If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that FBA centers are horrible at checking in inventory.
13 of our last 92 shipments have had check-in errors – 14%! Some errors show we sent fewer items, and some show we sent more. Some of these shipment errors are upwards of 20 units!
We have a multi step process when shipping items that ensures we send the correct amount. Because of our process we have had every discrepancy paid for by Amazon.
Scroll to the bottom to find out how we do it.
Think your FBA shipment was received in full? Think Again.
Don’t make the rookie mistake of thinking that your FBA Inbound shipment was “received in full” even though Amazon says it is. It reminds me of a quote from an Austin Powers movie:
“…I’m just going to assume it all went to plan. What?” -Dr. Evil.
FBA Inbound Shipment Emails
If this is your first shipment, then congratulations! Welcome to the world of FBA. After you complete and send your shipment Amazon will send you three emails entitled:
1) FBA Inbound Shipment Checked-In (FBA Shipment ID#)
This email notifies you that the shipping carrier has delivered some or all of your boxes.
2) FBA Inbound Shipment Receiving (FBA Shipment ID#)
This email notifies you that those boxes are being processed into inventory.
3) FBA Inbound Shipment Received In-Full (FBA Shipment ID#)
This email you think notifies you that all of your items have been accounted for. It’s really just an email confirming that the total number of items sent matches the total number of items received.
That is to say if Amazon thinks that you sent 1 more of product A and 1 less of product B then the total number of units sent is the same.
I KNOW I sent the right number of units, now what?
Amazon allows you to appeal or “reconcile” your shipments. All you have to do is click on the “Reconcile” tab and fill out the form
Sometimes Amazon doesn’t allow you to reconcile the shipment for 2 weeks after the items have been delivered and checked in. Why 2 weeks?
“Inventory placement is complicated. Before we can reconcile your shipment, there needs to be enough time for your products to reach their intended fulfillment centers, including products that we reship to other locations in order to be closer to customers.”
We used to be able to reconcile shipments after 48 hours. But that was before Amazon had us shipping all of our items to the FBA warehouses that act as distribution centers for other FBA warehouses.
You can check how many items Amazon says you shipped by clicking on the “Shipment Contents” tab. There you will see the number of items Shipped versus the number of items received.
The reconciliation process is easy. You select either “Units not shipped” or “Extra units shipped “ from the drop down menu for each discrepancy. Then you write a note to Amazon in the box provided and submit.
Sounds easy, right? Well if you just write to Amazon telling them that you double counted and that they counted wrong, then you probably will not get anything reimbursed.
Amazon did not reimburse us on our very first discrepancy/reconciliation. It was so frustrating. We knew we counted correctly. We paid good money for those items only for them to get sucked into the FBA black hole.
After that we changed the process for sending items to Amazon and haven’t had any problems since.
How to Get Reimbursed Every Time for FBA Shipment Discrepancies
We use a multi-step process for sending items to FBA. Granted we have a staff and can have different employees do different steps, but if you are the only one, then it works just the same.
1) We create an order in our order management. If you can’t do this then just skip to step 2.
2) We create the shipment in Seller Central using the order we just created in our order management system.
3) We create a Pick Ticket from our order and send it to the warehouse. A warehouse team member picks the order initially. You can alternatively use the SKU list provided for the shipment.
4) We do not use the comingled inventory option (on purpose) so we have to put FNSKU barcode stickers on all of our items. We have a second warehouse team member put stickers on the items.
We print the stickers from within the shipment so we know that if there is a sticker or item left over then we did not count correctly when picking. Double count at this phase if necessary
5) We take pictures of all of our items with at least one barcode from each SKU showing. We prefer to have all the stickers showing when we take the pictures.
This last step is the most important because it is physical proof to Amazon that they indeed we the ones who made the error.
The person taking the pictures uploads them in a Google Drive folder named after the shipment ID.
6) When packing the items into the boxes a manual count per SKU is done again and hand written on a paper copy of our “Box Content Detail” spreadsheet (see below for an example).
We often have “more than one SKU per box” so this helps us with the pack list upload that happens in the final stages of the shipment.
It sounds like a lot of work, and it is. Is it worth it?
What do you think? Comment below.