If you source and ship Amazon FBA inventory out of your house, you know the feeling well:
Inventory in your car. Inventory in the garage. Inventory in the front hallway. Inventory on the kitchen table. Inventory in the spare bedroom. Inventory wherever you can find the space to store it while you’re waiting to prep it and ship it out to an Amazon warehouse.
It can be a bit overwhelming for both you and your family, especially during Q4 when sourcing and shipping are at their peak for the year. During Q4 the workload can be so demanding for an Amazon FBA seller that we end up missing opportunities because we end up spending more time than we should on tasks that could easily be outsourced to someone else. In fact, I’ve discussed in a previous blog post that one of the biggest mistakes many FBA sellers make is trying to do everything on their own, rather than paying for help.
Prepping, packing, and shipping inventory is one of the most obvious ways you can outsource tasks in your FBA business so that you can free up your time to do more of what makes your business succeed: making great sourcing decisions and finding profitable inventory to sell on Amazon.
You can hire someone to prep, list, pack, and ship for you, either at your own house or a small warehouse. But what if you are uncomfortable with someone coming into your house to work? Or what if you don’t want to bother with renting a workspace outside the home? What if you aren’t sure how to line up the hours for an employee? What if you aren’t sure you would have enough work to keep an employee busy? Or how about the opposite — what if you have a ton of work to be done, but you can’t find someone trustworthy to do it?
If you want to eliminate dealing with these questions above, you might consider working with a prep center. The physical actions required for prepping, listing, and shipping your inventory are really only one aspect of dealing with your inventory on a regular basis.
You also need to consider these aspects:
- Bringing the inventory into your house/warehouse
- Storing the inventory in your house/warehouse
- Buying and storing poly bags, impulse sealer, heat gun, etc
- Buying and storing shipping boxes, packing tape, labels, Scotty peelers, Goo Gone, etc
Imagine what it would be like to run an FBA business without having inventory in your home. Imagine what it would be like to not have to worry about keeping supplies in stock or maintaining a work station with all of the equipment and supplies for prepping and shipping.
What is a Prep Center?
A prep center is a service that will receive your inventory, inspect your inventory, prepare your inventory for Amazon, and then ship your inventory to Amazon. A prep center can be used to drop off your retail arbitrage, if you can find one locally, or you can use a prep center to receive online arbitrage and wholesale deliveries across the U.S.
Benefits of Using a Prep Center
- More time for other tasks
- Less stress caused by inventory coming in and out of your house/warehouse
- Less stress caused by having to keep shipping and prepping supplies in stock
- Potentially save on sales tax — Some prep centers are located in states that don’t charge sales tax, and your shipments to these centers would be sales tax free.
- Potentially save on inbound shipping fees — Some prep centers are located closer to FBA warehouses than your current location might be, and your inbound shipping could drop by using a prep center for your OA and wholesale deliveries.
- Potentially faster turnaround — Before I started outsourcing my prep work, I would get bogged down by sourcing, sourcing, sourcing, but not spending the time to prep and ship to Amazon. With a prep center, I can source, source, source, and someone else is sending in my inventory to FBA warehouses faster than I was able to do it myself. Many prep centers have 24-48 hour turnaround, which can be crucial for time sensitive inventory and getting fast sales to increase your disbursements.
- More freedom — Freedom is a huge reason to outsource any task, especially when it comes to removing the work and stress associated with prepping and shipping inventory from your house. Using a prep center gives you freedom to work on more profitable tasks — and freedom to use your time and space in your home as you desire.
So there you have my top reasons for using a prep center to prep, pack, and ship my inventory to Amazon FBA. Both staying healthy and saving time are crucial to your FBA business’s long-term success, and finding a great prep center can help you make solid progress towards maintaining your work-life balance.
For many sellers, the thought of using a prep center seems like an extravagant expense for their business. I know for my own business, once I finally made the decision to outsource my prepping and shipping to a prep center, I fell in love with the concept. It was worth every penny to have my time back – and the space in our house back!
