Here are 3 solutions for FBA shipment restrictions. that any Amazon seller can implement. On 3/17/2020 Amazon dropped a bombshell on most Amazon third-party FBA sellers by restricting the ability to create shipments to FBA warehouses for non-essential categories. Amazon is attempting to meet the soaring demand of day-to-day staple products for American consumers that are stranded at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This restriction is supposed to last until 4/4/2020 if all things go well. Therefore, FBA sellers need to quickly figure out a way to maintain the same level of sales revenue or reduce any potential shortfalls in sales. Not being able to sustain during this unexpected roadblock can mean a severe downfall for many FBA sellers who worked extremely hard to settle into their current marketplace position.
If you are one of the FBA sellers affected by this development, this guideline is for you.
The first step in the 3 solutions for FBA shipment restrictions is discovery. In case you are not 100% sure if you can ship any of your products to FBA, make sure to create an FBA shipment of all your ASINs to discover which exact ones are currently blocked and not eligible for being shipped to FBA. If most or all your ASINs are good to go, great – we hope that by reading this blog post it has already made it worth your while! If you have blocked ASINs, keep on reading the guidelines below.
Even if some or most of your ASINs are blocked from being shipped to FBA until 4/4/2020, the next step is to determine if you should switch some, or all your Amazon listings to FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) mode so you do not lose any sales. Run a quick FBA inventory analysis to identify any potential ASINs that will last in-stock at least until 4/18/2020. This calculation is assuming that it will take 1-2 weeks for your FBA shipments to become in-stock on FBA once Amazon hopefully lifts the restriction on 4/4/2020. If there are any ASINs that will not last in-stock until 4/18/2020, you will have to set them up on FBM mode so you do not lose sales and momentum.
Once you have identified the ASINs that need to be set on FBM mode, next comes the step of figuring out if you can do FBM yourself, or set up FBM with a 3rd party logistics (3PL) provider, or a combination of both. At this point make sure to: Choose your status and then keep reading from there…
Your own warehouse – by now you should have already taken the first steps of selling your product via FBM when reading these lines. If not, this is your wake-up call. A good practice is to set up a designated area in the warehouse so once this temporary crisis has passed, your warehouse will promptly go back to normal activity. If you are short on bins space for picking and packing your inventory, a simple tip is to spread the inventory on folding plastic tables and stack them on top of each other. Use the height of the empty air space in your facility. Basically, it allows you to quickly create a temporary modular bin space anywhere you need it. You can manage the FBM orders that come in via the current software you use, or the Amazon Seller Central module, or third-party software like Shipstation. Shipstation has a 30-day free trial, which should hopefully cover the time frame to survive this crisis. Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) is usually the easiest to achieve if you have your own warehouse. If you can ensure your FBM products are listed on SFP mode, you will be on a great path to making it through this storm like a champ.
Using a 3PL – Make sure to promptly contact your 3PL and have them set up your inventory on FBM mode. Many 3PLs use their own shipping management systems to connect to Amazon seller Central via API so your Amazon orders populate right into their system and get smoothly fulfilled. If your 3PL does not have such a system in place, there is an option to create a Limited User Amazon Seller Central access to your 3PL and set permissions for them to only be able to ship incoming FBM orders. Another option is to use a shipping software system like Shipstation which has a 30-day free trial which should hopefully cover the time frame to survive this crisis.
Find a 3PL – If you source your products from overseas like China, for example, you should contact your factory and work hand-in-hand with them on setting up your products to be listed on FBM mode. The ASINs you list on FBM mode should reflect the time frame it will take to ship it from your factory directly to the Amazon customer. Most factories in China already ship to the USA on a regular basis with good rates and top speed of a few days or up to a week. If you want to be able to be physically close to where your products are being stored and fulfilled in the USA, you can just Google for logistics warehouses in your area. Once you identify a warehouse you are comfortable with, get your inventory there ASAP and set up shop with no delay. If you can store your product anywhere in the states or overseas, the following are a handful of a few very active logistics companies that operate in the Amazon fulfillment space that should be able to assist you in setting you up on your desired FBM needs one way or another: Deliverr, Swan Packaging Fulfillment, Warehouse Republic, Unicargo, Freightos, AMZ Transit, AJ Worldwide, FellowShip, and DCL Logistics. Whatever 3PL you finally settle on, make sure to ask and check if they have good volume discounts on carrier rates which can be a great way to reduce your overall FBM shipping costs.
FBM ASIN Setup
Whichever FBM mode you will be operating on, make sure to re-list these ASINs on Seller Central with a designated SKU format. A recommended way to do it is the FBM/dash/SKU format. For example, if the name of your SKU is “corona-face-mask”, your FBM SKU should look like this: “FBM-corona-face-mask.” Identifying the FBM SKUs on your inventory catalog will prove to be very effective with smoothly managing your Amazon product catalog across other functions. One of the most important functions is….. Your PPC campaigns! That being said, make sure to create another PPC campaign layer that will cover all the new FBM SKUs that you created. If your FBA SKUs are out of stock, these SKUs will become inactive on your PPC campaign and you will only be able to advertise your products if you make sure to set up your FBM SKUs on a new designated PPC campaign. If you forget to do this, you will end up losing valuable traffic into your listing and lose Best Seller Rank (BSR) momentum. If you are a reseller that is competing for the buybox, make sure to set up the new FBM SKUs on your repricer software so it can continue to compete on price with no interruptions.
A crucial note for the 3 solutions for FBA shipment restrictions. As an eCommerce seller, you always need to make sure you have enough cash available to keep you afloat when facing any unexpected challenges. If you sense that you are about to experience financial difficulty due to an expected downturn in sales revenue from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic business interruptions, you should consider reaching out to financial institutions that can assist you with your cash flow needs. Obstacles such as Amazon restrictions, suppliers potentially out of stock, being physically quarantined, and more may warrant you to set yourself to become more financially sound during these turbulent times. A few potential financial institutions in this space are SBA and Behalf.
The 3 solutions for FBA shipment restrictions are designed to offer an alternative FBA route that will assist you in continuing to sell your products on Amazon, with minimal to no interruptions during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, will prove to be extremely valuable. This will ensure that your business survives, and become better prepared for any additional challenges down the road.
We hope that you find this quick guideline helpful in passing this roadblock smoothly. If any questions or further advice is needed, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck, and stay safe and healthy out there!
If your sales have been affected by COVID-19, now would be the best time to secure any financial recovery. If you need help securing FBA reimbursements, click on the Sign-Up link for GETIDA below: