Amazon Seller Central Operational Updates for Seasonal Peak

Nov 17, 2022 1:30 PM2:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

Since marketplace trends are prone to significant and sometimes unexpected changes, it’s important to adapt your business accordingly. However, the overwhelming amount of information available can be difficult to navigate. How can you effectively adjust your business’ priorities without compromising competitiveness?

The marketplace is teeming with information on current strategies and best practices shared between partners, vendors, and manufacturers. Navigating relevant data can seem daunting, but understanding the market processes to their core is what can give your business a competitive advantage. The best way to exchange ideas is with other industry leaders who analyze such data to increase profitability and minimize operational errors.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant welcomes Nicole Reich, Co-founder and Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Retail Bloom, and Courtney Washer, Marketplace Operations Manager at Retail Bloom. They break down Amazon's 1P (first-party) and 3P (third-party) processes, the recent changes that have impacted businesses using Seller Central (3P), how to avoid SKU errors in shipments, and how to utilize all these changes to increase profitability for your business.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Courtney Washer discusses Amazon’s 1P (first-party) Vendor Central and 3P (third-party)Seller Central processes
  • How Amazon’s changes are impacting Seller Central and businesses across the platform
  • Courtney shares the most common SKU errors that impact shipment
  • What will happen to Amazon shipments that were sent out before November 1?
  • Nicole Reich talks about general timeframes for inventory acceptance by Amazon
  • Nicole and Courtney’s insights on Amazon's restock limitations
  • Transitioning between Amazon's Vendor Central and Seller Central
  • How to utilize Amazon's changes to increase profitability
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Event Partners

Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Retail Bloom recently merged with Blue Wheel to form one of the leading Omni-Channel Digital Commerce Agencies, with over $1 Billion under management across its clients.

Connect with Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Nicole Reich LinkedIn

VP of Sales & Marketing at Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Nicole Reich is the Chief Growth Officer at Blue Wheel, which merged with Retail Bloom to deliver end-to-end DTC, eCommerce, and marketplace solutions. Nicole strives to guide eCommerce success by working closely with manufacturers and partners and offering a full-service array of marketing solutions.

Courtney Washer LinkedIn

Operations Manager at Retail Bloom

Courtney Washer is the Marketplace Operations Manager at Retail Bloom. Her professional skills are focused on running the internal operations involved in managing the seller central accounts as well as adapting to strategies and changes that affect the marketplace daily. Courtney holds several Amazon licenses and certifications as an expert in the field.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Nicole Reich LinkedIn

VP of Sales & Marketing at Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Nicole Reich is the Chief Growth Officer at Blue Wheel, which merged with Retail Bloom to deliver end-to-end DTC, eCommerce, and marketplace solutions. Nicole strives to guide eCommerce success by working closely with manufacturers and partners and offering a full-service array of marketing solutions.

Courtney Washer LinkedIn

Operations Manager at Retail Bloom

Courtney Washer is the Marketplace Operations Manager at Retail Bloom. Her professional skills are focused on running the internal operations involved in managing the seller central accounts as well as adapting to strategies and changes that affect the marketplace daily. Courtney holds several Amazon licenses and certifications as an expert in the field.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Thursday, everybody. My name is Aaron Conant, I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director here at BWG Connect we are a giant networking knowledge sharing group of 1000s of brands who do exactly that we networking knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it might be that shaping digital growth today. That's obviously different this week than it was, you know, five months ago. And so we'd like to stay on top of the trends. So we do that by connecting one on one with brands, probably a bunch of people on the line today we talked with and really appreciate and like think brands that reach out and put one on one sessions on the calendar with us. That's how we get the topics, the most relevant topics to be covering on an ongoing basis, we're going to do close to 250 virtual events like this this year, and close to 104 small format dinners if anybody would like to see those, we're relaunching the website where you can just look in sort on dinners. If you're in a you know, tier one cities around the US, we probably have one or multiple over the next year near you and love to have you there. A couple housekeeping items as we get started. Number one, we're kicking this off at, you know, three to four minutes after the hour. And we're going to wrap up with at least three to four minutes left in the hour as well. I'm gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. The other thing is we do want it to be as educational and informational. So at any point in time, if you have questions drop into the chat, or drop into the q&a. Or you can always email me Aaron Any questions that you have been for the email that can be you know, an hour after this call tomorrow next week, always happy to jump on the phone. I spend most of my time in digital strategy sessions with brands and helping out with partner selections across the board. So that being said, today's topic is popped up, I would say started about six weeks ago. And it just has so much momentum right now we've got some great friends, partners, supporters of the network over at Retail Bloom have been great friends for years now and helping educate the community and just lending their advice. So this one is Seller Central operational updates. I think a lot of people know what's going on with Amazon the reduction in inventory levels that's on the one P side as well as the three P side which we're going to primarily focus on today. Nicole, I'm gonna kick it over to you if you want to do a brief intro on yourself and Retail Bloom. That'd be awesome. I know, Courtney's on with you as well. But I'll kind of kick it over to you if you want to take the steering wheel here. 

