One thing that I notice a lot when I am interacting in the online Amazon seller’s community, is questions and confusion about labeling for Amazon FBA.
Do I put my own label on, do I cover the existing UPC, can I put the label on the bubble wrap, what printer, do I co-mingle or not co-mingle, so many questions! I am going to try to clear this all up right here and now!
Amazon FBA Labels – Definitions
People get confused and mix up Bar codes, UPCs, ASINS and all the other names for product identifiers that are used on Amazon. Amazon uses several different numbers and codes to track your inventory. Each has a different purpose:
GTIN: Global Trade Identification Number is an umbrella term that includes all the numbers below. I only mention it because Amazon refers to it in Seller Central and when you see it mentioned it is referring to any of the below.
UPC. Stands for Universal Product Code. Every product sold on Amazon needs to have a unique identification and that identification is normally a UPC. Think about when you go grocery shopping and they scan the code and the product description and price come up on the display. They are normally scanning the UPC. You can walk into any grocery store in the country, pick up a tube of Crest toothpaste and the cash register will recognize what it is from the UPC because it is Universal.
While every product sold on Amazon has to have a UPC in order to create the listing, that does not mean that it needs to be printed on the item. In a grocery store yes, but on Amazon no.
ASIN. The Amazon Standard Identification Number(ASIN) is a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier assigned by Amazon for product identification within the Amazon organization.
When you open a case with Amazon, they always ask for the ASIN.
Seller SKU. This is a number that is auto generated for the merchant (you) to use as your own Merchant SKU. (SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit). You can also make it custom. Some people come up with a SKU naming system that allows them to tell when they created the SKU and the cost.
FNSKU. This is the code that Amazon generates and prints on your label as a scannable bar code.
When you print your label on your printer at home, you are not printing UPCs or even the Seller SKU. You are printing the FNSKU, with a barcode that Amazon will scan when they receive your shipment. This barcode is generated by Amazon and when the Receivers scan it they will know what it is and who it belongs to.
However, if you are creating a product page for an item that does not already exist on Amazon requires a UPC when you create the listing. This mostly affects PL items and Bundles. Most sellers use a third party company such as Speedy Bar Codes to obtain their UPC’s in bulk. These UPCs are bought in packs of 5, 10, 100, 1000 or more and are relatively cheap to buy. However, this practice should be phased out of your business now as Amazon is rejecting more and more of these listings. It is far better to apply for a UPC Exemption from Amazon. I do this for all my new bundles now.
Some people think that Amazon now requires you to buy your UPC’s from GS1. Well, that is not true. At least not at this time.
However, the GS1 database does come into play now when you create a new listing on Amazon. Amazon is now cross checking the UPC you entered against the GS1 database to make sure that the UPC you are using actually does belong to the registered owner of the Brand you are saying you have permission to sell. This only affects people who are trying to list an item that already has a UPC and that Brand owner is registered with GS1.
What is Stickerless Co-mingling?
You will find this screen in the top right hand corner of Seller Central under Settings>Fulfillment by Amazon>Inventory Settings
I highly, highly, highly recommend to DISABLE stickerless co-mingling of inventory like I have here. When you choose stickerless co-mingling, Amazon is basically mixing your items with items from other sellers, and when someone buys from your buy box, they might get your item that you sent in, but probably not.
It is only an advantage if you sell counterfeit items (not recommended) or if you suck at prepping your items and hope that the customer ends up with my item instead of yours. (Read how I prep here).
I aim to send FBA items in perfect condition that are well prepped. So if someone buys from my Buy Box, I do not want them getting the item from another seller who doesn’t put in the extra bit of effort. Last month I had only 2 returns for $10,000 in sales and they were both for reasons of ‘found it cheaper elsewhere’. I can accept that. I also do not want my buyer to get a potentially counterfeit item from another seller. Many people had their accounts suspended last year for selling counterfeit Disney items (think Frozen Elsa dolls!) even though they sent in legitimate purchases. The big downfall of co-mingling your inventory!
So if I have hopefully convinced you to not use stickerless co-mingling then yes, you must label your items (or get Amazon to print them for 20 cents each). You will need the following items to accomplish this:
- A way to print your labels
- All the other usual packing/prepping materials
Labeling with laser printer or inkjet printer (I did this for 6 months!)
Since I don’t know if you are using Inventory Lab, Scanpower, or whatever else is out there, I will just assume you are new and trying this out and using Seller Central to list, label and ship. It is perfectly acceptable for newbies like us!
You will need these removable Avery 30 up labels. Amazon requires removable labels. They also say you must use a laser printer, but when I started all I had was an inkjet and no money. I spoke to a rep at seller central and was told the reason for laser was so the label wouldn’t smudge or run. So I put clear tape over my labels to prevent that issue.
So let’s say you have gone through your Manage Inventory view and selected items for Send/Replenish. The next step is to Create a new Shipping Plan (or add to existing). After you fill in the chart as to how many you are sending, you will have the opportunity to Print Labels. I make them into a pdf and then print to my Avery Labels.
Labeling with Dymo printer (recommended)
I am so happy, happy with my Dymo 450 Turbo printer! I don’t know why I waited so long, it has made the whole process so much simpler for me. The bonus is that it comes with software so it also prints custom labels. Now I can print “This is a Set, Do Not Separate” and Grocery expiry date labels on the fly as I am working. Beautiful!
You will need labels, the printer comes with a small roll of labels that are not the right size. I use these Dymo compatible 2-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ labels because they are way cheaper.
I use a program called AZlabels because I find it more convenient to use than Amazon’s Scan and Ship feature. It only costs a few dollars a month and there is a free version that is perfect for brand new sellers. I have the Premium unlimited plan and it is a small price to pay to ease up my workflow issues.
How to use the Amazon FBA Labels
So now you have your labels and this part is the same whether you use the Avery labels or the Dymo labels.
- Boxed item with UPC code. Cover the existing UPC code with your label
- Boxed item with super large UPC code. Cover the code with a blank label or 2 labels if required, then put your label on top of the white space created.
- Stretch wrapped item with code still showing through. Cover that UPC code with either a suffocation label or your label.
- Stretch wrapped item with no UPC code showing through. Put your label right on there.
- Grocery item multipack. This should be in a poly bag. Be sure no UPC’s are showing, or cover them all with a blank label before bagging. You will also need 3 other labels which I print on my Dymo at the same time I print my regular label. You will need the suffocation label (unless your poly bags are like these), a ‘This is a Set’ label, and the ‘Expiry Date’ label.
- Bundles. Either strategically pack your bundle so no labels show or cover all UPC’s with a blank label before bundling. You will need your label, and possibly the Suffocation label and This is a Set label, depending on the bundle contents.
I hope that this helps to clear up your thoughts on labeling your items!
One last thing, the shipping label on the box. You know how it says “Do Not Cover this Label”? It means do not obscure it. Go ahead and cover it with clear packing tape to protect it. Your welcome! 🙂