If you need help thinking through some of the implications of paying for a prep center versus doing the work yourself, I recommend this blog post on overcoming your fear of paying for services. You can also check out our blog posts on keys to growing your business into a full-time income generating machine and the biggest myths stopping you from growing your FBA business, both of which stress the importance of outsourcing for your business’s growth.
Many people ask me, “Stephen, which prep center do you recommend?” Without hesitation I tell them to look into My Prep Center. No, I’m not being vague… that’s the actual name of the prep center: My Prep Center. They are located in Michigan, have affordable pricing, super fast turnaround, and amazing customer service. They always seem to go above and beyond what I expect them to do and have never let me down.
In my next blog post, I’ll cover a topic that our Full-Time FBA Facebook group seems to get tons of questions about: how to choose a quality prep center to handle your inventory. If you’re not subscribed to the blog yet, then scroll up and fill out the form on the top right of this page. Get a free Seller Central Tips ebook just for signing up for our newsletter!
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you use a prep center? How did it impact your Amazon FBA business? If you don’t use a prep center, then what’s holding you back from letting someone else take care of the prep, packing, and shipping for you?
Successfully running an Amazon FBA business doesn’t just happen on accident. In fact, there are six proven steps to finally making a full-time income with only part-time hours via Amazon FBA. If you’re tired of not seeing the growth you expect in your Amazon business, then I highly recommend our course, Next Level Amazon: Make a Full-Time Income With Only Part-Time Hours via Amazon FBA.
In Next Level Amazon, I outline everything you need to know in order to work less, but make more take-home pay. It’s a strategy that has helped so many people go from working 60-hour weeks just to make ends meet… to truly only working 20 or so hours each week, while still bringing home a full-time paycheck.
Good post for newbies. You don’t address getting your inventory to a prep center if you don’t live across the street from one. I source at Thrift Stores not online. Wouldn’t the cost of shipping the items to the prep center and then the prep center shipping them to Amazon create too much added costs? Plus I’m still packing and shipping….
Stephen Smotherman says
The best way to get your inventory to a prep center is to order your inventory online via OA (online arbitrage) or wholesale, and have them deliver the inventory to your prep center. As for RA (retail arbitrage) it’s better to have a prep center near you where you can drop off your RA inventory. I don’t think it would be cost effective to ship your RA inventory to a prep center as that would most likely eat into most of your profits. Hope this helps!
Also, here is a list of things you need to think about when it comes to choosing a prep center: https://www.fulltimefba.com/how-to-choose-a-quality-prep-center-for-your-amazon-fba-business/
Can you please tell me which programme do you use to send the report? Is it PDF document or Word document or another programme?
I apprecate your response.
Stephen Smotherman says
What report are you talking about, exactly?
Thanks for sharing. really beneficial.
I travel a lot and so plan to do FBA while on the road. I was interested in the Amazon services where they prep and label your items for I think .20/item. Wouldn’t this save on having the items shipped twice? What do you think of the Amazon services?
Stephen Smotherman says
The big issue with that is that most of the time, Amazon will say to send 10 items to warehouse A, and 5 to warehouse B… and not many online stores or wholesalers will break up the orders that way.
Assohoun sylvestre amia says
Hi Stephen, I just bought the keepa guide with you . And I learnt a lot . I have a question. Do I have to get approval for restricted categories before to ask the prep center to prep my packages and send to amazon warehouse? Or can the prep center have to prep my packages before I ask for approval?
Stephen Smotherman says
You should ALWAYS get the approval first before you do anything else. Even if you’re buying an item in order to get the papers to get approved, you should just get those items sent to you directly if possible. Nothing worse than having inventory at a prep center and then hear back from Amazon that your papers do not meet the requirements for brand approval.
hi , please reply to by Email for the shipping to Amazon . let’s start the initial order and more in future . thanks. erica