inventory levels as you plan your shipping strategy. You can manage and review inventory from the FBA dashboard. Find the dashboard in Seller Central by opening the main menu, hover over “Inventory,” and select “Dashboard” under Fulfillment by Amazon.

Amazon FBA Dashboard Illustration

Use the “Shipments” tab to monitor shipments to fulfillment centers, or start the process of creating new shipments. Additionally, the “Inventory” tab lets you monitor, plan, and restock inventory. Managing your inventory remotely with FBA can help you start and scale your business quickly and efficiently.

Once your business is up and running with FBA, you can use the FBA Restock Inventory tool to take the guesswork out of inventory operations. It helps you plan shipment amounts and timeframes, and gives you custom recommendations based on sales history, demand forecast, seasonality, and replenishment settings. Customizing your replenishment settings can help you further streamline your business by optimizing factors like lead time, replenishment frequency, and supply chain settings.

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What is the FBA Restock tool?
Learn how to use the FBA Restock tool to manage your inventory!

Step 6: Look for ways to grow sales

Adding the Prime badge to listings with FBA can help boost sales by making offers attractive to shoppers thanks to free shipping and competitive delivery through FBA. According to one study, 84% of shoppers have made a purchase specifically because shipping was free.

With ecommerce, you also have the opportunity to promote online offers with sponsored ads and other advertising options.

How to become an Amazon FBA seller

To use FBA, sign up for an Amazon selling account by choosing a selling plan. Then, you can set up FBA in your account, and either create new listings or convert existing listings to FBA.

What are the requirements to be an Amazon FBA seller? Review the terms and conditions for becoming an Amazon seller, as well as requirements for adding inventory to FBA. You’ll also want to use the FBA revenue calculator to make sure the program will be a cost-effective option for your business.

FBA inventory requirements

Generally speaking, most products eligible for sale in the Amazon store will be eligible for FBA.

Some products may be eligible for sale on Amazon while not being eligible for FBA, or eligible with specific requirements. For example, alcoholic beverages and vehicle tires are not eligible for FBA. Similarly, dangerous goods, also known as hazmat, typically cannot be processed by FBA.

Also, if you sell products with expiration dates, be sure to review product-specific requirements related to shelf life before enrolling them in FBA.

Learn more about FBA inventory requirements.

FBA costs and fees

FBA uses a pay-as-you-go model, with storage and fulfillment fees charged per unit and per order. There’s no flat fee for using or enrolling products in FBA.

Costs are based on inventory fulfillment and operations, which can include:

  • Fulfillment fees: Based on product type, size, and shipping weight or dimensional weight.
  • Monthly storage fees: Based on product size, volume, average number of daily units stored, dangerous goods status, and the month of the year. Monthly inventory storage fee rates differ between the periods of January-through-September and October-through-December.
  • Aged inventory surcharges: Can apply to products stored in a fulfillment center for over 271 days. Surcharges are based on the total number of units, storage duration, applicable cubic-foot fees, and any applicable per-unit fees.
  • Unplanned service fees: Charged for items that have not been properly packaged or prepped and require additional prep before check-in at the fulfillment center.
Did you know?
Amazon’s fulfillment fees can save you money
Amazon’s fulfillment fees are 30% less expensive on average than slower standard shipping methods and an average of 70% less expensive than comparable two-day shipping alternatives.

More FBA tools and programs to help you grow

FBA Revenue Calculator

You can get a better sense of product profitability with the FBA Revenue Calculator, a preview tool that lets you compare revenue estimates for products based on what fulfillment channel you use. The calculator includes FBA fulfillment fees for items sold in Amazon stores as well as:

  • Referral fees
  • Variable closing fees
  • Monthly storage fees

Use the calculator to quickly find which fees apply to each fulfillment option, add sales volume estimates to calculate total proceeds and per-unit sold estimates, and more.

Buy with Prime

Brands selling products on a direct-to-consumer site can leverage FBA to offer customers fast shipping and a familiar, trusted experience through Buy with Prime. Add Buy with Prime to your direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel to offer customers Amazon Prime shopping benefits—including free one-to-two day shipping.

FBA Subscribe & Save

If you sell products customers buy regularly, like toiletries or other consumable goods, you can let them sign up to receive recurring, scheduled deliveries through FBA Subscribe & Save. The program lets you offer customers discounted pricing, free shipping, and automatic deliveries for convenience.

Get started and grow sales with FBA

Enrolling products in FBA can be a great way to grow your business, whether you’re getting started as an Amazon seller, or you’re established in ecommerce and looking for new opportunities to expand. To save time, simplify your shipping
strategy, and reach more customers, get started with FBA.

Learn more with the Amazon FBA course

Check out the FBA video playlist on YouTube for step-by-step instructions on getting started and sending your first shipment of inventory. You’ll also find overviews of FBA concepts, a tutorial for the Send to Amazon Workflow, and more.

Further FBA resources are available through Seller University, an online home for learning content to help with launching and growing your business.

FAQ: FBA for Beginners

Get answers to frequently asked questions about FBA
Q:
How does Fulfillment by Amazon work?
A:
Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, is a program you can use to prep and ship products to Amazon for storage and fulfillment. It allows you to manage inventory within Seller Central, where you can receive notifications for FBA orders Amazon associates fulfill on your behalf. Choose to enroll all of your offerings, or enroll select products in FBA while managing fulfillment for other products yourself. To learn more about how FBA can work as part of your ecommerce strategy, check out this fulfillment guide.
Q:
How do I start Amazon FBA?
A:
To get started with FBA, sign up as an Amazon seller and enroll products in the FBA program—either when you first list them, or by converting existing offers to Fulfilled by Amazon. Then you can use the Send to Amazon workflow to start sending inventory to Amazon centers for storage and fulfillment.
Q:
How do I use FBA if I sell in multiple countries?
A:
FBA allows you to sell in multiple countries with programs like Multi-Channel Fulfillment, Remote Fulfillment with FBA, and Amazon Global Logistics, depending on your business specifics, like location. For example, you can use Remote Fulfillment to fulfill orders in Canada or Mexico with United States-based inventory, and Multi-Channel Fulfillment to use the same inventory to fulfill orders from your other sales channels.
Q:
Can FBA boost sales?
A:
Yes, small- and medium-sized businesses using FBA have seen sales go up. New-to-Amazon sellers who use FBA in combination with other programs—the Perfect Launch playbook—generate 6.3X more first-year revenue on average compared to sellers who don’t.

Sam Aronson
Sam Aronson
Sam Aronson is a staff writer for Seller University, focused on creating educational content that helps Amazon sellers. Outside of work, Sam enjoys sewing, finding new restaurants, and curating the perfect playlist.