Handmade at Amazon - New Handmade Seller Fulfilled Prime

Handmade at Amazon

Article by Bob Estrin

Handmade Seller Fulfilled Prime:

I am writing from what I have read that was in writing from Amazon, heard from Amazon customer service or have read in the various forums. This is a new program fourth quarter 2018 and I have set up some items with this program and sold some of those items. Please verify information that is important to you as a seller before implementing your selling strategy. Check back for additions and updates. This article should answer many FAQ and make it easier to see if this program is right for you when it is available to additional sellers in 2019 or assist you if you are one of the limited sellers currently part of the beta or pilot program.

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Below is a very brief explanation of the new SFP program along with the initial trial period. It can be somewhat complex when you first start but will get easier as you get used to it. I think about how the complication of sending items into FBA was at the start and then got much easier as I sent in future shipments. The seller will have to determine if this initial complexity to understand is worth it for long term advantages of this program for shops that determine that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

So what is the new SFP (seller fulfilled prime) 3 - 4 business day shipping for Handmade items about? Basically it is a method for the seller to directly send an item to the customer that has the Prime badge. While currently this is a beta test program with limited sellers, it may eventually be offered to other Handmade sellers. In the future, a Handmade seller may be able to apply to be in the program when it is more open to enrollment.

The seller will have to set up existing items or create new items with a new 3 - 4 day SFP shipping template associated with those items. You can think of the 3 - 4 day SFP shipping template as the brains of the operation setting your parameters that the selected SFP items fall under. The seller will have to go through a trial period in which some items that are set up with the new 3 - 4 day SFP shipping template. A set number of SFP items will need to be sold and those sold items should arrive to the customer in time. The initial SFP items will not display with the Prime badge until the trial period is over. After the trial period, the sellers with Handmade items with the 3 - 4 day shipping template will display with the Prime badge.

The seller can modify the 3 - 4 day SFP shipping template to determine which States the customer will get 3 day shipping for and States the customer will get 4 day shipping for. The other States will default to Standard shipping with 4 - 8 business day shipping. If the seller gets a SFP order, then the seller must send out the item quickly, from their place of business, when the item delivery is to one of the listed States or regions that falls within the 3 - 4 day shipping delivery window. The production time to create the Handmade item is really not relevant and it is more about shipping out the item to the customer by a shipping service able to have the item delivered to the customer by a deadline.

There are many advantages to having some of your Handmade items that you can make fast or have them already in stock for this program. The best advantage is having the Prime badge on more of your items that do not need to be sent to Amazon as FBA items. Due to the faster shipping needs for this program, your selected items for SFP need to be selected to make sure you have enough profit to absorb your higher faster shipping costs or just add the additional shipping costs into the item price since Prime customers do not pay shipping fees on Prime items and non Prime customers may be able to purchase faster 3 - 4 day shipping for a small .99 charge depending in which State they live in. In the end, the Handmade seller will need to determine if this SFP program is right for their shop.

Update: Earlier in 2019, Amazon decided to take off the Prime badge or Prime logo from the item listings associated with the 3 - 4 day SFP shipping template. This is unfortunate since the Prime logos were showing before. I mention the Prime logo many times in this article, but the physical display of the Prime logo no longer shows on the Handmade SFP item listings. The Handmade SFP items will be selected and show up when a customer selects to see only Prime item listings, so at least we have that. You may see some of the Prime logos in some of the screen prints below, but those are older screen prints. If this beta program gets opened to all Handmade sellers, I will update those parts of the article based on the earlier design. Most of the article is still current.

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Some sellers are reading this article for information on the original SFP two day shipping program. This article is about the new and still in beta testing Handmade SFP three - four day shipping program and much of the information between the two programs are different. If you are a Handmade seller, I am not sure if the original SFP two day shipping program would be practical for most Handmade sellers. That does not mean that Handmade sellers can not participate in the original SFP two day shipping program, but that the seller should check if the extra shipping costs and need to ship out right away for Handmade items is workable. If this new Handmade SFP three - four day shipping program is offered to all Handmade sellers in the first half of 2019, then this would be a good program to test out to see if it is right for your shop.

While I refer to this new beta program as Handmade SFP in this article, I am not sure it has an official name yet. It is more of a beta program for items with a specific shipping template used for Handmade items (any price) and also Small and Light items (under $15.00). These items will display with the Prime badge and will need to be shipped in time to arrive to the customer within 3 - 4 business days or with Standard shipping of 4 - 8 business days depending on the circumstances. I mainly use the term Handmade SFP since not everything I write about may fall under the Small and Light SFP program.

I have a comment section at the bottom if you have a correction or want to add something.

Amazon offers seller fulfilled prime a few different ways which are described below. In the forums, sellers just use the term seller fulfilled prime or SFP but really should name the specific SFP program they are referring to so Facebook information given that applied to one SFP program does not get confused with another SFP program since the rules are different between the three SFP programs.

1. Seller fulfilled prime (original) with 2 day shipping delivery - This program can be good for higher volume sellers who can get a big shipping discount on the faster shipping options. This program would be best if the items are already made and ready to be shipped out the same day as the order if possible.

2. Small and light FBA - Not really seller fulfilled prime but different from small and light seller fulfilled prime with size, weight and item price limitations. Amazon also has FAQ information on the Small and Light FBA program that I recommend reading at (Click here for more information).

Note: I am not sure what the official name for the programs listed below that has small and light SFP items and Handmade SFP items in them. I refer to the Handmade SFP term in this article to refer to how this new SFP program applies to Handmade items. What I write in this article may not always apply to the small and light SFP items in this new SFP program. I made the assumption that since I thought the small and light version and the Handmade version or differences came out months apart, that they are two different programs but could be just one program with some differences between small and light and handmade.

3. Small and light seller fulfilled prime - I believe this came out mid 2018 so it is still new and has 3 - 4 day shipping delivery options and item's cost has to be $15.00 or less. Amazon also has FAQ information on the Small and Light Seller Fulfilled Prime program that I recommend reading at (Click here for more information).

4. Handmade seller fulfilled prime - This is new as of October 2018 and is still in beta / pilot being tested by a limited number of invited sellers but probably would open up to more sellers in 2019.

- This program is very similar to the small and light seller fulfilled prime with 3 - 4 day shipping delivery options without the limitation of the $15 or under item price.

- The 3-4 day SFP shipping template used for the Handmade Beta program uses the design of the existing Small & Light SFP shipping template.

- This program is for Handmade items only and those Handmade items must have at least one customization option. The item must have one or more customization options, but none of the customizatgion options need to be what would be called a personalized item such as a customer initials on the item. The other seller fulfilled prime programs can only offer one product per item such as like a FBA item with no customizations.

- There is no item size, weight or price limitations for the items you select for the Handmade SFP program.

- This article references this Handmade seller fulfilled prime program but would also cover many similar aspects of the Small and light seller fulfilled prime program.

- Handmade seller fulfilled prime items originally did display with Prime badges but now this is not true. These Handmade seller fulfilled items do display in search of Prime items, which has many advantages, even though the item is not FBA and is shipped directly from the seller to the customer.

- The seller can set up which items they would like in this program by assigning those items a special Handmade SFP shipping template. The seller can determine which States or regions of the country they would like to offer 3 day shipping delivery to and also offer 4 day shipping delivery to. All non listed States or regions will default to standard shipping of 4 - 8 business sfpshipping days.

- This program allows the Handmade seller to have a Prime badge on their Handmade items which is a very big advantage since you get this Prime badge without needing to have a FBA item or need to pay a heavy shipping price for regular 2-day SFP shipping.

- When a customer selects to choose Prime orders only in a search, these Handmade SFP items will display in the thumbnail selection but will not displaying the Prime badge as the other thumbnail images will.

Questions and answers from the Seller Fulfill Prime for Handmade team about the new Amazon Handmade Seller Fulfill Prime product:

Note: Due to these questions were answered early (4th QTR 2018) on this ever changing program, some of the information below way not be current.

This is Joana from the Amazon Seller Fulfill Prime for Handmade team, and I am happy to inform you we have reached a resolution on your case. From your correspondence I got to understand the issue at hand is concerning some questions about the program. It is my pleasure to answer them.

1. I assume that the lead time (production days) for a customized orders for a Handmade SFP item is basically changed to 1 day versus the number of production days set up for this item normally when not set up as a SFP item?

Yes, for this program the item must be shipped in order to get to the customer in 4 days, which reduces the production time of the item.

2. During the trial period, the ASIN number set up with the small and light shipping template does the item show up as a prime item such as in a Prime only search or with the word Prime next to the item’s thumbnail or is this only after a successful SFP Handmade trial period of 10 sales of SFP items?

