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Certified success: Why Amazon’s new Frustration Free Packaging guidelines shouldn’t frustrate savvy shippers

Amazon's Frustration-Free Packaging Program now mandates that items larger than 18 inches by 14 inches by eight inches or weighing 20 pounds or more be certified as ready to ship. That means that they must qualify for one of three levels of packaging efficiency: Tier 1 (frustration-free packaging), Tier 2 (ships in own box) or Tier 3 (prep-free packaging).

For many vendors selling through online giant’s fulfillment centers, meeting the new requirements of Amazon’s expanded Frustration-Free Packaging Program by the August 1 deadline was like cramming for a final exam. For others, the test is still dragging on, and they’re going to need a little help to pass. That’s why the e-commerce giant created the Amazon Packaging Support and Supplier (APASS) network, a list of companies that can help vendors comply with the program’s stringent requirements.

Every member company in the APASS network has received guidance from Amazon to help vendors become Amazon certified shippers, but not every company on the list is the same. Some offer comprehensive consultation services and customized packaging solutions that can help companies upgrade and improve packaging strategies while ensuring certification.    

Making the Grade: Meeting Amazon Requirements

The Frustration Free Packaging Program now mandates that items larger than 18 inches by 14 inches by eight inches or weighing 20 pounds or more be certified as ready to ship. That means that they must qualify for one of three levels of packaging efficiency: Tier 1 (frustration-free packaging), Tier 2 (ships in own box) or Tier 3 (prep-free packaging).

Amazon has partnered with the International Safe Transport Association to test whether retailers’ packages and products can withstand transport hazards normally associated with handling and delivery, such as vibration, compression and drops. To become an Amazon certified vendor, a retailer’s products in Tiers 1 and 2, which do not require an overbox, must pass ISTA 6-Amazon.com-SIOC (ships in own container) Testing. Products in Tier 3, which do require an overbox, must pass ISTA 6-Amazon.com-Over Boxing Testing.

Amazon had said vendors that didn’t meet the new packaging guidelines by Aug. 1 would face a chargeback of $1.99 per unit. But Amazon confirmed in August that it had pushed that deadline back to Sept. 3, giving vendors more time to adjust their packaging practices and achieve certification.

If you need to update packaging, why stop at Amazon certification? With customized packaging solutions for their product offerings, companies can reduce their shipping costs and damage rate, use their packaging to market their brand, show customers their commitment to environmental sustainability and enhance customers’ unboxing experience.

Extra Credit: Picking the Right Partner

To become Amazon-certified, vendors need not consult with an APASS company, but there are clear benefits to doing so. All APASS members have the equipment required for testing, and they may be able to complete testing more quickly than Amazon, whose testing labs can become backed up. In addition, companies can avoid the costs and hassles of shipping internationally, and they will have documentation to show prospective business partners that their packaging meets Amazon’s criteria.

But if you need to update packaging, why stop at Amazon certification? With customized packaging solutions for their product offerings, companies can reduce their shipping costs and damage rate, use their packaging to market their brand, show customers their commitment to environmental sustainability and enhance customers’ unboxing experience.   

Unlike some ISTA-certified APASS members that only offer testing, suppliers like Pregis provide a wide range of consultative services, including packaging design, automation and training. They can develop and manufacture packaging products especially for each retailer’s product line. Packaging waste is eliminated, and customers get deliveries that are easier to open and arrive in pristine condition. In fact, Pregis packaging engineers can help clients achieve the same or better levels of protective performance with their packaging, while using less material to pass the requisite Amazon tests. Packaging materials also can be used to amplify a retailer’s brand and marketing messaging to build loyalty.

Tom Wetsch, chief innovation officer at Pregis, said consulting with a packaging expert such as Pregis allows retailers to go beyond simply meeting durability standards and truly optimize packaging solutions.

“Pregis has always been a material-neutral supplier whose main objective is to provide manufacturers, consumer packaged goods companies and retailers with the best protective solutions for their products,” he said. “Joining the APASS network is just one more way we can add value by helping brand owners select the best packaging to address today’s increasingly complex e-commerce shipping challenges.”

 

To learn more about Pregis design and testing services, visit https://www.pregis.com/services/design-and-testing/.