Box level inventory. Yeah that just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Box level is here and it isn’t going to go away.
We have a few choices.
We can just quit ( that doesn’t pay too well)
We can pay an additional $.15 an item for Amazon to deal with it ( but the cost isn’t the biggest issue with that answer)
We can provide the box level inventory information Amazon requires. ( seems like the most obvious)
Who Is Affected?
Well technically everyone is affected, but honestly in is the smaller RA/OA sellers like me.
People that send in 100’s of different skus at a time.
The bigger sellers doing wholesale and private label really won’t see much from this. They are sending in cases of the same sku and they basically know the box level of that, ie it is all the same product and the same expiration date.
So if you have to send to 3 or 4 warehouses like I do, you are probably feeling the pain too. Not only do you have to sort out your shipment, you now have to tell what went into what box if you send more than one box to a warehouse ( or you aren’t allowed to have 2 or more expiration dates for the same product in the same box)
What Is Box Level Content?
To be upfront, no matter which option you choose, it is more work. You have to know what went in each box ( unless you send everything in one box, which is automatically box level)
Which is best? Well it depends.
Here is a great video showing the basics of what Amazon wants
Options For Dealing With Box Level Inventory
There are paid services.
The 2 biggest are BoxT ( part of Scanpower) and Inventory Labs ( they provide it as part of their basic service)
I have not seen or used BoxT so I can’t say if it works good or not. It currently cost $24 a month. https://boxt.scanpower.com/
Well first you should be using them for general FBA for the other features they offer but when it comes to the box level, well that is a work in progress.
They did get an option up but it seems that they will be working on it based on feedback from the users.
The big plus on this option is that it is part of the regular package price, so as they work out the bugs, it might be the best choice.
Here is a work around that you can use if you use the “live” feature to enter in shipments via Inventory Labs.
Basically you start a shipment, start filling up boxes bases on what warehouse they are going to and when a box fills up, you complete that shipment. So in effect, you are shipping one box at a time and don’t have to enter any box level.
Here is a great article on this
Stop here for a second and look.
If your shipments small and get split up but the split makes the shipment to each warehouse only 1 box, then you don’t have to input box level shipment.
This is a technique that some use a lot. Instead of entering in 1000 skus and making one big shipment, they just enter say 50 skus, stop and make a shipment and then move to the next 100 skus.
This works and doesn’t work. It depends on how Amazon splits up the shipments. This could cost my more in shipping if you get partial boxes going into each warehouse.
Manually Entering In Seller Central
As shown in the great video above, there are a few options on how to enter this into Amazon.
The problem is that you have to have a system to count what went into what box.
( First big hint is to number each box no matter what system you are using. You need to know which is box #1, #2, etc and get the right label on the the right box)
Some people are literally taking a pen and paper and writing down each item they are putting in a box.
OMG, that would take forever on a big shipment. ( this is the issue with box level, it is a time suck for us which takes away the time suck for Amazon)
I took this into my own hands and came up with a system that uses my bar code scanner and Excel ( or Google Drive Sheets or OpenOffice) to basically count the units as I put them into the boxes.
I made this available on Gumroad.
I include the training videos and the Excel sheet that I created as part of the package. ( If you are good with Excel, you can make your own for free)
The last option is to not do box level and have Amazon charge you $.15 an unit. While this might seem like an easy out, it is the worse option.
Not only does Amazon charge you, they basically set your stuff aside and it could takes weeks before they check it in.
The prices of your skus could tank during this time and it could end up costing you way more than the $.15 per item.
Nobody wants to invest more time in prepping and shipping and box level is going to add time. You need to figure out which systems work for you and implement it.