The Prime badge will show after the trial period

Update from Bob: I was pre-approved for the Handmade SFP program so I did not have to go through the trial period of 10 sales of Handmade SFP items to qualify for the Prime badge to show. If you are a seller in the early beta program, you also may see your items show up with the Prime badge when you place some of your items with the Handmade SFP shipping template.

3. Do these SFP Handmade items get charged an extra FBA fee since they are Prime items or no FBA fee because they are seller fulfilled items?

No, the items will not get charge since they are not FBA. You are fulfilling the items yourself.

4. Do these SFP Handmade items have the C/S or returns handled like a FBA item since they are Prime items or are these function handled by the seller because they are seller fulfilled items?

For this program, we have the benefit of having the Amazon Customer service team to handle returns, refunds and general customer service issues.

5. Are the SFP items inactive when on Vacation mode?

Yes, the vacation mode inactivates your account and offers for the specific period of time you select.

6. With the order deadline period of 2:00 pm to count the current day, does that mean Seattle time or local time?

This is based on your current time zone.

7. Since I do not sell in quantity do I need to keep up any volume for SFP to keep this SFP program going for selected items or can it be taken away while volume is low?

We do not require an specific volume of sales or products to maintain the program. We created metrics that must be met so that you can continue with the program. The main metrics is on On-time Delivery rate, so you are not required to ship same-day.

8. For these Handmade SFP items even if they are made to order, must have the shipping label printed on the same day if the order was received before 2:00 pm? Or is it really based on if the customer receives the item within the window of 3 shipping days? I understand that I might get a warning if shipped late.

As Harrison explained to our team: " this program is based on arrival time, so sellers are not required to ship same-day. The faster they can ship, the more affordable it will be for them. Standard SFP would require them to ship same day (before cut-off time) and arrive within 2 business days. With this new program, you are given two extra business days when using 4 day Prime. Priority is not required and can purchase shipping through any of amazons 3rd party shipping integrator or by connecting your own fed-ex or UPS account."

Note: I was told by a Handmade customer service rep, that items that fall under the Handmade SFP, that shipping must be purchased directly from Amazon and not using 3rd party shipping companies even if these 3rd party shipping companies are connected to the Amazon's sellers account. I am not sure who is correct. The seller can still use 3rd party shipping companies for non seller fulfilled prime items.

9. If received after 2:00 pm, the label can be printed the following business day and then must be shipped that day?

Yes, it will be shipped next day.

10. I understand that the delivery date for Prime customers varies from 3 day or 4 business days depending if the order arrives before or after 2:00 pm with additional days allowed for non-prime members. Is this true?

Yes, this is true. Depending on the time the order is set, you will have 3-4 days for delivery. Also, you have additional days allowed for non-prime members

11. While all of my items are over $25.00, would non-Prime members still pay for shipping if SFP orders are under $25.00? Does the $25.00 minimum for Prime have any relationship with SFP orders?

Yes, the non-prime members will need to pay for the shipping for order under $25.00. If you are a prime member, you will be cover with the shipping.

I am happy my assistance was useful for you. Please feel free to share your feedback about our service and performance on the survey below. Your satisfaction is our success.

Have a nice Day!

Note: Amazon is currently working on or changing the Handmade SFP screens so you may see some modifications to the display screens shown in this article.

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Update 8/1/2019

Thumbmail image when Prime member for Handmade 3-4 day shipping template and customer is within one of the selected States.

Detailed item page when Prime member for Handmade 3-4 day shipping template and customer is within one of the selected States.

Thumbmail image when Prime member for Handmade 3-4 day shipping template and customer is not within one of the selected States.
You can see that the delivery date changed from August 7 to August 14 since customer is not having the item sent to one of the States listed under 3-4 day shipping.

Detailed item page when Prime member for Handmade 3-4 day shipping template and customer is not within one of the selected States.
You can see that the delivery date changed from Wedsday (August 7) to August 8 - 14 since customer is not having the item sent to one of the States listed under 3-4 day shipping.

 

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Update 3/7/2019

The Prime logo no longer shows on the thumbnails or order page for Prime members or non-Prime members for items using the SFP 3-4 day prime shipping template. Basically this program currently seems to still include these items using the SFP 3-4 day prime shipping template when the customers selects to look at Prime only items even if the Prime badge does not display. While this is still helpful, it is not as good as displaying the actual Prime logo. I believe Amazon does not want to display the Prime logo anymore unless it is 2 day shipping Prime as to not confuse the customers. I understand that Amazon would not want to use the Prime logo on SFP items that may fall under standard shipping such as 4 - 8 shipping days which could really mean shipping in 1.5 weeks after an order is made. I just felt that having an initial design that took these things in consideration before the programming started and offering the beta software to 3-P customers would of been a better approach.

I wish Amazon would come up with a new Prime logo with the words (2-day) under it for FBA order of Prime items or 2-day SFP items and then have the current Prime logo for the longer shipping time Prime items.

Much of the information in this article with exception to the screens showing the thumbnails and order pages is still current based on my understanding of this beta program. It is difficult to keep up with many of the changes Amazon is making on this program.

 

Update 2/1/19:

When an Amazon Prime customer, sees the Handmade items thumbnail that uses the SFP 3-4 day prime shipping template, they see the Prime logo on the thumbnail as shown below.

When an Amazon customer, who is a Prime customer or not a Prime customer selects to see only Prime items, those Prime items thumbnails using the SFP 3-4 day prime shipping template will all display for both Amazon Prime customers and Amazon customers that are not Prime customers. If the Amazon is not a Prime customer, the thumbnails will display without the Prime logo.

Note: This thumbnail displayed below may look different from what is currently displayed for SFP items but basically shows the Prime badge.

For non Prime customers, you will see the Handmade SFP thumbnail shown without the Prime logo as shown below. Currently if an Amazon customer selects to see only Prime items, these SFP Handmade items do display with the other thumbnails, but the thumbnails do not display with the Prime logo.

 

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The main item order page that uses a prime item with the SFP 3-4 day prime shipping template is shown below as it would be seen by a Prime member. In this situation, the order was made after the 2:00 pm cut-off time on Friday. The customer lives in Illinois which is set up for 4 day shipping. (Friday 2/1 no shipping day) (Saturday 2/2 no shipping day) (Sunday 2/3 no shipping day) (Monday 2/4 shipping day 1) (Tuesday 2/5 shipping day 2) (Wednesday 2/6 shipping day 3) (Thursday 2/7 shipping day 4) (Friday 2/8 delivery day).

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The main item order page shown below is what the order page will look like if the customer is not a Prime member for items that use the SFP 3-4 day prime shipping template. This is different as how this same item is seen by a Prime member shown above. In the situation below, the order was made at 3:40 pm which is after that days cut-off time on Friday. The customer lives in Arizona which is set up for 3 day shipping. In this case the order screen does not show the Prime badge or list the 4-8 day Standard shipping delivery date. It instead say free shipping.

In this specific situation, the customer lives in or can have it delivered to a State that has a 3 day delivery option if the customer pays an additional 99 cents. This seems like a good deal for the customer who is not a Prime member.

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The order checkout page for a Handmade SFP order for a Prime member shows a selection for a free 4 day business shipping option delivery date of Feb. 8 but also allows a free standard 4 - 8 day business shipping option for customers to select that are not in a hurry.

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For a Prime customer, this is a sample Handmade seller fulfilled item thumbnail with the Prime badging showing after an item search for this Handmade SFP item.

I am not sure if the screen shown below should say the delivery date for Prime members, but it did not do so for me at this time.

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Shown below is a sample of a Handmade seller fulfilled item detail screen including customization options displayed with the Prime badging brought up by a Prime member.

This item was brought up on 10/27/18 after 2:00 PM (Saturday evening) and the customer was a Prime customer who is from a State covered under 3 day shipping in the Handmade SFP shipping template.
So the Prime customer made an order for this Handmade SFP item on Saturday evening with the listing showing a delivery date of Friday. This means that if the order is shipped out on Tuesday, it has travel time of part of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with delivery to the customer on Friday.

Shown below, the line which states creation dates such as "Usually takes 1 days to create" should not display in my opinion to the customer when the item is displayed as a prime badged item. From my testing what is in the production days field (creation days on customer display) has no impact on the shipping date or delivery date for this example below except it may say "Usually takes 5 days to complete" versus "Usually takes 1 days to create". The software could simply say if this is a Handmade SFP item, then do not display the create line.

