Understanding Amazon Packaging Standards
Amazon Packaging Standards Can Build Your New Revenue Stream
Amazon executes an amazing 49% of all U.S. online sales. Now, this business colossus is using financial incentives to push its vendor community into compliance with rigorous Amazon packaging standards. The business opportunity for testing labs is huge!
Vendors who want to continue using Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), without extra charges, have three certification options:
- Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) certification
- Ships in Own Container (SIOC) certification
- Prep-Free Packaging (PFP) certification
Two new standards govern the certification process:
- ISTA 6-Amazon.com-SIOC is a requirement for FFP and SIOC certification
- ISTA 6-Amazon.com-Over Boxing is a requirement for PFP certification
Motivation for Vendors and Testing Labs
Vendors are motivated because, after August 1, 2019, any product using FBA without certification will be subject to a $1.99 per-unit charge-back by Amazon. Not a good thing for profit margins.
Testing labs should be motivated by the potential revenue. Amazon has not released the number of products covered by its FBA program but estimates are in the millions. Testing and certifying all those products represents an enormous amount of business for qualified labs.
Who will do the testing?
There are three ways for vendors to get packaged products certified:
Direct to Amazon
Send it to Amazon for testing and certification. Vendors must pay for this service, which is reasonable, but they must also wait in line, which is a problem for vendors who want to quickly ramp up sales and control selling costs. Also, the Amazon testing labs give feedback if a packaged product fails a test but don’t consult during package re-design. If there is a failure, the vendor has to work through the problems on their own.
Get an in-house lab certified by Amazon. This will work for large corporations who have testing labs but it is not a real option for the vast majority of vendors.
Use an Amazon Packaging Support and Supplier Network (APASS) certified lab. APASS labs are approved by Amazon to perform the ISTA 6-Amazon tests and provide certification. This is how independent testing labs can participate and create new revenue streams. Vendors need labs that can run and document the tests efficiently and offer re-design advice when packaged products don’t pass. Ideally, a lab should be able to work with a vendor during the package design process, testing, and reporting on multiple prototypes before final certification testing.
Looking at the Standards
ISTA 6-Amazon-Over Box defines a general simulation test for e-Commerce fulfillment by an individually packaged product being placed into a master shipping container (Over Box) with dunnage (air pillows and Kraft paper) and, possibly, other products. It includes two sequences of drop shock testing and one sequence of random vibration testing, with a single test profile.
ISTA 6-Amazon-SIOC defines a general simulation test for ‘Ships in Own Container’ (SIOC) packaged products shipped through Amazon’s distribution system to final customer destinations. It includes nine sequences of drop shock testing and one sequence of random vibration testing, with three test profiles; the use of the test profiles varies based on the product type.
The specifications for both of these standards are available to ISTA members on the ISTA website.
Vibration Research has the Tools You Need
First, we can help you streamline ISTA 6-Amazon vibration testing. The VR9500 controller and VibrationVIEW software are optimized for the ISTA 6-Amazon style of vibration test. Entering the random vibration test profiles is straightforward and testing is executed efficiently, followed up by comprehensive, automated reporting. If a customer’s packaged product fails the vibration tests, you’ll have a wealth of information in the test results so you can help them with design modifications.
In addition, using the ObserVR1000 DAQ and ObserVIEW software, you can instrument a packaged product with accelerometers and analyze the drop test results. This isn’t necessary if your customer’s packaged product passes the drop tests BUT, if it fails, you’ll have the data and insight to advise on an intelligent re-design, not relying on just a best-guess approach.
Learn More About the ObserVR1000 in this Video