Nicole Reich 2:45

Thanks, everyone. Thanks, Aaron. Hi, everyone. I'm Nicole, one of the Co-founders of Retail Bloom, I lead all of our marketing and sales efforts. I've been with the company since the beginning. And I'm super excited to dig in into our FBA topic today. As Aaron mentioned, I think every question we are getting from our brands and manufacturers in our space is what's going on with vendor central POS, I'm going to sack out or I have a seller account, and I am a little afraid that I'm not gonna be able to stay in stock going into the busiest time of the year given the FBA restock limits. So unlike some of our other discussions where it's more growth strategic hybrid, I know, you know, you and I have gone back and forth on those types of topics for years, this one is going to be very process driven and a little bit more tactical. We want to give you an idea of what the updates have been what this means for your business. And with that I wanted to bring in an expert from our team, Courtney washer, who's our marketplace Operations Manager and, Courtney, I'll pass it over to you to introduce yourself before I do the agenda and background on Dublin. Yeah, perfect. 

Courtney Washer 3:54

Thanks, Nicole. And thanks to Aaron. Hey, everyone. Like Nicole said, my name is Courtney washer. I've been with the company pretty much since the early days, which has given me a lot of exposure to most of the operational pieces of running a seller central account internally. And a big part of what our team does is respond to changes or rollouts on the Amazon marketplace and help all of our internal operational teams adapt to those rollouts. So most of you are probably here because you know, Amazon's changing daily and sometimes by the hour, and basically our goal is to stay on top of those changes, adapt internally and then roll out communication or training as needed to brands and clients that we're partnering with. So excited to dive into this. It's a big topic. It's a lot of the communication we're hearing across the industry, and I'm just excited to recap it today. 

Nicole Reich 4:52

Awesome. For those of you who were had on this first webinar with Retail Bloom, just some quick background on what we do. So our purpose is to guide eCommerce success with our brand partners and manufacturers. High level we have three pieces of our business on the left side, it's on marketplaces. So our managed services model, we manage vendor central Seller Central, across Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Amazon, global and Walmart, Canada. And when we do that, we are a pretty full service offering. So anywhere from brand protection, which is our services on the right, content management, customer service, expansion, marketing and advertising, reporting, all of that is included based on the tailored solution that we create for the brands we partner with. And then we also have a piece of our business that is solely three P. Most of the time, that is with brands who don't want to sell directly to Amazon aren't ready to have their own seller account, but want to preferred or exclusive reseller. In that scenario, we have our own warehouses, we place POS, we resell the products on the marketplaces. And we're still doing all of those items above. So this puts us in a really good spot to understand both vendor Central and Seller Central. And like Courtney said, when we figure it out for our own three P accounts, we then roll it out to all of our partners in either direct conversations or webinars like this. So for our agenda today, two big topics, one of them being the changes to the FBA shipment process, and then the other being restack limits on the seller central side, specifically. So in both of those scenarios, we'll just talk about what has what is the update, whether it be the new send to Amazon process or restock limits? How does this change the previous process? And then how does this impact your business and then at the end, we'll talk about takeaways. So with that, I will pass it over to you Courtney to focus on Send to Amazon first. 

Courtney Washer 6:50

Awesome. So like Nicole said to start high level looking at Amazon's rollout of a new process for sending inventory into FBA. Given some of what we're dealing with today. This seems like a much smaller issue and a past issue. But we felt it was a good thing to recap in this just because we're still working with partners to put in some operational changes so that they can adapt to this rollout. So just starting, we've got the news release up on the screen here. In June, Amazon announced that the way that we've been sending inventory for years to FBA fulfillment centers was changing. And most brands or sellers who are selling in their own Seller Central account were impacted by this. Amazon for their release said it was their improved streamline ship and creation workflow, which improved the old workflow with new technology and a refreshed interface. They called out some specific benefits to rolling this out two of the big ones being that you could create case pack templates in your uploads to sending inventory to Amazon, which wasn't an option before. And they called out that this should in theory, be less steps to ship if you've adapted to this workflow, you know that that's not always the case. But those were the benefits they called out. What we're also seeing internally is that this really aligned more with the process for shipping inventory into vendor Central on the one piece side. And for me Amazon's point of view, we feel like this created more of a consistent workflow for them and receiving goods across the board, which ideally would create some efficiencies on their side. And in that receipt part, 

Nicole Reich 8:38

Yeah so Courtney I think that's a good thing to point out. So for our brands that have one P vendor Central and three P Seller Central, this new center Amazon process on the seller central side wasn't a huge disruption because they were already doing a similar process on vendor central for our brands that are Seller Central only. This was much more disruptive, because basically, they started on September one and then initiated it basically at the beginning of this month of this month with little training. So those that are exclusive seller, central were those that struggled with this one a little bit more, because they didn't they weren't already used to the process on vendor central side. 

