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 only set up a limited number of items with this program. Please verify information that is important to you as a seller before implementing your selling strategy. Check back every week 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.

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.

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.

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 should 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.

- This program is for Handmade items only and those Handmade items can have customization options.

- This program is different in which it can include Handmade items that have customization choices. 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 will show with Prime badge, 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 shipping days.

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

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."

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!

 

Handmade SFP item search results and item detail screens:

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.

 

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.

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.

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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 10/22/18 after 2:00 PM and the customer was not a Prime customer who 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.

Note: This should probably show a customer a standard delivery date range since the shipping does not fall under a 3 - 4 day delivery 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.



As of 10/27/18, this is what I show on the screen for a non-prime member. This does not display the standard 4 - 8 delivery date range. I would think it would.

 

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.


This section (not yet filled in) is reserved to display when I get a Handmade SFP order and display the Amazon internal Seller Central screens that display the actual delivery dates.

 

 

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'.


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 may be able 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 program 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.  Also Amazon handles customer service on these items as well as handles returns for the seller. Another advantage is that sellers may choose to place 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 badged.

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.

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.

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 but I am not sure if the customer needs to be within the 3 - 4 day selected shipping region.

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.

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. I believe these non Prime customers can pay .99 to get the items faster but I feel most will just use the normal free standard shipping. The .99 faster delivery option is probably only available if the customer's address is one of the 3 or 4 day States or regions.

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.
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   Monday Tuesday Thursday
Sunday   X Monday Tuesday Thursday
Monday X   Monday Tuesday Thursday
Monday   X Tuesday Wednesday Friday
Tuesday X   Tuesday Wednesday Friday
Tuesday   X Wednesday Thursday Monday
Wednesday X   Wednesday Thursday Monday
Wednesday   X 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 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 shipments.
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   Monday Tuesday Friday
Sunday   X Monday Tuesday Friday
Monday X   Monday Tuesday Friday
Monday   X Tuesday Wednesday Monday
Tuesday X   Tuesday Wednesday Monday
Tuesday   X Wednesday Thursday Tuesday
Wednesday X   Wednesday Thursday Tuesday
Wednesday   X 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.

 

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

Not much information showing since I have not sold any Handmade seller fulfilled yet. 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:

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. 

A week or two before Christmas, I will probably ship out every purchase using Priority 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.
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.

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.

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.

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 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 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 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.

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.

 

Bob Estrin 

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Bob Estrin 

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