Shown below the hours listed in 'If you ordered within 15 hrs 26 min' really pointed to a 1:00 PM local time and not the 2:00 PM local order deadline. I am also currently on Seattle time this time of year in Arizona even though this order 2:00 PM deadline is based on local time. I believe this 'order before' should be based on 2:00 PM and not 1:00 PM but an earlier cut off date is always better.

I would think that for 3 day shipping, State ordered too was set to 3 day delivery, it should of said delivery by Thursday. Perhaps since it was ordered after the cut off on Saturday, it added a day but should it since weekends do not count as shipping days so it should not matter if the item was ordered before the Saturday cut off date or after the Saturday cut off date.

Update: 11/18/18 (Sunday) I tried again with an order at 1:55 pm on Saturday and it still said 'Free Delivery by Friday' and I think it should say by Thursday since it was ordered from a State listed as a 3 - day shipping State. An order received on Friday after cut-off or on Saturday or on Sunday should be the same as an order on Monday before the 2:00 pm cut-off. Monday (or earlier order date - Shipping day 1), Tuesday (shipping day 2), Wednesday (shipping day 3), Thursday delivery day).

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Update: 11/18/18. In the display below, this is a Prime member ordering on 11/18/18 (Sunday) after 2:00 pm cut-off on Handmade SFP item from a State listed as 4 day shipping. The delivery date is Monday (4 - day).

Monday (or earlier order date - Shipping day 1), Tuesday (shipping day 2), Wednesday (shipping day 3), Thursday (shipping day 4), Friday (delivery day). Note: That it states below the delivery on Monday and not Friday. Again my viewpoint is that anything ordered on a weekend is the same as a customer ordering on Monday before the cut-off date). So either I am wrong or the software is.

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Update 11/18/18 Below is a sample Handmade seller fulfilled item including customization options displayed without the Prime badging. I basically logged off my account so my Prime account would not apply.
The item was brought up on 11/18/18 after 2:00 PM. The customer is from a State covered under 3 day shipping in the Handmade SFP shipping template. Because the customer was not a Prime member, the customer does get free shipping probably because the item is over $25.00.

- The display does not display the 4 - 8 day delivery window stated in the Handmade SFP shipping template. I feel that the Standard shipping delivery date range should display for the customer.

- The Prime logo does not display for this Prime item. I feel that the Prime logo should also display for the customer since the Prime logo should display for all Prime items even if the customer is not a Prime member because as I said that this is still a prime item even if displayed for a non Prime member.


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The display below shows a Handmade SFP listing from a State that is not listed in the Handmade SFP shipping template as a 3 or 4 day delivery showing a standard shipping date range.

This image below shows a customer a standard delivery date range since the shipping does not fall under a 3 - 4 day delivery window. The customer ordering the item is not from a State listed under the Handmade shipping template as belonging to a State listed under a 3 or 4 day shipping window.

Note: The 'Usually takes 1 day to create' line probably should not show for Handmade SFP items. Standard shipping should list out delivery in 4 - 8 days unless the customer pays an extra optional .99 to have it shipped faster for States listed in the shipping template as 3 or 4 day shipping States.

When the Prime customer orders from a State not listed as 3-day to 4-day shipping on Saturday 10/27/18 4:00 PM, the description shown below changed to standard delivery times which should be 4 - 8 days. The listing stated 'FREE Delivery Friday, Nov. 2- Monday - Nov. 8' which is about 4 - 8 business days. I tested this out and this seems to work.


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As of 11/18/18, this is what I show on the screen shown below for a non-prime member. Basically it should display as the listing image above but shows as the listing image below.

- This does not display the standard 4 - 8 delivery date range which I would think it would.

- This display does not show the Prime badge as it does on the search thumbnail image that sent me to this page. This is a Prime item, so the Prime badge should display. Note: I did not have to go through a testing phase before my items showed with a Prime badge.

- The line "Usually takes 1 day to create" should not display in my opinion since Handmade SFP is about the delivery date to the customer and not the number of days it takes to create. A seller could have 6 in that field and the item could still need to arrive at the customer in 3 -4 shipping days. This can confuse the seller and customer and I feel the line should be suppressed for Handmade SFP items.

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Update 1/31/18: Amazon commented "Seller Fulfilled Prime sellers will have the Prime Badge replace by a “Free Delivery” message to customers when delivery times are longer than 2 days on items that ship by ground or have delays available.  Examples include items in: Small and Light (SnL), FBA Dangerous Goods, or Heavy/Bulky items.

The sellers who currently offer these products and are enrolled in FBA or SFP will see the Prime Badge replaced by a “Free Delivery” message for certain offers.  We cannot speculate about the impact on sales, but these offers will maintain Prime eligibility and display a “Free Delivery” message.

This change is implemented so that the Fast, reliable delivery is important to Prime members, and we are improving the customer experience by more clearly communicating our delivery promise.  When we improve the experience for customers, they are more likely to come back and shop from the millions of sellers in our store.

With respect to the display of the Prime badge on the detail pages or the main pages of your ASINs, please know that any ASIN assigned to a regional Prime template (not all regions in the Continental US would be Prime) would reveal the Prime badge on its detail  page, only when: 

The listing is viewed through a Prime buyer account
  • The Prime buyer account address is set from a Prime shipping region
  • Your offer should be winning the Buy Box on the ASIN detail page

    If all the above conditions hold true, then please be assured that the Prime badge would be displayed.  Therefore, I request you to view your listings from a Prime buyer account, and set it’s address from a Prime region as per the  template.  If the Prime badge is still not displaying on your ASIN, then please write back to us with the then screen shot, revealing the absence of Prime badge, along with the below mentioned details:

  • ASIN that you viewed for Prime badge
  • Prime Buying Account email address, through which you have viewed your ASIN
  • The address at which your account is set at
Note from Bob: Some of my later testing was done when I no longer paid to be a Prime member. The SFP screens vary if you are a Prime member from when you are not a Prime member.

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As shown below, if the customer is not a Prime member, the item will display as a thumbnail image with the Prime badging after an item search for this Handmade SFP item.

As of 10/30/18, it does show the Prime badge.

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This section shown below displays a Handmade SFP order in the Manage Orders screen. You can see that the item will be fulfilled by the Seller and also is a Prime item. This item was ordered on Saturday after the 2:00 pm cutoff and is being delivered to a State with 3 day shipping. Item ordered on Saturday, mailed on Monday and delivered by Thursday.

Note: I mailed off the SFP handmade item on Monday and Amazon would not let me send it first class even though I normally send out first class since the items was under 13 oz. I think the problem is that the Amazon software did not think First Class would arrive by Thursday even if it was just going to the next attached State. I feel that should be up to the seller on how to mail the package as it is the seller who can get in trouble if the item does not arrive in time. Amazon is basically saying they will override this personal shipping decision of the seller because they do not want it to arrive to the customer late. So now the package will be mailed Priority mail at twice the price as First Class. Amazon should just pop up the shipping option of the Priority mailing box selected as a default and give the seller the option to override to First Class mail if they wish to on an individual basis. I understand Amazon doing this for regular SFP 2-day shipping but not for Handmade SFP 3 or 4 day shipping for Prime badged items.

Note: I have heard that Amazon may block certain types of shipping options on weekends but be open to additional shipping options on Monday. This inconsistency could cause sellers to purchase more expensive faster shipping than needed. I would really need to get a lot more Handmade SFP orders to see any pattern myself.

 

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On the example below on the left is a section of the Manage Inventory screen and how a Handmade SFP item looks with the Handmade SFP shipping template attached. The name of your shipping template may be different to what you named it.

On the example below on the right is a section of the Manage Inventory screen when the Edit option is selected and the option to 'Change shipping template'.

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Handmade Merchant Fulfilled with Prime badging:

The new Handmade merchant fulfilled Prime is based on the existing small and light prime merchant fulfilled program.  My understanding that first they had the prime merchant fulfilled sellers program geared for more larger sellers, then they had the small and light prime merchant fulfilled program and now they have the Handmade merchant fulfilled Prime program.  Each program is different but basically allows a seller to ship from their local shipping location with the items badged as Prime items.  Basically your items in this program are Prime badged, little Prime logo next to your items and your items also show up in search if a customer selects the option to only be shown Prime items, without the need to ship items to FBA.

What is unique about the Handmade SFP merchant fulfilled is that the Handmade items can have customization options with a Prime badge.  Previously, to have a Handmade item with the Prime badge, you had to set up that Handmade item with no customization options as a FBA item and send it in to Amazon. 

The Handmade SFP merchant fulfilled program is similar to the Small and light SFP program, that much of what is written here may apply to both programs.

The Handmade SFP merchant fulfilled program is currently in beta / pilot and the sellers currently have to be invited in.