Courtney Washer 9:19

Yeah, that's that is a good call out because for us internally, we are running the three P's side, we're running our own accounts, right. Our warehouse had to adapt to this. I mean, this was the only thing we talked about for six weeks. But we had brands who were running one p and three P where it was a much easier training for them because they were already part in the process. They call out. So recapping just what the previous process was. It used to be pretty easy to upload the products that you wanted to send into FBA, you would get a breakdown of the errors that, you know maybe a SKU needed had to be labeled. And so you had to create a different offering, maybe the SKU didn't exist in your Seller Central account, it was pretty easy to see what errors, were stopping a few from going on an upload, and you'd fix that, remove it, whatever it was, and you would be good to go. You'd set your prep and label requirements for a shipment, you confirm quantities, and then you would get a shipment breakdown, which basically said, these 10 skews and these 100 items are going to California, while these five skews and 12 items are going to Pennsylvania. And then for us. Each of those shipments was what we loaded into our ERP for our warehouse and ops team to pick so it was really easy. It was at that time really easy to have a picking ticket to create it that corresponded to each of those individual shipments, then the teams were able to work through each shipment individually clean up and reconciliation was that the shipment level and then everything processed through each of those shipment IDs. That was that was high level what the previous process was. What has changed.

Overall, the entire process has changed, I would say today, we're finding that even though the process changed, a lot of the steps are similar to what they used to be they're just in different cadences and in, in different measures. So some of them are much more complicated, and some of them are a lot easier. And they've just changed the way that those are being processed. So what's changing? Overall, the biggest thing is you don't know how your your upload is gonna break down into shipments until the very end until you've told Amazon exactly what then each box that you're shipping to the fulfillment center, exactly. The units, the quantity, the dimensions of the product, all of that you don't know where that product is going. So that was the biggest change for us. What it did positively do is it put us or sellers in the driver's seat and how they wanted to ship inventory in. So previously, we got a shipment breakdown, we knew these 100 units, were going to California, we had to pull those off of either out of our warehouse off the shelves or off of the PIO coming into our warehouse, and basically pull inventory from all different locations to put in these boxes that were going to those fulfillment centers. Now what this allows us to do is say, we have this inventory in this location in our warehouse to ship in this is how we are packing it, Amazon tell us where to send it. So it has put us in the driver's seat. A little bit more on how we're shipping inventory. And some of the other positive changes, the shipping, or I'm sorry, the pack template. So you're able to create a template for a product now, which is really, really helpful. If you're sending the same SKU over and over again, you can pre load what that how that SKU is packed, and the prep requirements that you want Amazon to recognize for that SKU ahead of time, and it's a lot simpler to add to a shipping workflow now. So that part's been really good. Um, the prep requirements are also set at the upload stage. And then they stay consistent through every upload that you do, which is which is helped us internally because the team that uploading the shipments to Amazon for us is different than the team that's actually doing the work and packing the products in the warehouse. And so we have a lot, we used to have a lot more communication back and forth on by shipment, what we wanted the prep rate regulations to be

Some of the negative pieces of this new send to Amazon workflow for us items, we're finding items can air out at any given point in in the Send to Amazon phase. So it used to be you'd upload items, they would air off if there was some kind of issue and you knew you had to deal with that. We're finding now that we're uploading the items to Amazon, we're saying this is what's coming to your fulfillment centers. And Amazon is telling us everything's good, we're sending it to our warehouse, they're packing it up, and they don't realize there's an error on an item until we hit that shipping phase. And that's been a huge workaround and a huge obstacle that our teams had to figure out because the items are already packed in the box. They're already ready to go and then we have to go back to our warehouse team and say, we need you to go to box 32 and pull out this one unit of this one specific skill set. Oh, that's what we've noticed as being the biggest change in the whole process and what we've had to work through.

Nicole Reich 15:08

So Courtney has an example of that when you prior when you uploaded a shipment, and let's say that the asin was down for whatever reason, he proceeded mass in the back end, there were outstanding catalog issues that didn't have really anything to do with the shipment, what was causing a problem at the asin level, before sending in that shipment, you could just remove that asin have a different team fix whatever was wrong with that Asin. And then once it was fixed, put it back on an order. So now since it errors out at the end, you're creating a shipment for however many skews and whatever quantity, the warehouse picks it all. You go to do the last step, and then Amazon saying, Oh, wait, this asin has a problem. You can't send in this one SKU. Is that a good summary of that portion?

Courtney Washer 15:56

Yeah, yep. And then our warehouse team is the one absorbing that extra work at this point where before we just removed it off the shipment? And we said, Yeah, okay, that's good to go. It's our warehouse team. Now that's having to remove that and do the work to find the product.

Nicole Reich 16:11

What type of errors typically come up that cause Amazon to need to remove an SKU from a shipment? 

Courtney Washer 16:19

Yeah, good question. So right now a lot of what we're running into is either duplicate SKU issues. So Amazon doesn't actually we do a lot of we do everything we do, we also have an FBM offer for and so a lot of times Amazon, regardless of the SKU that we upload, they're trying to assign that inventory to the wrong SKU. So it all kicked back that it's not an FBA SKU, or that it can't be fulfilled at this time. We're also with the new process, we're running into a lot of issues where our dimensions and our product information in the back end isn't set up correctly. And so when we're uploading bots, content information, Amazon's recognizing a disconnect. And so we're having to go back and fix some of those attributes on the product. 

Nicole Reich 17:08

Got it. Okay. So for us when we have four skews for examples, because sometimes we have an FBA SKU, and FBM SKU a dropship SKU, and then at one point, we add an FBA on site or a seller fulfilled prime SKU, we would upload it at the skewer asin level and because the shipment wasn't taught was tied to an FBM SKU versus the FBA SKU, it would error out. 

