Products with expiration dates are like fussy relatives: no matter where you take them, they’re always going to require special attention. Even when you’re handling selling on your own website, time-sensitive products are tricky. Since everyone knows that Amazon is all about streamlining and consistency, selling these products through FBA requires both an eye for detail and a process that emphasizes efficiency.
In this blog, we’ve outlined the basic FBA rules you’ll have to follow as a seller of time-sensitive products. The nice thing is, these rules can be helpful in selling on your own site as well. Amazon uses these guidelines for a reason, and implementing them may increase the consistency of your own processes. Think of it this way: if you learn that your fussy relative doesn’t like spicy food or crowds, it’s easy enough to know not to take them to a Mexican street festival.
Since Amazon takes into account both the shipping of items and the consumption of items by customers, this means “Best By” and “Sell By” are considered one and the same. It also means that any item within 50 days of its expiration date will be disposed of (or a removal order will be created for the items).
You should also keep in mind that if you are selling an item like vitamins, you must consider the time it takes to consume the product. So, if it’s a bottle of 60 pills, Amazon’s disposal date would be 110 days before expiration.
It goes without saying that you’ll always want to aim to send items with plenty of time before they expire, so that you don’t end up losing your window to sell. However, it’s important to note that Amazon only accepts items with 105 days or more before expiration, so anything less than that should be sold through other methods like FBM (fulfilled by manufacturer).
Amazon always wants to make their processes more efficient, and part of this means being sticklers for easy quality control. When it comes to time-sensitive items, expiration dates must be printed clearly on outer boxes (font size 36 or larger), as well as each individual item. Keep in mind if you have outer packaging, like individual boxes or shrink wrap, the date must be visible on this outer packaging rather than simply the item inside.
Amazon also requires a particular arrangement of numbers – MM-DD-YYYY or MM-YYYY – on all of their items. If you have a different way of printing, you’ll have to cover that with a label that matches Amazon’s desired format. Depending on the volumes you sell on Amazon, it may be worth shifting your format to match theirs to save time in the future.
As you can see from looking at the basics, selling time-sensitive items can be a lot of extra work. Once you move towards Fulfillment by Amazon, it becomes even more complicated, though the process requirements are aimed at giving the end customer the best and freshest product available.
Whitebox works with a variety of clients who’ve faced challenges with respect to expiration dates, and is always willing to talk about working towards more efficient and reliable methods for your products.