It may be for the SFP Handmade merchant fulfilled items, it is required to only list an item that has at least one customization option or with multiple customization options based on the line sent to me by Amazon “I would like to invite you to participate in an exclusive program to get your customized/personalized products Prime eligible”.  After talking to a Handmade c/s representative, he did not think the Handmade item had to include any customization options to be part of the Handmade SFP program.

The SFP Handmade merchant fulfilled program has 3-4 shipping delivery when the regular merchant fulfilled prime program has a 2 day shipping requirements. You may be able to use less expensive first class postage for some of the shipments if you can ship out the order the same day as the order was received. For orders with 3 - 4 day shipping delivery dates, I will probably be using Priority mail at the start until I can see for myself how long shipping takes to different States. For items with Standard 4 - 8 day delivery, I may use first class mail.

Even though Amazon does not always deliver its own Prime shipping on time, it does not mean that Amazon will not ding the 3rd party seller metrics if the seller delivery is late to the customer.

With these merchant fulfilled programs, Amazon can  reduce their warehouse space needs in the fulfillment centers saving Amazon money.

There is a specific customer service email for this program at prime-handmade-support@amazon.com.

You have the option to email sfp-performance@amazon.com if you had a shipping delivered on-time issue that is not the sellers fault such as customer did not get the package after numerous delivery attempts.

Since this SFP 3 - 4 day program using this new shipping template is new, Amazon customer service in general outside of the Handmade department may not be knowledgeable about this Handmade SFP program or get it confused with the other two SFP programs. When the seller is calling customer service, be specific that you are asking about the specific SFP program you are referencing.

This program offers many advantages with one being that on average items with a Prime badge sell more often. Many Amazon Prime members, which is about half or more than half of Amazon buyers, only or mostly only buy Prime items. Many non-Prime members also purchase by selecting to only look at Prime items.  It is like having Prime listings without the need to send your items into the warehouse; pay monthly or long term storage fees or pay an extra FBA fee. 

Another advantage is that Amazon handles customer service on these items as well as handles returns for the seller. Another advantage is that sellers may choose to place, or really replace, some items on Handmade SFP, that they previously may have sent in as FBA items, which could bring down some costs to the seller while still having the item Prime badge. The disadvantage of Amazon handling customer service on these Handmade SFP items is that Amazon may make choices on their own that may not be the same as the seller would on issues such as item not received (INR) claims, customer reimbursements or on returns for Handmade items or even returns for personalized Handmade items. Since this program is still in beta, I am not sure in the end, how Amazon will be handling certain types of customer service or return issues since it may change.

It is unknown to me if Amazon will give the seller preferred Prime items the internal priority listing ranking to show more to customers. The situation could be that the items just show up as Prime items which is beneficial in itself. While list ranking varies based on many variables such as past sales volume or ratings, I feel that everything else being equal regular FBA Prime items will show in a customer search with the highest priority, then seller fulfilled 2 day prime, then the small and light or Handmade seller preferred Prime items (3 day delivery or 4 day delivery) and finally the regular seller merchant fulfilled items. Items that are stored in warehouses near the customer could also have a higher search ranking.

The main disadvantage for Handmade SFP is that you must get the items out fast to make it to the seller in a certain amount of time.  If you get an order before 2:00 PM local time, you have to notice the order, create the product if not already made, pack the product and then deliver it to your shipper such as the post office by the last drop off time for that carrier which could be 3:00 PM or 5:00 PM depending on location.  You could mail out the item, the next day if needed but may need to purchase more expensive postage to arrive at the customer on-time.  The other seller preferred programs are dealing with ready made products and Handmade sellers are dealing with products that may need to be customized, personalized or made to order before shipping if the product is not already in stock. Amazon offers 3 -4 delivery for Handmade SFP instead of 2 day delivery for regular SFP due to that the Handmade items may not be already produced at the time of the order.

The sellers may want to get in the habit of checking if they received any orders Monday – Friday at about 2:00 pm daily to see if they need to get a Handmade SFP order out by that day’s last mail pickup.  Perhaps a seller can set a phone or computer to give some type of alarm or message.  It may be more important to notice orders that arrive before 2:00 PM on Monday or Tuesdays since for those orders it may need to ship out the same day since the 3 – 4 day shipping window will not fall on a weekend giving the seller extra time for the item to be received by the customer.  The weekend does not count as part of the 3 – 4 shipping days.

The seller must complete 10 SFP sales trial to qualify for the Handmade SFP program and have their item's display as Prime badged and display 3 - 4 shipping for select SFP States.
It is unclear if the 10 SFP trial orders only include items reaching the customer in 3 - 4 days or include orders with shipping arrival times of 4 - 8 days. Some of the sellers selected for this beta or pilot program may have already been pre-approved for the Handmade SFP program with their Handmade SFP items already showing a Prime badge. These sellers would not need to complete to 10 SFP sales to qualify.

The Seller Fulfilled Prime Small and Light program is very similar to the Handmade Seller Fulfilled Prime program. There are some small differences such as the Handmade Seller Fulfilled Prime program can sell items with prices over $15.00. Here is some recommended reading.
Amazon has information on the Seller Fulfilled Prime Small and Light program that I recommend reading at (Click here for more information).
Amazon also has FAQ information on the Seller Fulfilled Prime Small and Light program that I recommend reading at (Click here for more information).

Not to make things more confusing but their is another Amazon programs called Small and Light FBA which is for products in new condition that measure 16 x 9 x 4 inches or less, weigh 15 ounces or less, and are priced $15 or less qualify for Small and Light FBA. This is not to be confused with the Small and Light Seller Fulfilled Prime program which does not have any size or weight restrictions but must be priced $15.00 or less.

One nice thing from reading the forums with sellers who have previous experience with other SFP programs is that you can pick up some things that also apply to the Handmade SFP. One thing is that it is better to have your products scanned at the post office or other shipping carrier right away instead of leaving them in a bin in which you do not know if or when they will be scanned. The SFP programs keep track of if you shipped the item out on time, based on the original scan at the shipping carrier, as well as when the item is received by the customer.

Shipping:

With Handmade SFP, many times the seller has to have the package received by the customer in 3 to 4 days after the order is sent in. Sending our items USPS Priority mail is most likely to make it to the customer, but not guaranteed, in 3 days after shipped.  If you only are shipping to closer States for 3 to 4 day delivery you can probably ship regular first class mail if you ship early enough after the order is received.  You can use Priority mail for shipping to farther away States, when your package is 16 or more ounces or when you are shipping later and hope Priority mail may arrive a day earlier than first class mail.  I suspect that many sellers will send out every shipment Priority mail if they use the USPS even if many will arrive on time with first class mail.  I have built a Priority mail price into my SFP prices, so I can send my items out Priority mail.  I will get my Priority mail shipping costs back most the time and loose a little if my items are shipped across the country since Priority shipping costs is based on distance and difficult to predict exactly ahead of the order.

I have heard that the Amazon system will allow you to use first class mail, which is less expensive, for a certain time period depending on the customer delivery date. Then after some time, may not offer first class mail and the seller may have to purchase priority mail or another more expensive shipping service which Amazon feels would have the package arrive faster and on-time. I have not run across this so do not know if this is true. Since you have to use Amazon's shipping for most all your SFP orders, the sellers really do not have a choice.

I have heard, that for some orders, if you try to purchase Amazon shipping late at night or on the weekend, sometimes certain shipping methods will not display. If you wait until the next morning to purchase shipping, additional shipping choices may appear which may be less expensive. From what I have read, Amazon does not consider this a bug, so I do not think it will get corrected. I have heard this is a problem of Sunday orders and you may want to try to see if any additional less expensive shipping options are available to the seller on Monday morning.

I have heard some sellers, offer 4-day shipping nationwide all week, and 3-day shipping from Tuesday after the cut-off time through the end of your shipping day on Saturday or Friday, if you don’t ship on Saturdays.

Since Amazon handles customer service for Handmade SFP items, you could be in a position in which Amazon just rebates a customer in full if the customer claims the the item was not delivered. This would be true even if the items shows delivered by tracking.

In the situation in which a major weather event is happening such as major rain or floods, hurricanes or snow in selected States, you may want to adjust how you ship during those times. This could mean turning off your Handmade SFP shipping for selective States during those times for effected States and then making those States available again when the weather event is over.

An issue with Priority mail is that it is not guaranteed to arrive in 2-3 days and is not necessarily faster than first class mail.  Priority mail just has a higher priority over first class mail during busy times. First class mail is supposed to arrive in 1 to 3 days but not guaranteed. Priority Mail Express is the fastest mail service offered by the Postal Service and it provides guaranteed 1-Day or 2-Day expedited service. Just a note that if your priority mail express package does not arrive in time, you can request a refund on your postage.

