Lessons Learned In Business

The Tools and Supplies I Recommend for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Amazon FBA Tools and Supplies
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When starting out selling on Amazon, there are many tools and supplies you’ll need.  There is so much out there, how do you know what you REALLY need?  Since I’ve been sending things to Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) since 2009, I have found certain things are must haves for sending shipments to Amazon.  There are also some tools and supplies that will make shipping amazon packages immensely simpler.  When starting out, a lot of people really want to take the profits out right away.  If you are serious about your Amazon business, investing in tools to increase your productivity should be very high on your list of priorities.

I’ve split this list into three parts – Must Haves, Strongly Recommended, and Long Term Investments.  If you are just starting out, make sure you have everything on the “must haves” list.  Set aside some profits as you move forward and pick up items off the “strongly recommended” list.

Finally, as you grow and build your business to a higher level, seriously consider the items in the “long term investments” list.  These are tools and supplies that will aid you in moving your business from a part-time from home business to a successful full time business.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links.  If you choose to purchase these tools after clicking on the links below, I will receive a small commission for the referral.  Keep in mind, there is no additional cost to you for using the links below.  Please be aware that I personally have used each of the services / companies / items below, and I would recommend them even if I didn’t receive a commission.  They are that helpful.  By clicking on the links, it helps support me and the site, and allows me to keep pumping out awesome content!  If you have any questions about any of the companies / services / items below, feel free to contact me and I’ll help!

Must Haves

Pick these up immediately when starting out!

home-depot-boxShipping Boxes – Without shipping boxes, how can you send anything to Amazon?  If you are just starting out, collect free boxes from as many places as possible – craigslist, local stores, freecycle.com, or even friends.   When you start to have more shipments, it will make sense to start purchasing boxes.  Lowe’s and Home Depot both carry perfect FBA shipping boxes.  The small and medium sizes work the best.  The large size boxes work well for bulky, somewhat lightweight items.  They range from less than $1.00 for the small boxes, and approximately $1.50 for the large.  Personally, I like the Home Depot ones better, but Lowe’s work well too.  If you don’t have a Lowe’s or Home Depot nearby, an excellent online shipping company I’ve used for many years is Uline.
tape-dispenser-rollPacking Tape & Tape Gun – These can be purchased nearly anywhere.  Walmart has decent prices if you are buying one roll at a time.  Once you start realizing you are going through a roll pretty quickly, do a search on Amazon for packing tape.  When looking for tape, you’ll want an absolute minimum of 2.2 mil tape.  The larger the number, the thicker the tape is (and the better it will stick).  Make sure you pick up a tape gun at Walmart or on Amazon.  You won’t regret it.
Printer – Amazon states you shouldn’t use ink jet printers for printing.  When first starting out, all you usually have is an inkjet printer.  It’s not totally recommended to use it (since Amazon states you shouldn’t), but from personal experience, I’ve used inkjet printers quite often for printing.  In my opinion, use what you have to start out with.  Once you get some revenue and profits under your belt, invest into some of the strongly recommended printers below.  Be sure to read up on the printing guidelines Amazon has to ensure you fully understand the guidelines.
30-up-labelsRemovable Labels – Amazon requires you to label a good majority of the items you send to FBA.  When starting out, you’ll likely be printing with a standard printer.  Pick up some 30 up labels on Amazon.  If you are in a pinch, you can also find them at your local Staples and Office Depot.
detachable-face-shipping-scaleShipping Scale – When starting out, you can use whatever scale you have available.  A bathroom scale, a kitchen scale, anything that will calculate the weight of a package will work.  When you can afford it, one of the first things you should purchase is a shipping scale.  With larger packages it’s nearly impossible to check the weight on a bathroom scale while the package is still on top of it.  I would recommend picking up a shipping scale that has a detachable face (like the one shown to the left).  This allows you to check the weight of the package without having to move it.  You should be able to find one on Amazon for less than $30.  It’s a very smart investment.
suffocation-warning-bag-fbaSelf Sealing Clear Suffocation Warning Poly Bags – As you start shipping items to Amazon, you’ll quickly realize you need to put poly bags on a lot of items.  If you haven’t read them over yet, I would strongly recommend checking out Amazon’s packaging and prep requirements.  It will explain when and where you’ll need poly bags.  Every seller is different when it comes to the size bags you’ll use.  It really depends on the size of items you are sourcing.  If you don’t exactly know the sizes of items you’ll be sourcing, I would recommend getting a combo pack to get started.  As you send items you’ll start to notice the different size bags you’ll need, so you can adjust accordingly.  In our arsenal, we keep in stock the following sizes: 6×9, 8×10, 9×12, 11×14,  12×18, 18×24, 22×24, and 18×30.  You’ll quickly realize self sealing bags are much easier to use, as you won’t need to tape every one shut.
fb-artGrow Your Online Business Facebook Group – This is a FREE facebook group moderated by me that is the perfect spot for an entrepreneur just like you.  In that group, I answer questions from like minded people looking to grow their online business.