Courtney Washer 17:34


Nicole Reich 17:35

Got it. Okay. So I think that the takeaway on on how to make sure that you're not spending a ton of time going backwards after shipments are created is that it puts even more emphasis on the importance of keeping the catalog clean within Seller Central. So the more skews you have, the more ASINs you have, the more sellers you have that could impact the back end of the catalog that is going to going to cause errors across the board, not just into this FBA shipment piece. But this is another piece of that puzzle that speaks to the importance of keeping basically your source of truth as clean as possible within the back end of Seller Central. 

Courtney Washer 18:17

Yeah, for sure. And I think in the old process, we if we hit an error that we really couldn't get around, we'd create a new skill in the account, right. So we'd, you know, something went from not being fn SKU to being fn SKU, we just create a new SKU and move on. And the new process seems to be unsure of which of those queues to grab, regardless of what we're putting on the template. So I think to that point, cleaning up old skews, as well as really, really important in this because Amazon starting to assign inventory to the incorrect skews when they receive it, even if it let's say it makes it through the Senate Amazon process, then we've got inventory tied to the incorrect SKU in the back end, because you've got multiple listings tied to the same asin or offers tied to the same Asin. Great. 

Nicole Reich 19:10

Well, thank you. Yep. Then we're going to click Next on this one. 

Courtney Washer 19:14

Yeah, you're good. 

Nicole Reich 19:15

Thank you. 

Courtney Washer 19:17

So impact on current processes, I would say we noticed the biggest impact in three different areas for us time communication, and then our software's and our ERPs that we partner with or use to operate our business. So starting with time, we have found it takes longer to ship our goods into FBA. We've got multiple teams that work on it. So I mentioned the team placing the orders different from the team filling the order. There's a lot of time between when we can get an order uploaded to Amazon and a workflow created and The time that that order ships out the door. It's also created manual process within our warehouse teams and forced us to use the bots content labels, which we were really good at getting around before send to Amazon. And that's just become a very manual process for us, our warehouse team is having to create these box content labels to provide for each of those workflows before they can ship products out. So time has been our biggest impact, I would say and it is getting better. I think part of it is a new process on Amazon. Anytime you roll out something new people react to change, and it's taken us time to figure out what the actual impact is going to be and how to get around that. Communications another one, so we have had to increase communication between our teams and living in a remote world. Now, that's not always easy to do, because you have two different teams trying to communicate through, you know, Microsoft Teams or slack. And that becomes difficult and increases the time to fix a fix an issue. It's also increased our communication between us and our clients. So as Nicole mentioned, in the beginning, we do inventory replenishment, and shipment management for some of our clients. And we're having to get involved in much larger capacity than we had to before. The last piece and this is getting better. But even though Amazon gave a notice that this was coming, a lot of the software providers that we use to operate our Seller Central Business, were not prepared for this rollout when it happened. And so November 2, when this officially rolled out, and our old workarounds weren't working, we kind of had to put a pause on any of the software's that we were using until they could adapt to these processes. So some of those instances have been our ERP, we used to put each individual shipment into our ERP so that our warehouse team had a picking ticket. And then our reconciliation software had a shipment ID to reconcile to that has changed because we don't get those shipments until the very end. So we've had to do some manual, our unique workarounds, integrating the shipments into our ERP for our warehouse team, we've also had to put some workarounds in place until our reconciliation, software's can catch up with the new process. So we are having to manually reconcile some of these shipments or manually check to make sure Amazon's receiving them until our partners catch up with us update. Well, the other things I would say it's doing right now we're trying to adapt Amazon's excuse me, Amazon said that, you're only going to be able to see those old shipments in your Seller Central account through November. And we tend to look at those pretty regularly just to see the history of sending inventory. And then it's a really clean breakdown of what's been happening, those are going away. So we're making sure that all of those old shipments are in our ERP so that we can and up to date so we can monitor them. Um, one of the biggest I would say reporting impacts we noticed is that these workflows, for those of you familiar with the Manage FBA inventory report in Seller Central, it's taken us a while to realize that these workflows no longer show quantity in the working status. So we used to be able to get a pretty clear picture of what we had in our warehouse on working order shipped to Amazon and Amazon by using that report. And we can't use that to see what's currently being worked on in our warehouse anymore. And then one of the largest benefits this over the last, probably since 2020. We were running into issues where Amazon would start receiving shipments before they had even left our facility. So we wouldn't have a 5000 unit shipment in our warehouse that our team was working on. And all of a sudden that status will get changed to receiving in Amazon system. And there was nothing you could do to move that back to working you had to create a new upload and re-upload those products and a majority of the time those products would break down into separate shipments again, we were constantly running into this back and forth of having to re-upload inventory sheet. And one of the benefits of send to Amazon is that we have not had a shipment get marked as receiving because of the change in process. So that is one of the pieces our warehouse has been really excited about because they've actually had to the the time that they've had to spend re-uploading shipments and reprocessing items has decreased. 

Nicole Reich 25:18

Awesome. So, Courtney, I have we've got questions coming in. But I have one clarifying question that I want to make sure I understand correctly. So the old shipments before November 1 are going away. Like we're not going to be able to see those within Seller Central. Did I understand you correctly?

