Amazon FBA’s Labeling Service: A No-Brainer or Yet Another Fee?

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Category selling-more-books

I haven’t sent in a FBA shipment in some time due to other priorities.  However, I recently received the latest FBA newsletter and found out that Amazon is now offering to label items for you.  That’s pretty sweet!  That has been a desire of mine for a long time.  The biggest hassle with FBA has always been printing out all those damn labels and sticking them to each and every book.  It turns a 1 hour job into a 3 hour job.  I’ve sent in some shipments that literally took me 8+ hours to process when they could have been much, much less.

It looks like they’re charging 20 cents/item which doesn’t seem to be too bad.  I typically had 200 books in a shipment.  If I were to choose to have Amazon label them all for me, I’d be out $40.  In my opinion, that would be a small price to pay to shave half the time out of processing.  This definitely wouldn’t be for the penny books though.  With the recent fee hike, that really hurt much of the low-price, commodity books being sold via FBA.  Taking another 20 cents from the already paper-thin margins wouldn’t be feasible.

Here’s the breakdown of the service:

  • They will label just about anything that qualifies for FBA however it has to have a scannable barcode.  This means NO pre-1970 books folks.  If you do have these items, you’ll have to label them yourself however they’ll have to be in a different shipment.  There’s no mixing and matching labeling service items with self-service labeling.
  • You’ll be allowed to use the labeling service on a per-shipment basis.

It looks to be a pretty straightforward process.  You tell them which items you want them to label and you pay 20 cents/pop.  Are you going to use this service?  If so, I hope you’ve figured this new expense into your total expenses.  This would be a PERFECT reason to use a service like eBizControl to keep track of all these little expenses. wlEmoticon smile Amazon FBA’s Labeling Service: A No Brainer or Yet Another Fee?  Feel free to sign up for the mailing list or check out the site and get registered for the beta once it’s available.

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  • MakeAlotOfMoney

    Adam, I know what you mean it seems that labeling the books sometimes seem to take forever.  I have been thinking about checking out “Labeling by Amazon” for this reason.   However after both timing how long it takes to do the actual labeling part and doing some number crunching the numbers do not come out favorably for having Amazon Label my books.  There must be something else going on which makes it seem like labeling takes so long.

    I just timed myself on printing out 87 labels and applying them to my books.  It only took my 28 min to label them. I actually use the labeling process to help me do QA on my books as well so my this time should be considerably longer than if I were to just label the books.

    First I check out the front of the book to make sure I have the right bar-code to apply.  I also note the condition on the bar-code and try to note the condition of the book as I do the labeling process.  In the process I at times find a book that has the wrong condition on the label and so set this book aside.

    I am also doing a visual inspection for dirt or sticking residue I had missed in my cleanup.  Once I verify the label  is correct I turn the book over and apply the Label.  I quickly feel both sides of the book for dirt or residue.  Although I try to do a good job in my cleanup I often find problems during this Labeling / QA process.

    In this lot of 87 books I found one book that should have had a lower condition, several books I cleaned up a bit more and a couple of books that still had a little sticky residue from stickers I had removed.

    My feedback score is fairly high at 99% which I attribute in part to the QA during labeling.

    Even with all this extra work it took me only 28 minutes or an average of less than 20 seconds per book to do the labeling.  If I had these books labeled by FBA it would cost  87 *  $.2 or  $17.40.  I am paying myself $17.40/(28min/60min in an hour) or $37 an hour by Labeling the books myself instead of having Amazon label them for me.  Not bad considering I get the extra QA for free if I do it myself.

    Another way to look at it is how would Amazon Labeling my books and how much do they make per hour doing it.  I would think they have a fast single label thermal printer and software so that when the operator scans the book’s barcode the software looks up the listing you have provided which has the condition of the book. They quickly created an FNSKU and print out and apply the label.  I seems it would take considerably less than 5 seconds a book to do this.  So they would be making at least 60/5*60*.2 or $144 an hour!

    If one just got the books the in the state they would be in to send them to Amazon for labeling, got a fast label printer and the right software one could make a lot of money!!!  I fact I think I will quit selling books, offer a service where sellers can send all their books to me (I’ll pay the postage),  I’ll label them for them at a discount from Amazons label charges, send them off to Amazon (paying for the postage myself) and still make a very good living off the service :) .

    Seriously, I would like to go to a single bar-code thermal printer and incorporate it earlier in my process because I think it would be faster and I could handle each book fewer times.  I would need to somehow find another way to get good QA on my books so that my ranking does not drop.

  • adbertram

    I tend to agree with you now. I also timed myself and it really didn’t take too long at all. I’m going to to continue to label my books as well.

  • Mike Rezendes II

    Huge Rip off. On some items thats the entire profit margin. Then again I get books for pennies, so… different business models require different strategies, but this is clearly a rip off on all fronts. I can label about 20 books a minute. Thats $240/hr at Amazons rate, and even if I can only do them half as fast, thats still $120/hr

    Youd have to be lazy and stupid to do this.