Strongly Recommended

As you grow, start purchasing these items.

dymo-labelwriter-450-turboDymo Label Printer – As mentioned above, Amazon doesn’t like ink jet printers.  But, Amazon loves thermal printers.  A Dymo label printer is a perfect thermal printer that will print all of your FBA labels.  You’ll also save money because you won’t have to buy ink anymore.  There are two models I would recommend – Dymo Labelwriter 450, and Dymo Labelwriter 450 Turbo.  Usually, the Turbo is just a few dollars more than the standard, which makes it the right one to buy.  It will kick out 20 more labels per hour than the standard Dymo.
dymo-30252-labelsDymo Labels – There are many different label types you can choose.  Choose the 30252 label rolls if you are using a third party solution such as Inventory Lab, ListLabelShip and ScanPower.  If you are using Amazon’s Scan and Ship, choose the 30334 label rolls.  I’ve purchased rolls from a company named HouseLabels on Amazon for years without a problem.  The pricing is amazing compared to the dymo branded labels, and I haven’t seen any difference in quality.
usb-barcode-scannerUSB Barcode Scanner – When starting out, you can hand key in all of the UPC codes.  You’ll notice real quickly this is quite inefficient.  Purchasing a USB barcode scanner for your computer will be one of the biggest time savers you’ll find.  You’ll be able to scan every item you have with ease instead of typing them in.  There is a difference in quality between the cheaper ones and the more expensive scanners.  Starting out, just get one of the cheaper ones, they’ll work perfectly fine.  In our warehouse setting, we used the cheap scan guns as almost ‘disposable’.  It’s nearly impossible to keep the scanners from falling on the floor.  If you have hardwood or concrete floors, they will stop working eventually from repeated drops.  It’s not a bad idea to have a spare around, incase it does stop working.  Either way, buying two cheap ones is much better than spending $300+ on a Wasp scanner (which are awesome by the way).
scotty-peelersScotty Peelers – If you are doing retail arbitrage, a scotty peeler is a must.  You’ll need to remove all of the retail labels prior to sending the items to FBA.  Scotty peelers will help you easily remove those labels.  You’ll wonder how you lived without it.  Your fingernails will thank you.
heat-gunHeat Gun – If you are doing retail arbitrage, a heat gun is something you’ll want.  Labels are much easier to remove if you heat them up first.  You can use a hair dryer if you are starting out, but if you are doing a lot of labels, a designated heat gun will be one of your favorite tools.  The Wagner heat gun has terrific reviews, and would work well for you.
smartphone-scannerBluetooth Handheld Scanner – If you are doing retail arbitrage or thrifting, you’ll want a bluetooth scanner for your smart phone.  Sure, you can use your smart phone’s built in camera to do scanning.  With a bluetooth scanner, you’ll be able to triple your speed.  I’ve personally used the MS910 by Unitech, and the KDC300 by Koamtac.  The MS910 is much cheaper, and works extremely well.  After using it for a while, I ended up leaving it at a store somewhere (they are very small!)  So, I had to buy a new one.  I got a really good deal on a used KDC300, so I picked it up.  The Koamtac scanners have a lot of great accessories such as the finger trigger glove, which is why I decided to go with it after I lost the MS910.  If starting out, stick with the MS910 to save money.  If you want the ability to use accessories with it, go with the KDC300.
inventory-lab-logoInventory Lab – This is software that I use to handle my in-store scanning, FBA shipments, listing and base level reporting.  Some sellers even use it for accounting purposes, which I haven’t done.  They recently came out with a scouting tool called Scoutify, which removes the need for a separate subscription to Profit Bandit or Scanpower.  They continuously update their tools, and is a great company to work with.
un-duGoo Gone / Un-du – When you are removing labels, there will be times there is gunk left on the product.  I’ve used Goo Gone and Un-du to remove this residue.  Both of them work well and you can’t go wrong with either one.
kraft-paperKraft Paper – You can use bubble wrap, air bubbles, newspaper and kraft paper for void fill when shipping items to FBA.  Newspaper and Kraft Paper tend to take up the least amount of space, which makes them ideal for someone starting out in their own home.  One roll can last you a while, and don’t take up a lot of space.
UPS-LogoUPS Smart Pickup – Smart Pickup will allow you to have UPS come to your door when it’s time, instead of lugging your packages to the UPS store.  Smart pickup allows you as many pickups as you want per week.  Currently, the weekly rate is less than $11.  If you sign up through UPS Connect, they will even waive your pickup fee for a year!
zebra-printerZebra LP2844 Label Printer – I’ve been using this label printer for shipping labels for many years.  It allows you to print on self adhesive labels – which you can get for free from UPS if you have a UPS account.  In addition, it is a thermal printer, so you’ll never have to buy ink or toner again.  If you have this printer, along with the Dymo printer, you won’t need any other printers for a sourcing road trip!  They are both quite small, and pack a powerful punch.  I’ve always found them to be cheapest used on eBay.
box-resizerBox Resizer – Sometimes you just don’t have the right box size.  You have a few options at this point – use a bunch of void fill, cut down the box, or go buy a new size box.  The most economical option is to cut down the box.  It saves you from using void fill, and lowers the overall weight of the package, saving you shipping charges.  The box resizer perforates the inside of the box, which makes it easy to cut the box down in a nice, uniform fashion.

Long Term Investments

Once you’ve been doing FBA for a while and know it will  be a full time profession for a while, consider these long term investments.

mini-pakrAir Pillow Machine – With an air pillow machine, you can make your own air pillows whenever you want.  You’ll still need to buy a roll of paper, but it tends to be much cheaper than buying kraft paper or the air pillows already made.  The upfront cost of an air pillow machine is high, but you recoup the costs in the long run.  In addition, they take up hardly any space.  I’ve personally used the Green Machine from Uline.  I’ve seen other places use the Mini Pak’r (including a UPS Store), which seems to be very popular.
mettler-scaleMettler Scale – You’ve seen these scales at places such as meat markets and froyo stands.  Most places that charge you by the pound use mettler scales.  They are very heavy duty, and their accuracy is top notch.  The PS60 model is the one I’ve used for years.  I’ve found them to be cheapest used on eBay.
wasp-scannerWasp Scanner – Wasp scanners are bluetooth scanners you can use for either your smartphone, or for processing your FBA shipments on your computer.  They are lightweight, but heavy duty.  The model I’m most familiar with is the WWS550I.

There you have it!  There are many tools you can use when shipping items to FBA.  Are there any tools I missed?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Barbara Drazga

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