If the order is received before 2:00 pm local time the seller mostly needs to ship the item out in that day’s mail to the post office or other carrier by the last pick up time. The item has to be received by the customer in 3 shipping days. This can get inefficient if you need to mail only one item.  Just a note that you really do not need to have an order received before 2:00 PM shipped out the same day, it is just that you need the item to be delivered to the customer by a certain date.  This could put the seller in the position of needing more expensive faster shipping if you do not ship on the same date. There is nothing wrong to occasionally have to pay for 1 or 2 day guaranteed delivery to get an item to the customer on-time, but the seller should not do this as a habit or the shipping costs would lead to losses.

The seller can also pay for much faster and guaranteed shipping if needed if they have to ship the item out later but still want the item to be received by the customer in time.

Non-prime members will get free shipping with 4 – 8 day delivery.  Prime members outside of Prime set State regions will get free shipping with 4 – 8 day delivery.  Non-prime members can pay to upgrade shipping for 99 cents if the customer has the item delivered within one of the 3 or 4 day selected shipping regions. Basically Amazon is saying that if a non-prime member pays 99 cents extra for shipping, the seller needs treat the shipping as if the non-prime member was a Prime member if the delivery of the item is in one of the listed 3 or 4 day States or regions. A customer will not be able to pay 99 cents and get the shipping changed from 4 days to 3 days.

Any non-prime member gets free 4-8 days shipping.

Any prime members that is out of your set regions such as States selected gets free 4-8 day shipping.

Any non-prime members could pay to upgrade for .99 to four-day shipping if the package is being delivered in your four-day shipping region.

Any non-prime members could pay to upgrade for .99 to three-day shipping if the package is being delivered in your three-day shipping region.

To set up your SFP shipping template, go to Settings > Shipping Settings > Create New and then Choose from the option and select the proper shipping template.  You will need to find the special shipping template set up for this program and then modify it.  The SFP Handmade shipping template option may be called ‘small and light’ and it may not show up in your selection for a few days for you to find it.  You can save this shipping template under a different name such as Handmade SFP.  When you add a new or have an existing merchant fulfilled Handmade item, you would then assign this Handmade SFP shipping template to the item turning this item from a regular Handmade merchant fulfilled item to a Handmade SFP merchant fulfilled item.

The seller can set up your SFP shipping to offer Prime in only selected States or regions.  If a Prime member is within those States or regions and orders a SFP Handmade item then shipping will be 3 or 4 days.  If the Prime customer is outside the SFP shipping template State or region, then they will be offered free 4 – 8 day shipping for SFP items.  If the customer is not a Prime customer, then they will be offered free 4 – 8 day shipping for SFP items.

With Handmade SFP items, under the 3 - 4 day SFP shipping template, their is no way for a customer to request and pay for expedited 1 or 2 day U.S. shipping during the order process for Handmade items, which is good in my opinion.  The fastest shipping available will still be the 3 – 4 days. The original SFP program has this expedited shipping option which could be considered an advantage.

The seller has the option to purchase shipping through any of amazons 3rd party shipping integrator or by connecting your own fed-ex or UPS account. I recommend reading about this at (Click here for more information).

I have heard that Amazon give an item a higher search ranking if it feels that item can get to the customer faster. A Handmade item with production time of 9, may get selected less than a Handmade item with a production time of 2. I have heard that the same is true for shipping times. If you have Handmade SFP items with more States or regions set up for 3 day shipping, those items may have a higher ranking in customer search than if you have the same items set up for 4 day shipping. It is always a balance of selecting faster shipping to more States with the idea that the seller needs to get the item to the customer on-time or it will effect the sellers performance numbers.

My understanding is that if a non Prime customer orders one or more of the Handmade SFP items, the non-prime member will need to pay for the shipping for an order of prime items when the combined item's amount is under $25.00. If you incorporate extra shipping costs into your Handmade SFP items, then the non prime members with orders under $25.00 will actually be paying for shipping twice.

If when purchasing shipping from Amazon, you may find a shipping option missing. This could because Amazon thinks this type of package or shipping option will not arrive in the 3 or 4 day delivery times. This could be a specific post office package or forcing the purchase of Priority mail instead of offering a First Class option.

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Since I am increasing my price for my Handmade SFP items to include Priority mail shipping costs, this may deter some customers from purchasing the item with a higher price.  Prime members are used to not paying for shipping and even though the shipping is free for Prime members, I have shipping cost added to the Handmade SFP Prime items.  The same is true for Prime member’s purchases outside of the SFP shipping template States or regions or non-prime members who are paying a higher item price but not getting the benefit of 3-4 day shipping. If I feel that many of my Handmade SFP Prime items can be sent by 1st class mail, I may lower the shipping amount that I have currently built into my Handmade SFP Prime items.

While I have stated that I have added my Priority mail shipping costs into my Handmade SFP item cost, the extra shipping cost added is just an average guess. The true cost of Priority mail is dependent on how far the item will be sent to reach the customer and the seller does not know if the item will be sent to the next State or across the entire country until the order time. Also many of the Handmade SFP sales will be sent as Standard 4 - 8 business day shipping, even if they are Prime badged items, which does not really have to be sent with Priority mail and would arrive many times with less expensive regular first class mail. If on average you undercharge on your included in the item price Priority mail, you also save on shipping cost when you need to mail out these Prime items with first class mail. My end goal is to not make a profit on my shipping costs but also not loose to much on shipping costs due to Amazon charging a 15% referral fee on shipping also for these Handmade SFP shipping costs built into the item price.

Amazon requires the item price on Amazon plus shipping to be the same or lower than the same item plus shipping on other on-line sites. If the seller is adding extra shipping costs into the Handmade SFP item prices, you may have to adjust your same item prices on your other on-line selling sites.

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What I am writing here is about Handmade SFP 3 or 4 days shipping and not about standard 2-day SFP shipping.

Handmade production time listed for the item is not relevant so pretend it is zero even though it is higher in your listing. That does not mean you do not have time to create the item before you send it out. As others have said, it is the customer delivery date that needs to be met to meet your current metric requirements.

For the Handmade SFP Prime item order, you may have 3 business shipping days or 4 business shipping days or even 4-8 business shipping days depending on the situation. The delivery date can change if ordered on a weekend or a time of day before or after the cut off date.

If the customer is not a Prime customer and orders a Handmade SFP Prime item with free Standard shipping, the seller may have 4 - 8 days business shipping days for that item to reach the customer. Not every Handmade SFP order dealing with a Prime item needs to arrive in 3 or 4 business shipping days.

If the customer is a Prime customer and orders a Handmade SFP Prime item and that customer is having the item shipped to a State or region listed under your Handmade SFP 3 or 4 day shipping template, the seller has 3 or 4 business shipping days to get that item to be delivered to the customer.

If the customer is a Prime customer and orders a Handmade SFP Prime item and that customer is having the item shipped to a State or region not listed under your 3 or 4 day Handmade SFP shipping template, the customer will receive free Standard shipping which would be 4 - 8 business shipping days for that item to reach the customer.

I believe if a non Prime customer orders a Handmade SFP item and has that item delivered to one of the sellers 3 or 4 day States or regions listed under the Handmade SFP shipping template, the non Prime customer can pay an extra .99 to get faster shipping.

Note: Just because I state a specific date as a shipping date, that does not mean you need to ship on that date. You could use the first or second shipping date as item creation time. You just have to use a shipping platform that can deliver the item to the customer on time and the longer the seller waits to ship the item may result in more expensive faster shipping for the seller. Also if the item has a shipping delivery of 4 - 8 business days, that means that the seller would have multiple days before they would need to ship out the item and perhaps still use First Class mail.

(3 day delivery) Customer orders Monday morning before the cut-off time. Monday (shipping day 1 ), Tuesday (shipping day 2), Wednesday (shipping day 3), Thursday delivery day.

(3 day delivery) Customer orders Monday afternoon after the cut-off time. Tuesday (shipping day 1 but can ship out early on Monday), Wednesday (shipping day 2), Thursday (shipping day 3), Friday delivery day.

(4 day delivery) Customer orders Tuesday morning before the cut-off time. Tuesday (shipping day 1), Wednesday (shipping day 2), Thursday (shipping day 3), Friday (shipping day 4), Saturday (not counted as a delivery day but may be delivered but not due to be delivered until Monday), Sunday (not a delivery day), Monday (delivery day).

