Every seller should expect that shipping products to FBA is systematic and smooth. The goods are shipped and verifiably received by Amazon. Then it’s not. There are damages, lost goods, Amazon fulfillment centers (FCs) gone rogue. These mistakes cost you sales and more than a few restless nights.
So, how can you take control of FBA shipments and inventory? It starts with being consistent and organized, even when busyness and demands create everyday distractions.
Taking control means clean-up, follow-up and getting familiar with reports
While you really can’t control every step of the shipment journey to Amazon fulfillment centers, you can control your record keeping and exactly how your products are packaged and shipped.
Few tips How can you take control of FBA shipments and inventory
Do not skimp or skip when affixing labels to your products. Each box, pallet and master carton need its own label. If boxes and cartons get separated from the shipments, more labels increase your odds that the products will find their way back into your inventory. It’s important to know that Amazon isn’t all that interested in taking the blame for shipments being lost or damaged. They rarely invest in a search effort. That means you lose money AND chances for reimbursement bottom out. Proper, liberal labeling practices give you inventory and reimbursement advantages.
Tidy up and track with intensity
Knowing what you send in and everything that goes out is critical. When the inevitable happens and inventory “disappears” or is dubbed damaged, proactive tracking and shipment clean-up will save you time and money. What is the incentive beyond sales? Reimbursements! If something is awry, and it can be proven, Amazon owes you money. Without tracking and a tidy, organized approach, you’re leaving money on the table.
Confirm no “commingling”
Getting your products successfully shipped to a FC isn’t all that difficult (typically) but not being aware that your products could be “commingled” is a quality nightmare – and a way to get hit for a counterfeit or other IP claim. Don’t do it. “commingling” basically means you can send your item into Amazon’s warehouse but that doesn’t necessarily mean your customer will get that specific item. It’s a generic or some other similar product. How to avoid this? Check in Seller Central and make sure “commingling” is unchecked. Navigate to “Settings” on your seller central account. Select “Fulfillment by Amazon,” then scroll down the page and look for “FBA product barcode preference.”
Use a designated driver
When business is crazy, it’s hard to do it all, especially shipments, FBA management and inventory reconciliation. We recommend you use a designated driver who knows the ropes. Assign one person (at minimum) to daily check, track, investigate and identify inventory issues. If that’s impossible, consider outsourcing these tasks to FBA and reimbursement experts. The process is daily, consistent, and well documented. It organizes the documents for easy access. Make sure to keep an organized digital file of each shipment. This file includes documents such as original invoices, tracking numbers and proof of deliveries, to signed bills of ladings. When Amazon makes a claim or decides you’re wrong, this paperwork is your only evidence that you’re right and they’re wrong.
Leverage Seller Central inventory reports
Within Seller Central, you can access and customize your inventory reports to see inventory quantities, SKU-level performance, even warnings related to product quality or suppressed products. You will see a number of reports. There are existing reports, plus customization options. You will find critical data in the Inventory/Managing FBA shipments and Inventory sections. For example, you can see products available, inbound, reserved or unfillable, and when they have arrived at a FC. You can find detailed insights by visiting Amazon Seller University.
Complement efforts with inventory management software
At some point, a growing seller needs to consider from manual inventory management to using inventory management software. This can simplify and expedite your inventory efforts and complement what is happening on the Amazon side of things. It also allows you to quickly compare Amazon’s records with your own. If there is a discrepancy, it’s a flag to investigate and potentially seek an Amazon reimbursement.
The summary of everything here is simple: Amazon is not all that worried about your inventory so it’s your job to ensure all shipments and inventory are precise before they hit a fulfillment center. By prepping first, verifying labels and being committed to knowing what is actually shipped and received, you get the upper hand and increased control, fewer fees and less problems. Accuracy also means Amazon can’t argue your case and you receive more Amazon reimbursements.
For help with inventory issues and Amazon – and how to increase reimbursements – let us know. We’re here to help.