Courtney Washer 25:38

Yeah, correct. So anything that was shipped using the US send and replenish inventory workflow, which was the old workflow, those you're not going to be able to see those shipments after November 30. Yet, allow? According to Amazon, I will say this rolled out so late that I have a feeling it'll probably be mid-December when those disappear. But yeah, you're not going to be able to see those anymore. 

Nicole Reich 26:02

Okay. How are sellers then able to reconcile shipments then? 

Courtney Washer 26:09

Yeah, that's, that's a really good, I would say key question. And all this, our reconciliation partner is working to reconcile those send to Amazon shipments ahead of time, basically, because they're gonna lose visibility into it. That's also part of this rollout was originally supposed to be September 16. And then I or September 1, and then October 16. I can see Amazon pushing that that visibility window out just because we've got shipments we sent in on November 1, that we can't reconcile for 60 to 90 days. So I would guess that that timeline gets pushed out. But if not, it's it's a great question. 

Nicole Reich 26:57

So something to put on the radar if you have not, if you don't, if you are in the current process of reconciling shipments, and that's part of your day to day, whether that's internal or external. Through an agent partner, I would really get aggressive as you can over the next couple of weeks on going backwards to reconcile shipments because they may or may not be there on December 1. Crazy. Yeah. Couple of other questions that have come through. So one person asked about having the recording. Absolutely. We will send this out. It usually takes about a week. I believe Pat's on this call from the BWG team. As soon as we get it from him, we will send that out. And then some A question came in Courtney about setting up templates for pallets for each SKU. And I'm one I'm just gonna read this aloud to you. So I make sure I I communicate it right. Have you heard any news of send to Amazon for making it easier to send in pallets? It would be great if there was a way to have a state pallet configuration for each SKU, they never send in mixed pallets. So they have to manually change Amazon's estimate estimated pallet dimensions for every shipment?

Courtney Washer 28:08

That yeah, that's a really good question. I know, I've heard that from our ops team, I have not seen an enhancement or even an update on an enhancement come through on that. I think it would benefit a lot of sellers, because I think a lot of sellers tend to ship one SKU with the same dimensions of pallet regularly, but I have not seen a workflow that makes that easier.

Nicole Reich 28:34

Okay. And we can put that as a takeaway, just to follow up with our inventory team or shipping team just to see if they've seen anything changed. But as far as we know, nothing has been updated on that front. Someone else had asked about what does the timeline look like and how much lead time would accompany need, in order to get the product on time. I'm going to ask maybe some clarifying questions. And if you can put it in the chat, that would be great. But I'm assuming that maybe you don't have a seller central or you don't do FBA today, and you're just wanting to get an idea of how long this takes from uploading an order to getting it live on Amazon. Hopefully that is the right clarification. And what I would say is that typically our inventory team relies on or tries to have at least 40 to 45 days of inventory on hand at FBA. In order to ensure that we're not stocking out. That's kind of our minimum. Okay, awesome. Thank you. That's typically our minimum and the reason for that 45 days of inventory on hand which has been impacted in our recycling mints in a second which is our second topic for today is because some things are in your control when shipping to Amazon and some things are not as an example, we can create an order. Maybe it takes two days from the order that is created in Seller Central to get Get out of our doors and on its way to FBA. In general, like I said, for us, it's anywhere from one to four days depending on how backed up our warehouses. So call that just a week, just for sake of the example, once it gets to Amazon, we have found their receiving times to be anywhere from, I don't know, Courtney a week to four weeks in the middle of COVID, when things were just sitting outside warehouses and not getting received. So a little bit of that is up to Amazon. And that's why we want to have 45 days on hand, because there are times where things can get received in at least shipping ground in a day. And then there are times where we send in pallets and they don't get received in for weeks. So it really depends what you want to build that I guess into your lead times for your days of hand at FBA. So that when something gets delayed, whether there'll be a delay in your warehouse or a delay in receiving, you still have enough inventory live at FBA, so that you don't stock out. 

Courtney Washer 31:07

Yeah, I think to that point I, from our end, this year has actually been well, despite the next topic that we're going to talk about this year from a timing standpoint has actually been the quickest that I've seen Amazon receive inventory since the pandemic hit there. Our average turnaround time right now is three days in our warehouse, three to four days in our warehouse, and then Amazon's receiving within a week for most shipments. So that's the quickest. I mean, I would say that's actually way better than what I would have anticipated it being this year. But they're throwing other challenges at us. That's why. 

Nicole Reich 31:49

Cool. So before we get to the restock limits, Aaron, any other questions before we move on?

Aaron Conant 31:57

I don't have any I can double check. Just refresh the inbox right now. Nope, we're good.

Nicole Reich 32:04

 Cool. All right. So Oh, go ahead, Courtney. 

