Labeling Your Goods for FBA: FNSKU or UPCCaitlin Donnelly
Amazon has many rules and regulations when it comes to its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program. Knowing “right” from “wrong” by being Amazon compliant before your shipment reaches fulfillment centers can save you both money and time.
Choosing the types of FBA labels for your units is an important topic and, in this post, we will discuss the difference between FNSKU and UPC labels.
Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit – Identification label for specific products that allow Amazon to organize their inventory.
This unique identifier is the way that Amazon identifies a product as unique to the seller who has sent it to the Amazon fulfillment center. FNSKUs are printed on product-level labels. If a seller is supplying goods through FBA, every individual product they send in is recommended to have an FNSKU label. If they have an identical product that comes in different colors, each color must have its own distinct FNSKU.
Ex: If you are selling fidget spinners, all silver fidget spinners must have one type of FNSKU labels, while all gold slippers must have their own type. FNSKU labels can be found and printed from Seller Central and are applied over any other barcodes present so they can be scanned. This is taken care of by FBAforward if you elect to use our services.
Universal Product Code – Barcode that will identify a specific product.
A UPC is a unique identifier that can be purchased and is recognized in most English speaking and European nations. Typically, manufacturers have UPCs for each of their products, so there is no need to purchase your own. UPCs are added onto a product or its packaging and are unique to different sizes or variations. Any seller with the same product from the same manufacturer will use the same UPC. Other eligible barcodes include: Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN), Global Catalog Identifier (GCID), European Article Number (EAN), Japanese Article Number (JAN), or International Standard Book Number (ISBN).
Amazon Eligibility to Use UPCs (from sellercentral.amazon.com):
Not all inventory is eligible for tracking with the manufacturer barcode. To be eligible, products must:
- Be in new condition only
- Have a single scannable barcode that corresponds to a single ASIN in the Amazon catalog
- Not be expiration-dated
- Not be consumable or topical products such as skin creams, shampoos, or cosmetics
What is Commingling/Stickerless Inventory and Do I Need to Be Worried?
When your products are shipped and received at Amazon’s fulfillment centers, Amazon mixes together products it decides are identical. This process is done through scanning the manufacturer’s product ID, or UPC, and is referred to as “commingling” or “commingled inventory.” Amazon’s idea behind this is to make it faster for customer to receive similar products and make it cheaper for sellers. Essentially, your products get jumbled in with products from other sellers with the same UPC. You can see how this would get messy if the so-called “similar products” are counterfeit, returns, faulty, mislabeled, or mediocre versions of what you’re selling. If customers report your products to Amazon, your account could end up being flagged or suspended.
The only time FNSKUs are mandatory is if the products are not tracked using manufacturer bar codes, products that are expiration-dated, and consumable and topical products such as skin creams, shampoos, and cosmetics.
What Should I Do?
Well, the final answer is really up to you. FBAforward always recommends going with FNSKU labels to reduce the risks associated with commingling. It can be more affordable for you to have your supplier apply FNSKU labels to your goods before it is shipped, but any Amazon prep company should be able to apply FNSKU labels once your goods reach the U.S.