Amazon FBA Prep Centers: All You Need To Know In 2023
If you are a seller who just started your Amazon business and have several orders, you can pack, label, and send them to the fulfillment center yourself. However, step by step, your business grows, and at a certain point, you find yourself spending hours processing packages instead of looking for profitable deals.
If that’s the case, your business has grown enough to outsource prep to an FBA prep center. A prep center helps you prepare your orders according to Amazon standards. They can also process returns, act as a warehouse, and offer many other fulfillment-related services. This post will reveal what services FBA prep centers provide and how to select a prep center.
What Is FBA Prep Center?
Prep centers are third-party service companies preparing inventory for fulfillment in line with Amazon guidelines and shipping it to Amazon fulfillment centers.
Preparing products under Amazon packaging and labeling guidelines involves a lot of work. You must create an FBA shipment, label products with Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit (FNSKU) barcode, properly package them, and afterward ship them to Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
Amazon can return the shipment you’ve sent to the FBA fulfillment center or repackage your product and charge you for that if a shipment doesn’t meet their prep requirements. That will cost you extra and can delay the order fulfillment.
Related: What Is Amazon FNSKU?
What Services Do Prep Centers Offer?
Preparation centers specialize in logistics. They prepare your products, properly package them, and ship them to the fulfillment center. They handle bubble wrapping, bagging, labeling, packaging, and shipping. They can also inspect your inventory and add marketing or other materials to the package.
Online arbitrage and wholesale sellers often send their products from the supplier directly to the prep center, where the inventory is prepped in line with the Amazon fulfillment standards and afterward shipped to Amazon.
Tip: For the dropshippers, sending products to a prep center is an excellent solution allowing them to comply with Amazon's dropshipping policy. Amazon doesn’t allow any signs of the third-party seller on order. A prep center removes them from the package and repackages the order in the dropshipper’s name.
What Prep Centers do?
Prep centers add your products to customized packaging according to Amazon standards and put them in boxes, master cartons, and palettes to make them end-user-ready.
Prep centers put products into an FBA-approved polybag. That is required if you have any loose items or units that can come apart.
Prep centers print and stick FNSKU labeling (unique Amazon barcode) on all units or poly bags and add labels to master cartons and palettes.
Prep centers add the same or different products into one package to create a bundle (a set of two complementary products sold as one) according to Amazon guidelines.
Prep centers print and attach suffocation warning labels or ‘Made in China’ stickers to all units or polybags in your order.
Prep centers unpack and inspect the shipments, ensure there are no missing items, and check their condition. The inspection process helps reduce the risk of defective items, customer returns, and refunds.
The prep center can store your inventory and act as a warehouse. Many sellers use that service because it can be cheaper than storing all inventory at an Amazon fulfillment center.
Adding marketing materials
Prep centers insert instruction manuals, ’Thank you’ cards, or other marketing materials into the packages at your request.
How To Select A Prep Center?
When choosing a prep center, it is important to find several providers with a convenient location, compare their prices and service packages, and select the option that works best for your business. The factors listed below will help you make the right choice.
7 Factors in selecting a Prep Center
If you sell online arbitrage products, sales tax may apply. Using a prep center in a sales tax-free state (Montana, Delaware, Oregon, or New Hampshire) can save you money. If you often source products from overseas, you can look for a prep center close to a port.
Prep centers offer different pricing models, including per-item fees or fixed monthly payments. As a rule, the price depends on the volume of your inventory and the size of the products. The smaller and lighter the products are, the lower is per-unit price. The US prep prices start from $1-2 per unit.
3. Product tracking
Select a prep center with reliable tracking software to monitor your products at every stage of the fulfillment process.
4. Storage facilities
In some prep centers, you can store your products. If storing inventory at a prep center is cheaper than in the Amazon fulfillment center, you can use the prep center’s warehouse for a specific time to save money.
5. Product features
If your inventory requires specific warehousing conditions, you must check if the prep center can provide them. For instance, not all prep centers are capable of processing dangerous goods (hazmat), paper books, etc.
6. Speed and processing time
Product processing time is crucial because you must quickly deliver orders. On average, the preparation time for Amazon FBA products must be 24 – 48 hours.
7. Inspection services
When considering a prep center, selecting the one offering inspection services is better. They will unpack and inspect the shipment, ensure there are no missing items, and check its condition. That helps reduce the risk of defective items, customer returns, and refunds.
How To Calculate Prep Center Cost?
For online arbitrage, wholesale sellers, and dropshippers who do product research, it’s essential to calculate all fees, including prep costs quickly. Seller Assistant App allows you to do that right on the Amazon product page. Seller Assistant App’s FBA & FBM Calculator lets you quickly calculate all essential product metrics, including prep cost.
The FBA&FBM calculator displays ‘Prep’ — preparation cost in the 'Fees and logistics costs' box.
A preparation center is an excellent solution to outsourcing prepping and shipping your inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers. That allows online arbitrage, wholesale sellers, and dropshippers to focus on product research and growing their business.
Product research is also done much more straightforwardly with seller tools. Seller Assistant App is an all-in-one extension incorporating features vital for product research. Advanced IP Alerts can immediately tell you if a product has any sales restrictions or has led to problems with account health in the past. It combines an FBM&FBA profit calculator, Quick View, Stock Checker, and Restrictions Checker in one tool.