Person preparing a package for shipping.

Amazon Changes Default Handling Times for Brands Enrolled in Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM)

Ryan Faist

Ryan Faist, Channel Key

October 27, 2023

This blog was updated on March 7, 2024.

Amazon has made important changes to the automated handling time feature for seller-fulfilled orders. These updates are designed to help protect brands from order surges during the holiday shopping season. Amazon’s goal is to show more accurate delivery promises to shoppers, which can help boost brand sales.

What is Automatic Handling Time?

Automated handling time is a feature that sets a handling time for every SKU based on a brand’s past performance. The feature is designed to make the delivery date on a brand’s offers more attractive to customers. In September 2023, Amazon introduced the following improvements for automated handling time:

  • Same-Day Handling Time: Automated handling time will now apply a same-day handling time to SKUs that you ship on the day that you receive an order, which will show more accurate delivery promises.
  • Override for Order-Handling Capacity: Automated handling time will set your order-handling capacity based on your past performance, but you now have the option to manually override it if your operations improve.
  • Option to Revert to Previous Handling time: If you decide to switch off automated handling time, it will revert your SKU-specific handling time to what it was before you enabled this feature. Now, you can try the feature without losing your pre-configured values.

Amazon Shortens Default Handling Time Option

Amazon has also removed the 2-day Default Handling Time option for brands enrolled in FBM. The company stated that 85% of the time, sellers fulfill orders within 1 day of receiving an order. This implies that the update will only affect some brands. However, brands that have 2-day as their default will be automatically switched to 1-day. To protect the account metrics for brands that had set 2-day Default Handling Time, Amazon will update their SKU-Specific Handling Time on their behalf in the following ways:

  • For SKUs where you have historically taken more than 1-day to handle orders, and do not have a SKU level handling time set, Amazon will automatically set a 2-day SKU-Specific Handling Time, which will override your Default Handling Time.
  • For SKUs where you have historically taken 1-day or less to handle orders, and do not have a SKU level handling time set, Amazon will not assign a SKU-Specific Handling Time. Therefore, your updated Default Handling Time of 1-day will apply.
  • For SKUs that previously had a SKU-Specific Handling Time, there will be no changes applied.

Note: Brands can set an Order Handling Capacity to protect their business from surges of orders. They can also set a SKU-specific Handling Time. This is helpful when brands are confident that most of their SKUs can ship within 1 day but have some products that may take longer. For these SKUs, brands can set a longer handling time that will override the Default Handling Time specifically for that SKU.

What is Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM)?

FBM is a program offered by Amazon that allows sellers to fulfill orders from their own inventory stored in their own warehouses or fulfillment centers. When a seller opts for Fulfilled by Merchant, they are responsible for storing, packing, and shipping the products themselves when orders are placed. This means that the seller maintains control over the entire fulfillment process, from inventory management to shipping logistics. It provides sellers with flexibility and control over their operations but also requires them to handle the logistics and customer service aspects of fulfilling orders.

Here’s how Amazon FBM typically works:

  • Listing Products: Sellers list their products on Amazon’s marketplace, specifying that they will fulfill orders themselves (FBM). They set the prices, descriptions, and other relevant details for their listings.
  • Storing Inventory: Sellers store their inventory in their own warehouses, fulfillment centers, or other storage facilities. They are responsible for managing their inventory levels and ensuring that they have sufficient stock to fulfill orders.
  • Order Placement: When a customer places an order for a product listed by an FBM seller, Amazon processes the order as usual. The seller receives notification of the order through Amazon’s seller dashboard or other communication channels.
  • Order Fulfillment: The seller is responsible for picking the ordered items from their inventory, packing them securely, and preparing them for shipment. They then generate shipping labels and arrange for the package to be picked up by a carrier (such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS).
  • Shipping and Delivery: The carrier transports the package to the customer’s address, typically following the shipping method selected by the customer at checkout. The seller may choose to offer various shipping options, such as standard shipping, expedited shipping, or international shipping.
  • Customer Service: FBM sellers are responsible for providing customer service, including handling inquiries, resolving issues, and managing returns or refunds. Amazon may still facilitate communication between the seller and the customer through its platform.

Overall, Amazon FBM gives sellers more control over their inventory and fulfillment processes but also requires them to manage logistics, inventory levels, and customer service independently. It can be a suitable option for sellers who want flexibility and control over their operations or who have specific requirements for product storage and handling.

Channel Key Takeaway

According to Amazon, brands often set longer Handling Times than they need to prepare, pack, and hand-over packages to carriers. This causes shoppers browsing products to see longer-than-necessary delivery dates. Successfully managing your Amazon inventory and orders requires setting more accurate Handling Times. In doing so, shoppers typically see more attractive delivery dates, which leads to more sales. Channel Key recommends periodically reviewing your Handling Time settings for your entire FBM catalog – especially the SKUs you intend to promote during high-volume events like Prime Day and the holiday shopping season,

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