Courtney Washer 32:10

Sorry. Um, so this is probably the bigger update that people are interested in. In talking about, we anticipate this being more conversational and more questions coming out of this. And this is the restock limits that are a part of every seller central account. But there's been some recent changes that I think people are a little bit more frustrated with. So reset limits, just to kind of recap what they are reset limits were put into place back in 2020. And it was basically a cap of inventory by seller that Amazon allowed sellers to send in. So they're saying per each category that you see up on the screen. You This is how much inventory you're allowed to have related to each of those categories. And sellers have had to pick and choose what they're sending in and what products matter the most to their business, that keep them within those limits. That rolled out in 2020. It was a big workaround for most sellers, and then it kind of streamlined over the last year and a half 12 to 18 months, somewhere in there. Towards the end of October, we started seeing some drastic restock limit changes. I think it was October 24. We logged in and we were way over our limit on every category that we had space in when we logged off on Friday, the Friday before so overall, yeah, I'm seeing some notes come in limits were cut in half. The date was October 24 was when we saw it. And when most of our clients thought we were seeing some cut up to 60 or 70%. So there was a large decrease that took place. And sellers just kind of froze. I mean, there was there was nothing sellers could do on that day. And it became a really hot topic for most of our calls with our clients. The other thing that happened on that day. So cadence for restock limits used to be once a week, and it was pretty much Monday you logged in and you had your new restock limits. And then you had those limits for the entire week and the following Monday. you logged in and you had new limit. Those were changing minorly if you weren't actually tracking yours, you probably didn't even know what your limits were. We that week, the week of October 24th. We saw a different limit in every account all week. So Monday we logged in, they'd been cut drastically. Tuesday it kind of looked like there was a little bit of hope they increased slightly more in our counts. And we thought, maybe it's an Amazon glitch, maybe something's just happening Wednesday, they dropped significantly again. And then if I'm remembering correctly Friday with the next change, and they went up a little bit, so they just the cadence of how often they were changing was all over the place, then what going back to the send Amazon piece with this send to Amazon process, your units are not locked, locked in anymore when your workflow is uploaded. So you used to be able to get those items that you had in working status to be a part of your utilization. And that's not happening anymore. So you could get increased limits on that Tuesday, put in a shipment, rushed into your warehouse, and then Wednesday login and not be able to ship that shipment because you were over utilization. So it was extremely frustrating that that week was bad. I'm being honest. And it was just all over the place. There was no rhyme or reason to what was happening. 

Nicole Reich 36:09

So a couple of things that point out. Well, one point and then one question core is, at the same time, that was just a little bit about misery loves company discussion, because going back to that week, that is one of the primary weeks that we are shipping and products and FDA for the holiday season. And at the same time of Amazon saying, Hey, here's your deadlines product has to hit by this date to be approved or confirmed that it's gonna be ready for Black Friday. They were telling you at the same time, well, you actually can't ship that in. You know, it was it was a it gave me March 2020 vibes where it felt like everyone was just screaming and saying how am I going to ensure that I have product live for the busiest time of the year? If I can't send it in? I think it's gotten from what I'm hearing a little bit, it's gotten a little bit better. But one of the questions that came in is, does anyone know when the restock limits will be lifted? I know the answer is no. But also I don't anticipate this type of restock limit process ever going away. I think if it if it was going to go away, we would have seen it over the last couple of years. I think that back in 2020. The reason that this came up is that obviously when everything shut down, econ blew up, Amazon blew up, they didn't have the capacity to to receive the products, right, they were prioritizing essential goods, and then anyone else that were not in those categories, couldn't ship anything in. And I think what they learned through that, and actually as we did for sellers is that before 2020 I think FBA sellers just sent in whatever they wanted. And they were comfortable with just paying long term storage fees, not really paying attention to sell through. And that costs Amazon does sit on that inventory. So yes, the restock limits may go up or down depending on capacity, depending on what they expect the the demand to be over the next couple of months. But I actually don't think it ever is going to go away. I think Amazon is going to continue to do a better job of ensuring that whether it's vendor Central or Seller Central, they are telling everyone what can be shipped in, and they're going to focus on the products that turn quickly, which actually kind of goes to our IPI score a little bit. Do you agree with that?

Courtney Washer 38:24

Yeah, definitely, I think. And we did this too, right, we would ship good pre 2020, we would ship goods and not really knowing what part of the catalog would sell or maybe over forecasting so that we didn't go out of stock we'd ship goods in, and then January rolled around, and we would remove all of the goods that didn't didn't work didn't sell all of the excess inventory or a lot of it. And I think from Amazon standpoint, it's really hard to forecast and no demand when people are just using their fulfillment centers as storage spaces. And that I would agree with you that I don't think restock limits are going away, I think we will always have some version of limitations within our accounts. If for those of you that remember in 2020 We actually had asin level restrictions. This was I think, Amazon has given us a little bit more freedom and said you know you can send whatever you want within these limitations were 18 months ago, they were saying you can only send 20 units of product X but I would agree I don't I think these are here to stay and I think we just have to adapt to what vacuum they put around it at that given time. So in jumping into the just what we what we would call the best practices for dealing with these restock limits, there's obviously no perfect equation and if someone out there knows it, I'd love to connect to after this because we have certainly not found Under, but we've found some things that we think help improve this limitation within accounts. Biggest thing our team is working on right now, Nicole alluded to this a little bit earlier, we are adjusting our timelines and our replenishment schedules. So we operationally our process has always been to keep 45 days of inventory on hand, including lead times and looking at, you know, turnaround times, and our warehouse and all of that. We, when this rolled out, we took our days of inventory from 45 to 21 days, we cut it in half. And we are sending in smaller amounts of inventory more frequently. We've got the ability to do that with our partners and with with the brands that we wholesale for because they understand the limitations, but it has been a huge process to change the way we're thinking about inventory to account for lead times and Amazon receiving times and really just try and nail down like what's the optimal days of inventory on hand. So we're currently ordering at a 21 day on hand rate. Consider considering additional business models, we are encouraging all of our partners, and we're doing this ourselves to be FBM, fulfilled by merchant on 100% of your catalog. We've also seen over the last couple of holiday seasons or during the pandemic where Amazon gave by bots to FBM sellers, because they were overwhelmed and couldn't keep up with the demand and couldn't deliver on time. And so we for that reason, as well as not being able to ship all of the inventory, we want to be prime in we are offering FBM and 100% of our catalog currently and shipping those from our warehouse as needed. There's also dropship option if you're partnering with a dropship company or you can drop ship from you know, the manufacturer, the warehouse yourself, we encourage that a couple of our brands, we've actually got FBA FBM and drop ship on. And then the other model that we're hearing people consider is one P backup. So going with vendor Central, creating a vendor Central account and trying to get some inventory in through one P obviously that comes with its own risks and challenges. But going that hybrid model in some scenarios, 