(4 day delivery) Customer orders Tuesday afternoon after the cut-off time. Tuesday (can mail early today), Wednesday (shipping day 1), Thursday (shipping day 2), Friday (shipping day 3), Saturday (not counted as a delivery day), Sunday (not a delivery day), Monday (shipping day 4), Tuesday (delivery day).

(4 - 8 day delivery) Customer orders Tuesday afternoon after the cut-off time. Wednesday (shipping day 1), Thursday (shipping day 2), Friday (shipping day 3), Saturday (not counted as a delivery day), Sunday (not a delivery day), Monday (shipping day 4), Tuesday (shipping day 5), Wednesday (shipping day 6), Thursday (shipping day 7), Friday (shipping day 8), Monday (delivery day). Of course the seller can usually get the item to the customer earlier if the seller wants.

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Changing shipping templates to take advantage of extra shipping days on weekends:

Another thing is some sellers have two SFP shipping profiles that they use for different days to take advantage of the extra weekends that do not count as one of the shipping days. While I have not tried this yet, this is how I think it will work. Even though you could switch shipping templates to allow an item to arrive on-time by Monday, that does not mean that the seller should not ship out the item earlier so that it can be delivered to the customer on Friday or Saturday. This method just gives the seller a little extra time to ship out the order or be received by the customer on-time.

While this is more important or critical for 2 day SFP shipping, it can also have an effect on Handmade SFP orders received Monday morning before the cut off time or Monday afternoon after the cut off time and perhaps the previous Sunday afternoon or evening.

In the example given at the top of this article a Handmade SFP item was purchased by a Prime customer on 10/22/18 after 2:00 PM (Monday evening) and the customer was a Prime customer who is from a State covered under 3 day shipping in the Handmade SFP shipping template. During the purchase it shows a delivery date of Friday. This means that if the order received on Monday is shipped out on Tuesday, it has travel time of part of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with delivery to the customer on Friday. I am guessing on how I may set this up, but basically I would have one template from Sunday after 2:00 PM and then replace it with another shipping template on Tuesday morning. This gives me a farther range to ship utilizing the extra weekend days, while still shipping in a 3 or 4 day time frame.

Basically the first two templates never changed. On Sunday after 2:00 PM, you copy the first template "Handmade SFP shipping - Sunday - Tues" to be called "Handmade SFP shipping" and over wright the previous version of "Handmade SFP shipping". This shipping template gets used from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning. On Tuesday morning you copy the second template "Handmade SFP shipping - Tues - Sunday" to be called "Handmade SFP shipping" and over wright the previous version of "Handmade SFP shipping". While you will offer less States or regions for 3 or 4 day shipping from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning, you will end up with more time for the package to reach the customer since orders received Tuesday afternoon - Friday will have added weekend days added to shipping time which should reduce orders being delivered late.

"Handmade SFP shipping - Sunday - Tues" will be a shipping template holding only States or regions close to the sellers shipping location. (less 3 day shipping States because some of the 3 day shipping States will be moved to 4 day shipping)

"Handmade SFP shipping - Tues - Sunday" will be a shipping template holding additional States or regions farther away from the sellers shipping location. (Some of the 4 day shipping States will be moved to the 3 day shipping States giving more 3 day shipping States)

"Handmade SFP shipping" is the name of the shipping template that is attached to the individual Handmade SFP items.

Shipping Times:

For the USPS shipper, you can look up a map that shows delivery times for Priority shipping that I found useful from your specific mailing location.  You need to change the last part of this web address from “852” as shown in this example to the first three numbers of your zip code.   You can probably find maps like this for the carrier you prefer such as UPS or Fed Ex so you can determine when you need to mail out your package for your customers location for the package to arrive to the customer in-time.

https://ribbs.usps.gov/prioritymail/map/printable_maps/map_print.html?zoomlevel=45254955.38108559&ZIP=852

 

For the UPS shipper you can look up a map that shows delivery times for ground shipping times that I found useful from your specific mailing location.
You need to change the zip code with the 'Edit Location' option.

https://www.ups.com/maps?zip=85022&stype=O

 

(3 day shipping)

I have heard that sellers are concerned so much about getting the Handmade SFP orders out on time to arrive at the customer on time, that they choose not to participate in the beta / trial program. It is my initial viewpoint that many of these Handmade SFP items may be purchased by non Prime members and you would have 4 - 8 days for them to arrive to the customer. My understanding is that these non Prime customers can pay .99 to get the items faster but I feel most will just use the normal free standard shipping. My understanding is that the .99 faster delivery option is only available if the customer's shipping address falls within one of the 3 or 4 day States or regions.

Due to official US holidays, Amazon may add extra days between the order date and the customer ship by and arrival date.
If the customer is a a non-prime buyer, the delivery window will be 4-8 (business) days if shipping is not upgraded, when available, and will not relate to these 3 or 4 day charts.
If the customer is prime buyer and the item is not being shipped to one of the States within the selected 3 - 4 States or regions, the shipping times will not relate to these 3 or 4 day charts.

Order comes in from a Prime member ordering from a State or region that the shipping profile is set to 3 days:

Priority mail is not guaranteed to arrive in 2 - 3 days across the United States but should arrive on-time for shipments to your closer States. Obviously if your SFP items do not arrive on time, which would hurt your on-time delivery metrics, the seller may have to consider shipping a more expensive guaranteed delivery time shipping method until the sellers on-time delivery metrics are back at 100%. Another option is to change some 3 day shipping States to 4 day shipping States.

The last shipping date is based on the seller dropping off the package before the last carrier's cut off time for that day.
Basically if your order comes in from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, you need to mail out the package by Tuesday but best to mail out a day earlier by Monday.
If the State you are shipping to is very close to you, you may be able to mail out regular first class mail.

Order day Arrives before cut off date 2:00 pm Arrives after cut off date 2:00 pm Best if mailed by Last shipment date with priority mail Customer required arrival date
Sunday X   Sunday or Monday Tuesday Thursday
Sunday   X Sunday or Monday Tuesday Thursday
Monday X   Monday Tuesday Thursday
Monday   X Monday or Tuesday Wednesday Friday
Tuesday X   Tuesday Wednesday Friday
Tuesday   X Tuesday or Wednesday Thursday Monday
Wednesday X   Wednesday Thursday Monday
Wednesday   X Wednesday or Thursday Friday Tuesday
Thursday X   Thursday Friday Tuesday
Thursday   X Friday or Saturday Monday Wednesday
Friday X   Friday or Saturday Monday Wednesday
Friday   X Saturday or Monday Tuesday Thursday
Saturday X   Saturday or Monday Tuesday Thursday
Saturday   X Saturday or Monday Tuesday Thursday


(4 day shipping)

Order comes in from a Prime member ordering from a State or region that the shipping profile is set to 4 days:

Priority mail is not guaranteed to arrive in 2 - 3 days across the United States but should arrive on-time for most shipments set to deliver with the 4 day shipping days delivery window.
The last shipping date is based on the seller dropping off the package before the last carrier's cut off time for that day.
Basically if your order comes in from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, you need to mail out the package by Wednesday but best to mail out a day earlier by Tuesday.
If the State you are shipping to is close to you, you may be able to mail out regular first class mail.

Order day Arrives before cut off date 2:00 pm Arrives after cut off date 2:00 pm Best if mailed by Last shipment date with priority mail Customer required arrival date
Sunday X   Sunday or Monday Tuesday Friday
Sunday   X Sunday or Monday Tuesday Friday
Monday X   Monday Tuesday Friday
Monday   X Monday or Tuesday Wednesday Monday
Tuesday X   Tuesday Wednesday Monday
Tuesday   X Tuesday or Wednesday Thursday Tuesday
Wednesday X   Wednesday Thursday Tuesday
Wednesday   X Wednesday or Thursday Friday Wednesday
Thursday X   Thursday Friday Wednesday
Thursday   X Friday - Saturday Monday Thursday
Friday X   Friday - Saturday Monday Thursday
Friday   X Saturday - Monday Tuesday Friday
Saturday X   Saturday - Monday Tuesday Friday
Saturday   X Saturday - Monday Tuesday Friday

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Control Prime order volume screen:

Initially, the Amazon system limits the number of Handmade SFP items you can sell each day in which I have mine set to 4 items a day as I have shown below.  If you find that your SFP item sales are limited, you may be able to adjust this limit to sell more SFP items per day at https://sellercentral.amazon.com/sbr#edit_prime_order_volume.

Also this same screen shown below can be used to temporarily shut down your Handmade seller fulfilled Prime items until you turn it back on again.

I have a note in my calendar to turn off my Handmade SFP items around December 12 – December 15 and then I will turn them back on after Christmas.

