As Amazon reaches further into the pool of consumer goods in a sweep to take care of the everyday needs of American consumers, foods and beverages have found their way onto the Amazon menu. Amazon Prime’s alliance with Whole Foods Market alongside the Amazon Pantry that allows for at-home grocery shopping and to-your-door delivery mean a new level of convenience for shoppers – but there are unforeseen problems to be solved.
One of those problems is the issue of shipping fresh foods door-to-door across the country through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). The ambitious ecosystem of Amazon works on an infrastructure so robustly built that the transportation of food is not a problem; however, ensuring that food is always fresh and delivered within a freshness window is a task unto itself.
Accordingly, Amazon has drafted a set of standards for storing, carrying, and shipping food to its customers. For food producers who want to get in on the promise of profit from within the Amazon ecosystem, adhering to these rules and optimizing food distribution to match them will be indispensable.
The Three Must-Follow Shelf Life Standards for Amazon
There are three main requirements to which producers must adhere to maintain profitability with FBA:
Build in a Cushion of Time
You will need to strike a balance between early delivery and window of expiry for your food products. Amazon will only accept food items that have at least 105 days before expiration, so delivering your non-perishable goods well before they are set to expire will be in your favor.
If you’re unable to regularly send food items through FBA on time, you’re probably better off with fulfillment by manufacturer (FBM).
Be Prepared for Removal of Items before Expiry
To keep the freshest stock possible, Amazon disposes of (or creates a removal order for) goods within 50 days of their provided expiration date. The expiration date is considered both the “best by” and “sell by” date.
They do this to account for shipment times and the time it takes to consume items. Amazon may make adjustments to their removal schedule based on product volumes that are intended for long-term consumption, such as vitamins packed for 90-day consumption.
Format Expiration Dates & Make Them Easily Visible
Amazon requires the expiration date to follow one of these two formats:
Even if you’re already manufacturing products with a different labeling system, you’ll be unable to take advantage of FBA if you don’t cover the existing label with one that complies with Amazon’s requirements. If FBA is your main channel for product sales, it’s certainly worth your time to invest in creating a new labeling system.
Amazon considers the MM-YYYY format to read as the first day of the specified month. Beware of their consideration as it may affect your distribution schedule. There are also font size requirements of size 36 or larger printed on boxes as well as individual items.
Shelf-Life Testing Is Essential
The strict quality control guidelines implemented by Amazon mean they won’t cut corners when it comes to ensuring that expiry requirements are met. The only way to ensure your revenue stream is affected positively by fulfillment by Amazon is to perform shelf-life testing before putting out products.