Nicole Reich 42:36

yeah, I would clarify that one a little bit Court. So if let's say that you were vendor central at one time, and then shifted over to Seller Central. And we've had a lot of conversations and I have talked about pros and cons of that. If you have if you're 100% Seller Central now, but you have a a dormant vendor Central account, or you have a vendor Central account that has a few schemes, but not all of your catalog, it might be worth turning them back on. And I know that really defeats a lot of the other things that I've said in previous calls where there's certain skews that should go seller and certain skews that should go vendor. But the alternative is that you potentially just stuck out right. So basically, what I would summarize this, this consider additional business models is that start to list out what are all of our options, right? Do we have a backup one key account? Could we leverage another third party seller that we used to sell to in the past and could turn back on because they have space? Could we find a third party seller that maybe we don't have a seller account or we can't do FBM. But if we turn these products on dropship through another seller, they can do them sending in obviously like Courtney said the were smaller shipments but doing them more often? Or potentially just thinking about worst case scenario. Okay, if we go out of stock, what does this mean and then adjusting the forecast accordingly? 

Courtney Washer 44:03

Yeah, I think that's the piece, probably the biggest piece that we've had to adapt to is working with our clients to understand the impact on the business. So some of these things are out of our control and FBM in most scenarios is not going to fulfill the forecasts that you had with that product being FBA. But we've had to get really real with our clients and communicate what this means overall.

Nicole Reich 44:28

Yeah. Another example of that is that some of our clients IPI scores is not very great. So they have way lower restock limits than they should. And it's because they're sitting on a bunch of inventory that, you know, we propose, hey, you should do a removal order, but they never did, because, you know, it's costly. They don't want to bring that inventory back. And now there's not really any other option, hey, you have to do a removal order for the slow things that you've paid for and long term storage fees, but I have always previously been reluctant to bring those back if you bring them back. You might improve your IPI score, and then you can send in more down the road. What is the current cost of removal orders? So it is a, it's a per unit removal fee, based on the size of the product.

Courtney Washer 45:17

Yeah, so it's normally between 50 and 60 cents per product, I believe. Currently, it's 55 on the standard and 65 on the oversize but it's right in that range somewhere. Plus, in the on the extra large items. It's more than that.

Nicole Reich 45:34

And they pay for the shipping. Right, Courtney, when that happens?

Courtney Washer 45:38


Nicole Reich 45:39

So 30 cents, 65 cents a unit to get a product back, and Amazon pays for the shipping from their warehouses back to your warehouse.

Courtney Washer 45:47

 Yeah, cool. Yeah, a couple other strategic pieces here. I know we're running up on time. So I'm gonna touch on these high level. Obviously, we're moving into your slower moving product, looking at removal orders, looking at excess inventory, looking at seasonal items, what is in the fulfillment centers today that doesn't need to be for holiday, and can be shipped in after the holidays. Also, if you have an S A S rep, or a growth rep or anyone at Amazon, that you are partnered with, pulling them into the conversation and having them regularly request restock limit is really, really important. Depending on which team you're working with, some will tell you they can't do it, they most likely can. But if you don't have someone you're working with in Amazon, opening up a case every single day in your Seller Central asking for more storage space, it seems monotonous and it seems super silly and very simple. But pestering Amazon to get you additional restock limits is worth it, whichever avenue you can get in there.

Nicole Reich 46:56

And when you do that, whether you're working with an SDS rep or with a new Amazon seller, central team, or opening up tickets, just like the other ways that we communicate to Amazon, please make sure to create that business case. explain to them why you need the space, explain to them what you've already done to hopefully help the the issue and then explain to them what you need be very specific, and I need this, I believe for the next 60 days, I need this many units, or I need this space in order to ensure that I don't stop out and provide and with the goal of providing the best experience for the customer. So be very specific, especially when you're communicating with the Amazon teams directly on what you've done, why you need it. And the actual ask, right? It's not just hey, I need more restock limits. It's here's what I've done already. I've done a removal order we set up dropship we turn on advertising or investing in promotions. And I still need X amount of units in order to stay in stock. Can you help me out? 