Note: When I turned this setting Disable Prime on in Late January, the next day I received an order for one of my items that had the 3-4 shipping template. So I do not think that this Enable/Disable Prime switch shuts down your Prime listings. I did notice that the order received was for Standard shipping and I do not think that the Prime logo was on this item at that time but the thumbnail Prime logo did show up when I enabled the switch back to enable. I believe this switch also turns off the Prime badge for Prime members also. I thought this switch would turn off my items that had a 3-4 shipping template from showing to the customer but maybe it does not and only takes away faster Prime shipping and places the order in slower standard shipping. I am not sure if vacation mode turns off these Handmade SFP items but perhaps it does. I may just turn off my SFP items manually if I need to turn them off such as in a vacation.

 

 

Manage Seller Fulfilled Prime screen:

The screen shown below displays the Handmade seller fulfilled prime information and can be reached from menu Inventory / Manage seller fulfilled prime

I have heard that this screen shows sales for the Handmade seller fulfilled prime orders that get shipped out in the 3 - 4 day range and not those same SFP items that get shipped out under the standard shipping settings such as 4 - 8 days.



Seller Fulfilled Prime Program Eligibilty screen:

Shown below is the screen that display how well your Handmade seller fulfilled Prime items are shipped or delivered on-time. It also tracks what looks like the percentage you ship using Amazon shipping. I suggest that this screen be reviewed often since on-time delivery is important to keep yourself in the SFP program. I have heard that you may get an email stating that you are under the required customer arrival guidelines but it may not always to accurate. For the seller fulfilled programs, it is important to have your items arrive on time more than if you shipped the item to the customer on time. The seller can always ship later with faster and more expensive shipping since it is more about customer arrival time.

This screen can be reached by menu Inventory / Manage seller preferred prime / View SFP performance. See the 'View SFP performance' option on previous screen above.


 

Shipping Strategy Ideas for Christmas or special selling times:

The seller may not be sure if 1st class will arrive on time and if the seller has lower volume sales, they might run into a problem when 1 or 2 late arrivals can cause a problem. If the seller does use 1st class mail for lighter, under 16 OZ items, the seller may have to just have the Handmade SFP shipping template set up with Prime only with States that are close by to the seller's sending State. The seller can then see if their items are arriving on time. If they are not, the seller could then switch to sending Handmade SFP items only Priority mail. If the seller has to send guaranteed 2 day shipping often, due to longer than expected item production times or just is running late, then it will not be worth it to me due to shipping costs.

Since most of my items that I may offer Handmade SFP will sell for $40 - $89, I may choose to send out all items with Priority 2-3 day mail and adjust my prices to include this extra priority shipping cost in the price. This will allow me to open my items up to sell Handmade SFP to farther States. The problem with Priority mail is that it is not guaranteed to arrive in 2-3 days either, it just has a higher priority over first class mail during busy times. 

During busy holiday buying or special events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you may want to ship out as soon as possible and perhaps even ship the item out a faster method such as instead of shipping first class, ship the item Priority mail. This could make up for the erratic shipping times or delays the shipping carriers may have during these busy times to better have the item arrive to the customer by the delivery date. If you feel you can mail the item out tomorrow but can mail it out today, you may be better off to mail out the item today.

A week or two before Christmas, I will probably ship out every purchase using Priority mail even if I feel it will arrive in time using First Class mail.
A week or two before Christmas, I will probably reduce the number of States or regions, in my Handmade SFP shipping template, that I have set up for 3 or 4 shipping, to only close States from were I ship from.

Due to some Amazon Handmade SFP software issues and other Handmade sellers saying they are having shipping issues, I decided to on 12/5/18 to take all my States set up for three day shipping and add them to States I had set up for four day shipping except for my home State. I figure that those items will still have the Prime badge and if the Amazon system states one day earlier that they might not arrive by Christmas, then I am okay with that to have an extra day of shipping. On 12/16/18, I took all my 4 day shipping States and just deleted them from my 3-4 day SFP shipping template. I basically just left my home State on 3 day shipping. I will probably just turn off SFP on 12/18/18. I will just turn on with 3 or 4 day shipping on 12/26/18 as I had it originally. One thing the seller can do is just copy the 3 - 4 day SFP template from early December under another name to store the information. After Christmas you will have a reference from this stored template on how you set it up before.

It is better to lose some sales due to longer delivery times being shown to the customer near the holidays than to have items arrive late due to the post office falling behind on their deliveries since 1st class mail and priority mail has no guaranteed delivery date. I have already placed a note in my calendar on Dec 17 to modify my SFP shipping template to only include more closer States or regions.

After Christmas and when the post office is back delivering on-time I would change my Handmade SFP shipping template back to the way it was before. I have already placed a note in my calendar on Dec 26 to remind me.

This program will be beneficial during Christmas time when the items will be available to be sold closer to Christmas when the regular non FBA items with longer Handmade production times are cut off by Amazon early during a critical selling period. This will also allow more items to be place on Prime without the need to pay FBA monthly storage fees and FBA long term storage fees. I can see the downside of needing to get customized,  personalized or made to order items shipped out much quicker such as same day or next day to have the item arrive in time to the customer with regular first class shipping or Priority 2-3 day mail within your selected Handmade SFP shipping States.

Near Christmas, even Priority mail may take four to seven days to arrive and that could hurt your on-time Handmade SFP shipping time metric requirements.  It is difficult to know the best shipping strategy other than your goal is to always get your item to the customer within the expected arrival date.  I have a note in my calendar to turn off my Handmade SFP items around December 12 – December 15 and then I will turn them back on after Christmas.  I may just change the inventory quantity to zero or change the shipping profile for those items off of SFP.  The seller always has the option of paying more for shipping and give the customer 1 or 2 day guaranteed shipping if they want during the Christmas rush.

The Handmade SFP program is new and still in beta / pilot as of October 2018, so no direct experience from those who have done it before and the strategy in shipping time such as in the regular SFP delivery in 2 days is different from delivering in 3 or 4 days.


General Information:

You must purchase 95% of your shipping through Amazon so Amazon can better track your order.  If you use another third party shipper, you may be able to get that same discount using Amazons shipping by linking your carrier accounts to Seller Central.

For my Handmade SFP items, I have my production time set to 1 day since you can not enter zero in this field. I do not think the production time has an effect on the Handmade SFP item customer delivery date. I have asked Amazon to remove, not show, the production days on the Handmade SFP item detail page since is just confusing.

The seller can set up your Handmade SFP shipping profile to ship your 3 -4 day Prime shipping only to certain States or areas of the country that are closer to your State.  The initial main goal is to get the items to the customer on-time.  The seller has the option to set up their Handmade SFP shipping profile in which most of the country will get the Standard 4 - 8 delivery window and a smaller part of the country will get a delivery window of 3 or 4 days. Many sellers would be okay with only doing 3 - 4 day delivery in States close to the shipping location.

Amazon is handling Handmade SFP item’s customer returns.  Returns will most likely be auto-authorized and the customer will receive a pre-paid return shipping label paid for by the seller.  Amazon may offer refunds on your behalf.  I guess that Amazon wants all Prime items handled in a similar way even if the items are not FBA items. The sellers will have to see how Amazon handles returns for customized or personalized items.

How are SFP Handmade items being handled for returns?  Currently for personalized merchant fulfilled handmade items, the seller had the option to authorize or not authorize personalized handmade items to be returned.  Now Amazon is handling returns for these Handmade SFP items and I am not sure if this was covered with those making return decisions or if just all Handmade SFP items can be returned no matter what the item is.  I talked to a Amazon Handmade c/s representative on this and they are aware of this issue and working on it. I feel that sometimes, Amazon may reimburse the customer and tell them that they do not have to return the item. This could be a problem with some sellers and I am not sure at this time what procedure the seller can do about getting some type of reimbursement from Amazon or is this just a price to pay once in a while dealing with SFP Handmade returns.

I have heard that for SFP Handmade items Amazon does not cover lost items or items not received (INR) claims even if you purchase your shipping thru Amazon. SFP INR claims will be protected only with signature confirmation.

When an FBA item is out of stock and the seller has in-bound FBA shipments the seller had the option to switch the FBA item to FBM while waiting for the in-bound shipment to arrive.  While I have not done this yet, the seller might be able to switch the FBA item to FBM and then set the FBM item with the new Handmade SFP shipping template, making the item Prime again.  Then switch the FBM item back to FBA when the stock reaches the warehouse. 

