Recently, Amazon notified thousands of brands of a new packaging certification process - The Frustration Free Packaging Program. The program aims to reduce packaging waste as well as streamline the eCommerce shipping process for first party vendors on Amazon. Under the new guidelines Amazon will require that eligible products arrive to fulfillment centers in packaging that does not require any preparation or overboxes to ship to the customer.
The deadline to certify is August 1, 2019 and for brands scrambling to get certification, it signals some big changes both for packaging and branding.
A Focused First Effort
While we can assume packaging changes are coming for us all, Amazon is starting with three categories of items currently sold and shipped in the United States and Canada. This includes durable goods like toys, electronics, and home goods; consumables like laundry detergent or baby products; and soft goods which includes things like luggage and bedding. The scope is furthered narrowed by targeting larger and/or heavier items - packages larger than 18x14x8 or weighing 20 pounds or more.
For now, Marketplace Sellers, including those who ship their own products and those who have Amazon fulfill their orders, are not included in the program.
Early Adopters Will Benefit More
Amazon's goal for the program is that every program-eligible item received in a fulfillment center would meet one of three certification tiers: Tier 1 – Frustration-Free Packaging, Tier 2 - Ships in its Own Container and Tier 3 - Prep-Free Packaging. Certified packaging must protect the product during the journey to the customer’s doorstep without needing additional packaging or prep by Amazon.
The Frustration Free Packaging Program is offering incentives to vendors certified by the deadline by offering a one-time credit to "assist in the transition costs." This means a Amazon will issue a credit of $1.00 for each item shipped before the deadline in upgraded packaging. Once the August 1 deadline has passed, brands and distributors with product in non-compliant packaging will pay a $1.99 Amazon Prep Chargeback for every shipped order.
Branding and Efficiency at the Doorstep
One of the biggest advantages for certified brands will be the opportunity for your product to arrive in your branded packaging. Ships In Its Own Container, or SOIC, packaging means the brand controls the package messaging and design while reducing the amount of waste that customer would need to dispose of or recycle. Brands like Tide made headlines late last year for their Amazon friendly packaging. In a testimonial video on Amazon's website, an engineer for Hasbro claims they are saving as much as 50% in materials and shipping volume.
Help is Here with a New, Improved Look
In a bid to make this transition smoother, Amazon recently revamped their aboutamazon.com website. The Sustainable Packaging section has tons of information, videos, and resources on Design, Testing, and Certification as well as case studies. Brands can also download full, step by step instructions for enrolling though Vendor Central.
As the August 1 deadline approaches, Bold Retail will be monitoring all the details and changes ahead to ensure our clients stay one step ahead. Is your brand affected by the FFP certification program? Got a question about the process? We'd love to hear from you! Email or message us.