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Amazon introduced frustration-free packaging (FFP) to vendors in 2007 and recently placed a stronger priority on the program. Its goal is to enforce packaging rules and regulations beginning Aug. 1. Continue reading to learn more about Amazon’s frustration-free packaging (FFP) initiative ahead of the upcoming deadline.

What is the Purpose of Frustration-Free Packaging?

Through this program, Amazon aims to reduce cost and waste through better packaging. It was also developed to improve the customer experience by cutting down on trash and using fewer materials to be more efficient for the marketplace’s digital shelf.

Frustration-Free Packaging
Frustration-Free Packaging

Frustration-free packaging has already made significant progress without a mandated deadline. According to Amazon, in 2017, FFP reduced packaging materials by more than 244,000 tons. That equates to about 305 million boxes in one year alone.

There are three tiers to frustration-free packaging brands using Vendor Central can use as guidelines to move toward adherence to these regulations.

The Three Tiers of the FFP Program

Outlined below are the three tiers of frustration-free packaging provided by Amazon:

Tier 1: The first tier is known as FFP. Vendors will fall into Tier 1 when their packaging meets Tier 2 requirements, uses minimal packaging, is easy to open, and is made with curbside recyclable materials.

Tier 2: Tier 2 is referred to as “Ships in Own Container” or SIOC. To qualify for Tier 2, vendors must utilize packaging that can be shipped to the customer in the same container as it arrives at the fulfillment center. The biggest difference here is packaging will use no overbox.

Tier 3: Tier 3 is known as prep-free packaging. Vendors qualify for Tier 3 if packaging still requires an overbox to ship to the customer, but it requires less preparation at the Amazon fulfillment center. Preparation can include anything from bagging and boxing to labeling.

Why Frustration-Free Packaging is Especially Important to Brands Right Now

As mentioned, Amazon has put a deadline in place for vendors to adjust to fit into one of these tiers. Beginning Aug. 1, any product larger than 18” x 14” x 8” or weighing more than 20 pounds will need to meet either Tier 1 or 2. This applies to most products shipping through non-sortable facilities. These products are usually too large to be sorted into a box with other items or placed on a conveyor belt for automatic sorting.

Deadline aside, it’s important for brands to plan for more cost- and waste-efficient packaging. Not only does it save brands money, but consumers have begun to choose sustainable brands over competitors. According to Nielsen, sales of sustainable products grow at twice the rate of others.

Since FFP began as an optional, incentivized program, vendors may be wondering how serious they must take this Aug.1 deadline. But some have already begun to realize the implications of not following the tiers set by Amazon. Vendors started to receive chargebacks on May 31 for packaging that didn't adhere to at least Tier 2 (chargebacks can be found within the Vendor Performance Dashboards in Vendor Central.) As of Aug. 1, any vendor that doesn’t certify ASINs as ready to ship within the Tier 1 guidelines will receive a $1.99 chargeback per unit.

To help vendors get started, Amazon has published information about optimal packaging, design, certification, and testing. It also has provided case studies showcasing vendors that have been successful in meeting one or more of the tiers.

Amazon is cracking down on its frustration-free packaging program to better serve consumers and reduce the waste it produces every year. For now, this initiative is in the hands of brands that sell on vendor central to meet requirements set by Amazon. If you need support, we’re here to help or answer questions.

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