Someone on the forums referred to this Handmade SFP program as “Prime light”, which I thought was cute, because for Prime members it was free shipping but not 2-day shipping.  I think that some Amazon customers, when ordering Handmade SFP Prime items, may not look at the delivery date and notice the delivery times is based on 3-4 day shipping and not 2-day shipping.  For many of the orders the delivery could also be the Standard 4 - 8 delivery. This could lead to customers complaining to Amazon about late shipping or lead to bad product reviews or shop feedback.  I hope that the Amazon customer service reps, who handle SFP customer service, returns and refunds, will inform the customers that some Prime items have 2-day shipping and other Prime items have 3-4 day or even 4 - 8 days shipping arrival times to customers.

You can select which Handmade items you set up for Handmade SFP program, by only assigning the Handmade SFP shipping template to those items.

Since the seller can choose which items they want to include in Handmade SFP, some items may be better suited to select from.  Since you probably will have to pay for shipping to and from the customer if the item gets returned, some items may not work as well as others such as heavier or larger items with larger shipping costs.  Also smaller or lighter items that have high shipping cost relating the small item price or item profit may also not be the best candidates if you have other items to choose from.  Personalized items that are returned that you cannot resell may have additional costs if your return rate is high.  For items that the customer generally purchases in multiples, will pay higher shipping cost if the shipping cost is built into the item price.  You may choose to offer items that frequently get purchase in quantity as a separate listing such as four candles included as one item. Sellers will need to find out what works best for them. Including the shipping price or partial shipping price in the item price can also have its issues since the higher item price may reduce the quantity of the items purchased by the customer.  While most items should work for these Handmade SFP items, you should be aware that some items may make better choices.

It was brought up on the forums that Market side sellers may be upset that the Handmade sellers have this new Handmade SFP to have Prime badging and slower and less expensive 3 - 4 days shipping versus the regular SFP program which has the Prime badging and much more expensive 2 day shipping. I do not think that sellers on the Market side (not handmade sellers) will care if the Handmade sellers can sell their SFP handmade items with 3-4 day shipping options. The reason being that the Handmade sellers do not in general sell the exact same items as the market side sellers do so they do not compete in price for the same items. Additionally, Handmade items do not have any buy box that the market side sellers need to compete with.

If a Handmade seller places one of their items on the Marketside, it would no longer be eligible for the Handmade SFP program. If a Handmade seller places the Handmade SFP shipping template on an item they place on the marketside, the seller could get in trouble.

The new Handmade SFP program will probably come out of beta / pilot mode in early 2019 and be available to additional Handmade sellers. Their are probably many beta / pilot programs in the works at Amazon and you never know if they decide to go forward or discontinue the programs. This program will have an advantage to reaching Prime customers without needing to join the more expensive 2 day shipping SFP program or the need to send as many of their items into FBA. Handmade sellers will need to determine for themselves if this program Handmade SFP program is one that may work for their business.

I am wondering if this Handmade SFP program, which is very close to the existing small and light SFP program, eventually gets opened up to all the Handmade sellers if Amazon may just eventually open up 3 -4 day SFP shipping to all Amazon sellers? The reason being that Amazon will have less to carry in it's warehouses saving the cost of not building as many of them and leave more room having inventory space to carry more of their own Amazon products.

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Shipping Templates:

To set up your SFP shipping template, go to Settings > Shipping Settings > Create New and then Choose from the option and select the proper shipping template. You will need to find the special shipping template set up for this program and then modify it. The SFP Handmade shipping template option may be called 'small and light' and it may not show up in your selection for a few days for you to find it. You can save this shipping template under a different name such as Handmade SFP. When you add a new merchant fulfilled Handmade item, you would then assign this SFP shipping template name to the item turning this item from a regular Handmade merchant fulfilled item to a SFP Handmade merchant fulfilled item. Examples of the Handmade seller preferred shipping templates are shown below.

When I first received the 3 - 4 day SFP shipping template called "small and light shipping" from Amazon, shown below, I renamed the shipping template to 'Handmade SFP shipping' and then I modified the shipping template for my business purposes.  The shipping template called 'Handmade SFP shipping' will be used for my Handmade SFP items. You could create multiple templates if you needed a different template for certain Handmade SFP item.

How each seller fills out this shipping template will vary depending on their location and based on if the seller feels that they could ship out the item to arrive to the customer by the arrival date.

Below is the Handmade SPF Four-Day delivery shipping screen.

For this four-day delivery shipping screen, I select all the States that I want to offer Prime shipping in the entire United States (both for 3 day delivery and 4 day delivery) and press the Next button which takes you to the Three-Day delivery selection shipping screen. For this example I have selected 16 States but only five of them will end up being on the four-day shipping State listing with the remaining 11 States being under the three-day shipping.

At a later time, when I have more SPF shipping delivery time experience, I will add more States to my four-day shipping so my SFP items will show up as Prime items in additional States. I feel that the more Prime listing you have in more States, the greater chance that Amazon may show a customer your item after a search.

Amazon has a good short video I recommend viewing on selecting the regional States in this next screen for Seller Fulfilled Prime: (Click here for more information).

 

The seller can also select a section of a State to be available for Prime shipping by clicking on the down arrow to the right of each State name shown below. In this example a seller can choose just part of the State of New York to ship to.

 

On the three-day delivery shipping screen shown below, initially all the States that I selected for my four-shipping will display. I then remove some States by un-checking some of the boxes leaving only States that I can ship to in three days and press the Next button. In this example I unchecked the States Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. So basically, I offer three-day shipping delivery to 11 States and four-day shipping delivery to 5 States. The rest of the States will basically get free 4 - 8 day shipping.

Show below is a screen displays that shows the seller the different States selected for both four-day and three-day delivery.

The seller can select the Confirm button to make the changes.

After this page you have another page in which you need to press the 'Save' button save the new shipping changes.

 

Below, broken down in two parts, are sections of my completed new Handmade SFP shipping template with the Standard shipping and the States I have selected for Four-day delivery and Three-day delivery.

The Edit Prime Regions button below is how you can edit which States you want included for Prime items for the three or four day shipping.

This SFP shipping template has column titles listed under Standard shipping as ‘Transit Time excluding handling time’.  I believe that this means for Handmade sellers that both the Item's production time along with packaging time to prepare the item for shipping is not part of the shipping day’s requirements. For standard shipping, the seller's ship date may include the items handling time.

This template has column titles listed under Four-day Delivery and Three-day Delivery as ‘Delivery Time including handling time’.  I  believe that this means for Handmade sellers that both the Items production time along with packaging time to prepare the item for shipping is included within the Delivery Time requirements.

The time the seller is allowed to get the item to the customer on-time is a little tricky since it can change for the same item depending on:

  1. If the customer is a Prime customer and lives outside the States set up for Prime
  2. If the customer is a Prime customer and lives within one of the States set up for Prime
  3. If the customer is not a Prime customer
  4. If the customer is a Prime customer not within State range or a customer that is not a Prime customer that wants to pay an extra .99 to speed up delivery time.

Initial December 2018 viewpoint of the Handmade SFP program:


I was invited to the Handmade SFP 3-4 day beta prime program and I did not need to do the trial period so my Handmade SFP items are already prime badged. I do not feel that the regular SFP 2 day program would be beneficial to most Handmade sellers. I feel that this Handmade SFP 3-4 day would benefit and be a good opportunity for handmade sellers who need a little lead time to create the item before shipping and additionally would offer additional shipping time to use less expensive shipping.

I have only made 3 sales on Handmade SFP so far which is less than I was expecting. Some of this may be due to I only have selected a limited number of SFP items, my items are generally more expensive, none of my SFP listings had any previous ranking and I have similar items with the same photography image under FBA Prime already that I may be competing against. The ranking will build up as sales increase. The main advantage to this program is that customers often click on the Prime only listings selection box in which these SFP items are part of. This program also allows you to not have to pay FBA storage fees while the items still has the Prime badge. This program is a trade-off of having your items with the Prime badge but the need to get the items out faster and many times with more expensive faster shipping. This plays a big role if the seller will like this program for how they will have to treat Handmade SFP items in relationship to how many extra sales the seller has with the SFP items. The Handmade SFP program overrides the production time (creation days) which can limit the seller to SFP items that can be pre-made or created quickly to be shipped out soon after the customer order is made.

It is difficult to say if other sellers in this program like this program since I think the number of sellers in this beta program are limited at this time and I have not heard a lot of feedback specifically from SFP sellers selling Handmade items. For me, it is a program that I am trying to see if it will bring me more opportunities and sales in the future since it is hard to have a full opinion based on my current limited sales.

If one is invited to the Handmade SFP beta program, I feel that it a program that the handmade seller should consider if the program is right for them. I hope that Amazon takes this program out of beta and offers it to every handmade seller in the future. This will lead to many handmade sellers being able to try this program out.

Bob Estrin 

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Bob Estrin 

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