Courtney Washer 48:06

Yeah, left Left piece on that. And this one gets overlooked quite a bit. But it could potentially put you in a situation where you're moving inventory quicker. In certain for certain items. If you ship using Amazon's partnered carrier through UPS, then inventory actually goes live as soon as Amazon sees tracking on your shipments to their fulfillment centers. And customers can buy that product. There have been references made that Amazon then receives those shipments quicker if they have orders that they're waiting to fulfill for customers through that. But I would also suggest around this time of the year looking at moving over to UPS partnered carrier through Amazon, which is where you actually buy shipping through Seller Central, so that that inventories live as soon as it leaves your dock

Nicole Reich 48:58

Instead of waiting it for it to be received and happy and go live. 

Courtney Washer 49:02

Yeah. Receive transferred. Put on the shelf. Yes.

Nicole Reich 49:07

Yeah, that's a that's a good little nugget. Courtney, thank you for remembering that one. So I think we've got about five minutes tops left. There are a couple of questions. Um, Courtney, how have you used the request more storage space inventory button within Seller Central that is a new one. I didn't even know that was there. 

Courtney Washer 49:28

Yeah, I am being honest, we haven't. We have gone through our SCS rep for everything that we've needed. And then on our accounts where we don't have the isas. We're just opening cases. So this is one I'm probably going to have to take back to my team and and see what that's about.

Nicole Reich 49:48

And then the next question, I'm not sure I understand this one. Um, do we think that the low ASP program were one P manufacturers add a number of national non ecom items What is the cause of amazon seller central issues? Can you clarify that a little bit? Maybe in the chat? Because I'm not sure what that means? Oh, supply chain? Do you feel that the low ASP program? is the cause of Amazon? supply chain issues? Got it? Um, I'm not sure that I will be able to provide like a most accurate answer to this, I guess I can give you feedback. If I'm understanding correctly, as Amazon expands one p or develops new programs, like by with prime, they're getting an influx of inventory for other things not related to Amazon, like Amazon retail that might be taking up space. Okay. I'm not sure. I would say maybe I don't I maybe that's a correlation. We don't really, we complain about why things happen for about a day. And then we say, okay, we can't change it. What are we going to do about it? So I haven't heard that specifically from the Amazon team or from anyone else in the industry. But if it comes up, if that's a reason, I wouldn't be too surprised.

Aaron Conant 51:08

Yeah, I'll jump in really quick. I'm not sure that it can be tagged to anything. It's just what's happening right now, as Amazon has a huge focus on profitability. And that includes reducing overall weeks of cover, but also inventory space. And on top of that you have, which I think a lot of people have dealt with is really smart people at Amazon, but not necessarily business savvy. And I've had instances so I'm, I'm talking to 20 or 30 brands a week and a lot of people in the direct import program. That PIO, a DI Pio would come in for more than three weeks. And so in some cases, Amazon's not even cutting those POS. And they're literally scratching their head saying, Wait, no, no, this is for you know, this is for 24 weeks from now. This is for 18 weeks from now. Like if we don't cut this PIO, it's not coming in. So I don't know if we can tie it to any particular issue, although it's just a bunch of individual issues that are are piling up, driven overall by the profitability issue. 

Courtney Washer 52:12

So yes, I would agree with that, Aaron. 

Nicole Reich 52:16

Cool. Well, I know we are running up on time, if anyone has any additional questions that we weren't able to get to, please feel free to shoot Arun an email or you can email me directly, I believe I'll get an intro to all of you shortly anyways, but happy to connect outside of this. Just a quick recap of the three takeaways. So send to Amazon is officially live as of November 2. If you're running into problems right now, I would highly recommend trying to fix your processes because it is here and here to stay number to look at your IPI and your restack limits to determine which levers need to be pulled to improve the overall instock rate. So those I don't expect to go away anytime soon, either. So planning for backups now. And then what those backups could be would be FBM, or other sellers or potentially going one p or even dropship. So just wanted to have those three takeaways, not anything specific, more. So just best practices. And like I said, if there's any other questions, we'd be happy to hop on a call in the next couple of weeks. 

Aaron Conant 53:25

Yeah. Well, Courtney, thanks so much, Nicole, as always, just you know, fantastic. Thanks so much for being such great friends, partner support as a network. encourage anybody who dialed in today, if you have follow up questions more than more than we're setting up some time to connect with Nicole in the team over Retail Bloom, they're a great resource for a ton of brands, the network, if you're looking for just a one on one strategy call, we don't sell anything here at BWG Connect. We're just a giant networking group, always trying to stay on top of Digital Trends, but more than happy to set up just a quick digital strategy call with anybody on the line today and answer any questions. And if you're ever looking for any partners, don't hesitate to reach out. I know it's that time of year. We've been fielding a ton right now, but we can help with partner selection. And with that, we're going to wrap up once again. You know, Nicole, Courtney, thanks so much for your time today. Thanks for everybody who dialed in and all the great questions. Everybody, take care, stay safe and look forward to having you at a future event. Awesome, Nicole.

Nicole Reich 54:22

Thanks, everyone.

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